Changing countries has meant learning a whole new culture for lodging. I don’t know why I’d assumed that New Zealand and Australia would be the same. Maybe it was the fact that our camping loyalty card in NZ is valid at certain campsites in Australia. Or maybe it was because countries have motels. Or maybe it was because citizens from both countries eat meat pies. Whatever the reason, I was thinking that we would understand the camping, motels, and hotels in OZ as well as we did when we left NZ.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
From backpacker hostels and campgrounds to motels and hotels, the amenities and types of lodging in both countries is slightly different. While tents and cabins at holiday parks (camp grounds) worked well for us in NZ, the weather has been too cold for tenting in Australia and the camp ground cabins, to date, have been more expensive than motels. And, where the backpacker hostels were prevalent in NZ, they are fewer and farther between (or we just haven’t found them) here in OZ.
So, it was time to try a new type of lodging – the hotel rooms at the pubs, (taverns) located in many small towns and at occasional rural crossroads.
For our first pub/hotel experience, we found the Exchange Hotel in Goulburn. It is barebones accommodation – bed, towel, a bar of soap, bathroom down the hall, and a breakfast room featuring toast, cereal and coffee. Overlooking the peeling paint, dated furniture, and wall heater that gave an orange glow but lacked any heat, we were delighted to find cold beer, a pleasant atmosphere and friendly, regular, that-bar-stool-has-my name-on-it patrons downstairs in the pub.
Even better, on the night we stayed, there was live music. (It felt like we got concert tickets included in our room price). Jasmin Jones, the female singer/songwriter/acoustic guitar player who entertained us with her lovely voice and good guitar skills was on a promo tour of her new album and this pub just happened to be on the road to Melbourne. (for a free download go to her website www.jasminjones.com) It was our lucky night.
Feeling pretty good about our first pub hotel, we tried the Bungadore Royal Hotel in Bungadore the following night.
The Bungadore Royal Hotel is located in a very old building (feels like late 1800s) and the main pub area is heated with a wood burning stove stuffed into an old fireplace. The remainder of the building including our upstairs hotel room was au natural. Actually, most of the windows were open when we arrived probably to mask the 100 year old musky smell.
The downstairs parlor area has a computerized machine that appears to be an electronic bookie where people can place bets on the horse races, harness races, and greyhound dog races that are playing on giant TV screens throughout the pub. Another side room has about 10 busy slot machines.
The atmosphere at this pub was extremely lively bordering on raucous. It was packed with rowdy ex-rugby players celebrating a ten-year reunion. Between guzzling “scooners” (pints of beer), slamming down shots, and searching for designated drivers their “party” was plenty of entertainment before we headed to bed.
While I was typing this blog in our old, tiny, cold room I could feel the bass from the speakers reverberating through the floor and into the wall behind our headboard. The electric floor heater opposite our bed was making more noise than heat. And, the electric blanket barely warmed my calves and toes..
But, the good thing about a scooner of beer after a hard day of cycling is that sleep comes easily and before I knew it, morning light was peeking under the shade.
Pub accommodation, although not like home, definitely provides a roof over our heads and some evening entertainment in some of these remote areas of Australia.