Australasia/ Pacific

Seven of the oldest Australian pubs still pulling beers today

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With British pubs being hubs of social gatherings back home, it was inevitable that the hotel trade in colonial Australia would boom and publicans would flourish. Some of the oldest Australian pubs continue to fill glasses with amber fluids today.

A social tipple or three was central to life back home. That means that it wasn’t long before the rum smuggling trade in colonial Australia was bustling. As a result, formalities needed to be put in place to gain crowd control. The earliest Australian hotel licensing records date from 1798, only a decade after the First Fleet’s arrival at Botany Bay.

In historic Australian pub circles, there is debate over which pub can claim to be the oldest. From my experience, any historic Australian pub with more than a century and a half of yarns to share is well worth a visit. Furthermore, the less modernised the interior of the pub, the more authentic the old Australian pub experience feels.

So as not to fire up a passionate historic publican or two, we kept the criteria for this article simple. Most of all, we wanted to bring you a decent sample of what we know to be a long list of historic Australian pubs that you can still plan to visit and enjoy a drink in today.

What the oldest Australian pubs in the list below share is that they were all originally established as pubs with liquor licenses. Notably, each of these pubs still hold current liquor licenses today. While they may have moved across the road, and been rebuilt since they were originally established, what they have in common is that they started out as a pub, they’re still a pub and they’re all old in terms of Australian colonial history.

Over 220 years of pulling beers:  Woolpack Hotel, Parramatta, New South Wales

Woolpack Hotel in Parramatta NSW is one of the oldest Australian pubs still pulling beers.
Image: from

ESTABLISHED:  c. 1798, originally as the Freemasons Arms Inn


ADDRESS: 19 George Street, Parramatta, NSW.

A trip to Parramatta without dropping in at the Woolpack for refreshment is out of the question. Courtesy, attention, and good brands are always available at the Woolpack. – The Catholic Press, Thu 29 Feb 1912 |

The historic Woolpack Hotel in Parramatta was originally established in 1798 as the Freemasons Arms Inn and gained its current namesake back in 1821. The Woolpack Hotel claims to be one of the first ten hotels in Australia to be granted a liquor licence. While the Woolpack Hotel was rebuilt across the road from the original hotel in the 1890s it holds the longest hotel license in Australia (1796).

Over 210 years of pulling beers:  Hope and Anchor Tavern, Hobart, Tasmania

Hope and Anchor Tavern is one of Australia's oldest pubs still pulling beers.

ESTABLISHED: c. 1807 as the Whale Fishery Hotel, rebuilt in 1817.


CURRENT ADDRESS: 65 Macquarie Street, Hobart (formerly Hotel Alexandra)

This historic waterfront pub is a Hobart landmark. The tavern makes claim to being the oldest Australian pub, as it has been mostly continuously trading while other candidates for the title had significant breaks in their trading history. It has been known by a few names over the years including the Whale Fishery; the Hope; the Anchor and Hope; and The Alexandra. Naturally its fabulous location and history makes it a sought out tourist destination. The hotel is Heritage Listed by the Tasmanian Government.

TO FIND OUT MORE: Visit the University of Tasmania > Library > Companion to Tasmanian History.

Over 200 years of pulling beers: Horse and Jockey Hotel in Homebush Sydney

The Horse and Jockey Hotel is one of the oldest Australian pubs still pulling beers.



CURRENT ADDRESS: Corner of Parramatta Road and Knight Street, Homebush, NSW.

Today’s Horse and Jockey Hotel was originally established as The Half Way House Hotel. This is because it was located half way between Sydney and Parramatta.  The hotel has been graced with a number of names before settling into the Horse and Jockey Club Hotel in the 1840s. The building itself has had a chequered history having been demolished and rebuilt a few times. The original hotel, ‘The Half Way House Hotel’ stood 50 metres east of the current hotel.


Visit the Horse and Jockey Hotel website > history; and,

Strathfield Herigate > Horse and Jockey Hotel

Over 200 years of pulling beers: Macquarie Arms Hotel, Windsor, New South Wales

The Macquarie Arms Hotel is one of the oldest Australian pubs still pulling beers.



CURRENT ADDRESS: Thompson Square, Windsor, NSW.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie discovered and settled the Hawkesbury region. Home to the Macquarie Arms Hotel in Windsor the region is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Australia. The beautiful old two storey colonial hotel was built by Richard Fitzgerald under the direction of Governor Macquarie. A portrait of Governor Macquarie graces the Dining Room of the Macquarie Arms Hotel today. According to the pub’s website a past resident, seven year old Mary is said to haunt the hotel.


Visit the Macquarie Arms Hotel website; and,

NSW Environment and Heritage > Statement of Significance

Over 200 years of pulling bears: Bush Inn, New Norfolk, Tasmania

One of Australia's oldest pubs Tasmania's The Bush Inn
The Bush Inn New Norfolk Tasmania 1928 | John Henry Harvey 1855-1938, photographer/



CURRENT ADDRESS: 49-51 Montagu Street, New Norfolk, TAS.

The English pub inspired Bush Inn in New Norfolk Tasmania may indeed have claim to being our nation’s oldest pub. It has been continuously licensed on the same site (since 1825) and in the same building. The Bush Inn has a spectacular history that includes underground tunnels and asylums. It is also  a destination for passionate paranormal chasers!


Read this fascinating article about Bush Inn’s ghost – > Travel > The terrifying story behind this haunted hotel

Almost 200 years of pulling beers: Brunswick Hotel Hobart

Brunswick Hotel in Hobart is one of the oldest Australian pubs still pulling beers.



CURRENT ADDRESS: 67 Liverpool Street, Hobart, TAS.

