With the face of local watering holes changing rapidly, here’s a chance to have a look at all the pubs that used to operate in the Northern Illawarra!
It’s called ‘timegents.com‘ because that’s what the barmaids used to shout around 6pm, just before the bars would close for the night.
Taking it one step further, Mick spent two years researching then writing a book that specifically details the pubs of the Northern Illawarra.
‘The Local. A history of hotels and the liquor industry in the far Northern Illawarra of NSW’ is a goldmine. Published years ago, Mick recently found a box of unsold books, giving us the opportunity to learn about our local history.
“During the coal mining boom, the majority of local pubs were owned by the brewery, Tooth and Co,” says Mick. “Fortunately, when they sold the pubs in the 1970’s, they lodged all their records with the Australian National University library so I went and searched through what was a treasure trove of information. Because they had such a substantial real estate portfolio, they also took photos, which I have been able to include in my book!
“Each pub had a box of its own filled with financial records and personal notes. It could have been lost forever, but there it was, in dusty old boxes!”
“Pubs have played a huge role in the local community,” says Mick. “They were a meeting place for the coalminers. In fact the Coalminers Union was formed at the Black Diamond Hotel in Bulli.
“Our hospitals and cemeteries all originated from meetings in hotel pubs. Plus they’re full of colourful characters and great stories.”
Mick’s book includes hotels right through to Waterfall.
“There was the ‘Heathcote Hotel’ at Waterfall Station. Then the Grenadier at Otford and two pubs in Helensburgh, the Centennial, and the Paragon, which was opposite the old Worker’s Club.
“The Paragon closed when they transferred the license to the Grand Hotel in Wollongong to take advantage of the steel boom in the 1940s. That was a beautiful old hotel with lacework right across the front,” he says.
“There was the Imperial Hotel at Clifton of course, and another pub across the road. It was a single-storey building called ‘The Clifton Inn’.
“I have stories of coalminers rioting at the Scarborough Hotel, and I’ve also found out about all the Billiards Saloons and wine bars too.
“The Austinmer Hotel operated where the vet is now, opposite the Railway Station in Moore Street. That used to be a two-storey timber pub. But Austinmer had a strong anti-liquor movement in the 1890s so after that closed, there was nothing until the 1950s when Headlands became a pub. It had been a guesthouse since the 1920s.”
Mick says that derelict old building near Point Street on the highway at Bulli was also once a pub. “It was the Denmark Hotel,” he says. “My great grandfather actually built that hotel back in the 1870s. He came from Denmark, hence the name. In those days, there were four pubs between the Point Street and Bulli Public School”
“My family has been drinking at the Heritage Hotel in Bulli for five generations,” says Mick. “It’s always been known as the ‘Family Hotel’, and has been a meeting place in my family for five generations. There’s something great about knowing that when I sit there I can safely say my great grandfather had a beer in the same spot!”
Facing closure when it was sold by Tooth and Co in the 1970s, the pub was thrown a lifeline when it was bought by local real estate agent Eric Blane in the 80s. Mick says before then there was talk of bulldozing it!