Canberra, ACT – August 1999

Pub and Club Review

This month in Canberra I am reviewing bars/pubs and clubs.

I will start with my favorites. I am not a disco dancer so you will not find Aqua, Spice Girls, Chumbawumba, etc played at any of these. If you are interested in these, skip this bit and read a bit further down the page. All the bars/pubs/clubs mentioned here are in the centre of the city or close to it.

My number one pub at the moment is the Wig and Pen. I am having cravings for their homemade Creamy Ale even while I write. They make most of their tap beers now – with a wide range – from stout to lager.

The thing about most of them is that they taste so good. Mainly I think this is ‘cos they are relatively fresh and I assume the ingredients are fresh. I suppose it doesn’t take much intelligence to work this out since Guinness over here is imported and I am sure 6 months on a boat will not have the same effect on beer as it would have on cars. Wig and Pen sells pints too, so the thirsty person can have a decent drink before having to buy another. Pint of Creamy Ale: $5.50.

Another pub that sells pints is the Phoenix. I actually work here and thus drink here often too. It is a great place to work, and a great place to drink. We sell Guinness, Beamish and Boddingtons, along with Australian lager. There is a group of people that come on Sunday nights and play jigs. This is free to join so if you brought your guitar or violin they would be quite happy for you to join in.

If you come on a Friday you can try and get a free pint out of me, I doubt you would manage it but you can try. I think the line to take is to convince me you need the pint as much as I need a holiday right now. Pint of Guinness $5.10

My third watering hole is the Gypsy Bar. Sometimes they have good bands – sometimes they have dodgey ones – but mainly they are a pub with pool tables that still has people in it from whenever I finish work until 4am. Vodka $3.50-3.90.

Then, if I still have energy or I have acquired some extra energy during the night, it is usually the cold dash to Heaven – which is about the least atrocious dance club in Canberra. It doesn’t have much competition and it shows sometimes. But they do occasionally have good international DJ’s. Note: club price drinks.

If you just want a game of pool and don’t mind if the pub is a bit dingy, then the Civic Pub is for you. It is basically a pool parlor with a bar tacked on. This is in Braddon, not quite in the city but only 5 minutes walk from Civic Bus Interchange.

A good pub a bit further is the All Bar Nun which is located in O’Connor shops. If you have a map, it’s about 25mins walk. If you don’t – take a taxi, this should be around $6. If you are a girl and have a skirt, watch the floor as some bits have glass and you can see through to the cellar from around the bar.

Now concerning pubs and clubs that play Aqua. I don’t feel like talking about them anymore so you will just have to ask someone else.


One word of warning. Canberra does have an underground. Sometimes this emerges as footy yobbo-heads that all want to pick fights and sometimes as packs of roaming smackies. Whatever it may be, some nights are not as safe as you would expect from this sleepy government town, so just be aware.

If me and my friends and their friends all got together we could write a book of dodgey stories that have occurred to ourselves or to close friends in Canberra (note: these would not be urban legends passed down by 7 hands, but first hand accounts). These range from being almost run over by a reversing car and promptly having your hair gripped and your head bashed against a stranger’s car by the driver for being in the way, to watching a crazy naked man wielding a 60cm carving knife run through a shopping district chased by 10 policemen who were completely ineffective in their law and order roles.

So, young unsuspecting backpackers and all the old ones too, always take appearances for granted except when they involve anything to do with any government organization.


General Info Section

Here are some links to find the more conventional side of Canberra….

Canberra Tourism

Lonely Planet

Guide to the ACT

A-Z of Canberra Sites



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