The Brunswick Hotel started out with a shady past – built by convicts and originally operating as an illegal grog shop. Licensed since 1831 and operating as a licensed pub ever since, Brunswick Hotel Hobart claims the second oldest continually licensed pub in Australia position.


Visit the pub’s website Brunswick Hotel Hobart > History

Almost 200 years of pulling beers: Fortune of War, The Rocks, NSW

The Rocks' Fortune of War is one of the oldest Australian pubs still pulling ales.



CURRENT ADDRESS: 137 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW.

The Rocks in Sydney boasts more than 100 heritage sites and buildings. The Fortune of War was originally built in 1828 by former stocking thief and convict Samuel Terry. The pub has a long history of being a gathering place after each Anzac Day march.


Visit the pub’s website Fortune of War > History


A brief history of the licensing laws in NSW

NSW Government Records > Colonial Secretarys Papers

(Images: Generic bar image by Thomas-Martinsen/ &

The Bush Hotel New Norfolk Tas 1928 | John Henry Harvey 1855-1938, photographer/

Seven of the oldest Australian pubs still pulling beers today

World’s Best Roofbars


  1. Dick Owen

    I thought the Survey Inn at Berrima was the oldest continued licensed pub or Inn in Australia.

  2. Julie Pearce

    Hello Dick. Thank you for your interest. Ah, there is much contention around which hotels claim to be the oldest continuing licensed pub in Australia. That’s why we’ve intentionally said ‘seven of the oldest’ not ‘the oldest seven’. Looking at the Survey Inn’s website, it was established in c.1834 – a little later than some of the pubs mentioned in the article. As we mentioned in this write up, any historic Australian pub over 150 years old and operating today is a very worthwhile visit. Thank you for bringing the Survey Inn at Berrima to our readers’ attention. It looks like a fabulous spot!

  3. SO right, Julie! You are indeed brave to tackle this much debated subject. As you rightly state, there is so much contention around which hotels claim to be the oldest in Australia (as in England). I enjoyed the read, thank you (and thanks for the link to my web site: in regard to the NSW licensing laws. Just for the record though, personally I would consider Tasmania’s Bush Inn as Australia’s oldest pub. The pub is the oldest continually licensed pub, trading from the same premises (1825). Again, thanks for the great read.

  4. Julie Pearce

    Thank you Mick. Your website is a fabulous Australian treasure – thank you for preserving some wonderfully colourful stories and snippets of life in our pubs!

  5. Mr. Edwards

    Sadly, the interior of the Horse and Jockey is dismal, like having a drink in a betting shop. Very depressing.

  6. Wayne Watkins

    Would have thought The Hero of Waterloo in the Rocks should have made it . Great watering hole with possibly Australia’s oldest performer Valda on the weekends . It still has the cells downstairs where the next shanghaid crew to England were held overnight after having Micky Finns dropped in their drinks the previous evening .

  7. Lynton Bradford

    I would suggest The Settlers Arms St Albans up from Wismans Ferry should be up amonst the most historic as it is almost original including the rooms. Just to be there takes you back in time. It has not been rebuilt unlike many quoted here. No fancy menus, simple food, creaking floor boards. You can feel the ghosts of the pasts.
    Believed to have been licensed about 1830s.

  8. Julie Pearce

    Hello Lynton. Thank you for your interest. There are so many incredible historic pubs around Australia. I think we’ll publish another article soon where the criteria is a little more open, and feature great pubs like The Settlers Arms St Albans. Thank you.

  9. Julie Pearce

    Hello Lynton. Great, thank you. We will revisit an article on historical pubs across Australia as we’ve received many passionate responses based on experiences. Thank you.

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  13. Tony Polistina

    We were at the Macquarie Arms pub at Windsor yesterday, and the had a sign at the front saying that it was the oldest Pub in Australia.
    Going on the above, it clearly isn’t, it is the 4th oldest.
    Perhaps they should be advertising the truth, as it is still something to be proud of.
    We had lunch there, and I must say that it was probably the Best Beef Burger I’ve ever had.

  14. Even while the Hope & Anchor was closed it still held its license. It is the oldest LICENSED pub in Tassie…..

  15. We had dinner at the hope and anchor last night while staying in Hobart, absolutely delicious, highly recommend

  16. Arthur Samyia

    We are at the Hope in Hobart now great place but being from Parramatta we must agree the Woolpack is older – all great pubs ?

  17. Pingback: 10 of Australia’s oldest pubs turning on the charm of bygone days – Go55s

  18. Just a few notes on previous comments:
    Bobbie, On January 19th 2015, an application was made for a NEW license for the Hope and Anchor Tavern in Macquarie St, Hobart, premises then unlicensed. (since 2008). This was granted one month later on February 19th. The hotel’s claims that it was licensed whilst closed are false.
    Tony Polistina: Yes, I agree, but they are not alone in false claims, (see my previous comment re the H&A). The Pub in the Paddock in Tassie claims to have been founded in 1880. It wasn’t. Up in Qld the Nindigully also makes bogus claims about continuity of license, being in the original building etc and Lee’s in Ingham makes false claims about connection to Dan Sheahan’s poem, the pub without beer.
    Mr. Edwards: spot on!
    Julie Pearce and Dick Owen: just a correction but it’s correct name is the Surveyor General Inn and it claims that it’s the oldest continually licensed inn in Austraila. It isn’t. They may want you to believe that there is a difference between a pub and an inn, but there is no difference in the type of licence whatsoever.
    Personally I can find no reason to deny the claims of the Woolpack in Parramatta. Today it’s a pretty sad place with only a slight acknowledgement to its amazing history. Francois Peron stayed and dined there when researching how the French could invade the colony and so too did Joseph Holt the Irish rebel leader. It’s first publican, James Larra was charged with the murder of his second wife through over-vigorous sex (he was found not guilty). For a fuller version:

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