Almanac Life: Bottle and Bird



I was in Kensington, but I was thinking about Whyalla.


This rarely happens. I dropped Claire at an interpreting job just up from the Britannia Roundabout and had time on my hands, which can be dangerous at 4pm on a Friday, especially with the distinct lack of adult supervision.


Whyalla is home to one of the world’s great bespoke businesses, and I speak, of course, about the Bottle and Bird. It’s a drive-through liquor outlet located at the Westlands Hotel (by law it must be called the Wastelands) and this is tremendous for those in need, but the real dynamite here is that it comes with a take-away food option too. I’ve never been through it but imagine the ordering goes like this-


Howdy mate. Yeah, well, I’ll have a six pack of Southwark cans. Nah, been a big week, you better make than Bundy and coke. And I’ll have a half chook ‘n’ minimum chips. No, not half a minimum chips, I’m pretty hungry, a full minimum chips. Quinoa salad? Don’t think so.


The Bottle and Bird speaks of Australian ingenuity, and not getting out of your car unless it’s on fire, or sinking. It’s surely one of our state’s premier tourist attractions. Does it have its own t-shirt range? Its own stubby holders? Its own souvenir tea-towels?


So on Friday I wandered down to the Britannia Hotel on the Britannia Roundabout to catch the last of the Port Lincoln races. Earlier my sister Jill and brother-in-law Bazz had a horse running (Betta Eddie) which came a place, but a nag named Bottle and Bird was in the last. I jumped on. A mare, she’s based in Ceduna and is only five, but has already raced nearly forty times. They work them hard on the West Coast.


Having made my investment I grabbed a chair. The front bar was sparsely populated, but richly scented. I had no goatee. There were a few minutes until they jumped with hopefully Bottle and Bird screaming to a rare win. I grabbed a newspaper from a bench. Flicking through I realised it was over a week old.


The gate sprung open and they were away at Port Lincoln’s Ravendale racecourse! Bottle and Bird settled well, just behind the leaders. Her jockey put her to sleep down the back and she kept her position. Unsure what to call the horse in my mind I alternated between, “Go Bottle!” and “Come, on, Bird!”


In the Britannia front bar something malodorous slapped my nostrils. I glanced around. No-one seemed to care about me or Bottle and Bird and our new, likely temporary, relationship. My eyes shot back to the wide screen. She arched her back and lengthened her stride and I’d like to say it was just like Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in front of about 30,000 punters, but it wasn’t.


The favourite pulled away and won by a bit over a length.


But Bottle and Bird had run second. I’d doubled my cash.


If I was knocking off work in Whyalla I’d steer my ute to the Bottle and Bird and with my winnings, shout myself a schnitzel pack and a long neck of Coopers Sparkling Ale.








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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. John Butler says

    Needs to be in the Australian Museum of Ingenuity, alongside the stump-jump plough and the Hills Hoist.

    I had a goatee once. In a decade called the 1980’s.

  2. Williamstown has a very popular take-away food outlet named “Hot Wings”. It specializes in roast chooks and chips, and sits on the corner at Williamstown’s busiest intersection. I would imagine that the addition of a drive-through liquor outlet would cause nothing but traffic chaos.

  3. Thanks JB. Forget silo art. I’d sign up for a tour of the nation’s unique drive-throughs.

    Smokie- I’m informed that the line-up at the B&B can stretch for over 100 metres which, of course, is both a point of celebration and also despair! While we’re at it, am I the only one who finds chook outlets with “Rooster” in the name disturbing? There’s a place at Semaphore called “Black Rooster” that I’m sure is excellent, but I’ll never find out for it connotes particularly grim medieval disease for me.

  4. Truly an establishment for the ages, Mickey. What’ll they think of next?

  5. Like many acts of genius it’s breathtakingly simple, Jarrod.

    A quick look on their website shows potato cakes (not fritters or scallops) are $2.

  6. Mickey – you have touched on a topic I’ve been contemplating for some time. My favourite bar. It was a simple establishment in San Sebastian. One of the attractions was a deep fryer behind the bar and the barman did a neat trick in tossing the fried squid with one hand while pouring a cold one with the other. The Basques take sophisticated food & alcohol multi-tasking far more seriously than Whyalla. More to come.

  7. PB- Afternoon naps, late lunch and later dinners, not allowing Anglo constructs around work and service to interfere with family and lifestyle, deep passion for music and sport: these people have it sorted (save ongoing difficulties around self-determination).

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