Almanac (Pub) History: Queen’s Head Hotel Geelong – Part 2


Roger Lowrey out  front of the old Queen’s Head Hotel in Geelong.


Kevin Densley’s fine contribution about the erstwhile Queen’s Head Hotel in Geelong prompted many memories of mine well beyond a comment section under his original piece.


Let’s start with the simple stuff.


The former QH was one of those marvellous old Geelong pubs. The unusual curved brick old main entrance immediately to my right hand side in the above photo is a nod to its 60s retro design.


In local parlance undecipherable to outsiders, it was opposite Griffiths bookstore in Ryrie Street where we all dragged our feet collecting school texts in the late January heat.


Invariably, your own highly arranged collection day would be the hottest day of the week with pools and beaches beckoning and with the Adelaide Test just getting interesting.


The old QH had many claims to fame. I’ll leave the more unfortunate ones involving its subsequent nightclub reincarnation and post midnight ambulances to the Geelong Hospital emergency department for another time. But for now, there are simpler avenues of innocent pleasure.


For example, back in the 1970s it was once a quarter of the answer to the local knowledge question seeking the names of the four of Geelong’s 43 hotels not on street corners. This sometimes proved quite a challenge to some. You know – you cock it up and “what sort of Geelong local are you?”


Not unlike what seems to be Kevin’s Geelong College experience of all this, my own Catholic version of same was eerily similar. My Chanel College colleagues and I would sometimes gather in underage-friendly hotels at thirsty time between 4’ish and 6’ish on weekdays with no footy or cricket training.


For starters, our school uniform was much simpler than theirs. White shirt, red tie, red jumper (which dissolved the nanosecond we got on a McHarry’s bus and replaced it with a casual outfit from the discreetly concealed and well camouflaged school bag) and grey pants. Too easy.


College was dark blazers, funny ties, a flying horse motto, weird looking caps and far too much interest in our gals at the neighbouring Sacred Heart Convent on the opposite side of Aphrasia Street. And we always thought Presbyterians disapproved of sex standing up because it looked too much like ballroom dancing. Not so apparently.


Like Kevin’s though, my underage drinking rap sheet was extensive and all exclusively Geelong based: first drink 16th birthday Sir Charles Hotham; 16 to 17, the Gold Diggers; 17th birthday Queens Head; 18th birthday Cremorne.


Yeah I know, things were a bit different back then.


And no, I wasn’t the Year 12 Maoist. That was my good mate Macca who later became a very successful lawyer. I was a kinda struggling second rate wanna be anything – loving Gough and opposed to conscription and Vietnam. Forty years later I get my Labor Party life membership yet I’m sometimes far from convinced it’s where I belong any more.


But back to the story. As we emerged further into young adulthood (adult themes alert folks), with good reason the QH became fondly known as the ‘queen of the head’. It was regularly referred to in the Geelong Advertiser as a ‘lively after dark venue’ – both in the advertising material and the local law court reports on Wednesdays.


On other matters, Kevin has the architecture spot on. It was a totally unreconstructed rabbit warren of a joint where even Alice would have found the white rabbit almost impossible to find. Mind you, Alice’s young female contemporaries at the QH just over a century later were in pursuit of quarry other than white rabbits. And, God bless them, it seems they almost always found them!


Finally, with apologies to Banjo Patterson, Kevin’s reference to ‘the dingiest room (where) just a bit of light entered through the doorways at each end’ reminds this reader of a ‘dingy little office where a stingy ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall.’ Yep, that was the back of Ryrie Street buildings back then. The 1666 architecture of the Great Fire of London buildings comes readily to mind.


Along with all Footy Almanac readers, may Kevin and I share a convivial frothy at Percy’s one day in the not too distant future ‘on the other side’ as we elaborate further on Geelong history.


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About Roger Lowrey

Roger Lowrey is a Geelong based writer who lists his special interests as reading, writing, horse racing, Roman history and AEC electoral boundaries. Some of his friends think he is a little eccentric.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Haven’t had a drink there but I’ve had a few curries!

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Wonderful stuff, Roger! Actually, I went to St Joey’s, so I can certainly relate to Aphrasia Street and your Sacred Heart College material, as well as the Gold Diggers Hotel in Skene Street; in fact, I walked from my home in Austin Street, Newtown (mentioned in my Argyle Ground Almanac piece) along Aphrasia Street to school – every day – from Form Two to Form Six. One of the memorable sounds of that era was the almost deafening, yet wonderful sound of cicadas along tree-lined Aphrasia Street during the warmer months.

    Yes, we’ll have that beer sometime – and, interestingly, Hugh, the Year 12 Maoist I knew at school, became a lawyer, too!

  3. Great memories Roger. Particularly liked the measure of Geelong credentialism.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Entertaining read of a different time Roger!
    Definitely needing to visit the building for a curry.

  5. John McLoughlin says

    I was never a Maoist. Never knew enough about politics to manage that. Although I liked that street theatre troupe at uni in 1971 who did a catchy dance chanting (as if to “At the Hop”) Ho!, Ho!, Ho Chi Minh!
    And “very successful” is wildly overstating my legal career. “Consistently employed” would be more accurate.

  6. Great stuff, Roger

  7. matt payne says

    A mate used to run a hot dog joint called Diggety Dogs across the road back in the eighties I think. When I would visit him I would get take away rum and cokes in short glasses(with ice) from the QH and get refills as needed.

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