Mystery Pub: Viva Las Vegas – The Peninsula, Taperoo


Claire and I are back in the nation of Le Fevre at the accurately labelled Peninsula Hotel. Motoring there proved simple as we accessed the Northern and Port River Expressways with the metaphorical Friday breeze in our hair.

Taking in the hotel visage, I’m smitten, as the 2019 renovations have aspired to a Vintage Vegas aesthetic. This evokes iconic buildings such as Circus Circus, the Tropicana, and the Flamingo.

It’s a genuine point of difference as both outside and in are devoid entirely of Port football iconography. It’s brazenly decontextualized and if you wish to drink up homegrown sporting nostalgia, there’s a dozen nearby pubs in which you can do this until you’re as silly as a wheel.

This is an architectural delight and midcentury Americana tribute. With a rhetorical front and conventional behind, the Peninsula adopts the Stardust Showroom model of being a ‘decorated shed.’ It presents as a portal to an immersive world.



Most striking are the bright greens, pinks, reds, and blues on the external and internal windows. Lighting and colour are often poorly done by interior designers, so this sets an enticing tone and suggests risk and adventure and ageless excitement.

All in downtown Taperoo.



Vegas motels are styled as pleasure zones like the Alhambra, Disneyland, and Xanadu while the famous gambling strip is also neon in the Atomic Age and uses Miami Moroccan visuals. I mention to Claire that according to my reading, Vegas is situated in an ‘agoraphobic auto-scaled desert.’

But that’s enough psychosexual geography.


5pm can be a curious, twilight time to descend upon a pub. The lunch and function crowd have (mostly) long left and omitting Queensland pensioners, it’s too early for those seeking dinner. Office types are still pretending to write outcomes-driven emails. But we’ve arrived and the emptiness aids critical appraisal and having the bar to ourselves is also helpful for conversation.



Like racehorses and heavy metal bands, modern beverages are prone to enchanting names that overpromise and underdeliver.

Claire requisitions a Shy Pig Sauvignon Blanc while I go for a local beer in the Big Shed Peninsula Proud. It’s a hazy pale ale, brewed in the neighbouring province of Royal Park. Both drinks deliver and my pint is hoppy and aromatic and pokes me in a late afternoon kinda way.

The movie set-like Peninsula isn’t an inexpressive cavern or processing plant but rather a place promising veiled and tempting nooks. Taking up residency we examine our week and encouraged by the setting, talk shifts naturally to the Rat Pack and the Chapel of Love and Elvis.

We consider visiting Vegas. Claire says, ‘I’d love to go. You’ve been there, right?’

Queue my Vegas blackjack story. I reply. ‘Yes, you know!’

Claire summarises neatly if a little eagerly. ‘That’s when you went to a casino at midnight and got to bed at 8am? When you were still winning at dawn and then gave all your money back?’


‘Correct,’ I affirm before offering a meek defence. ‘It was such good fun.’ I interrupt with an idea. ‘A trip there would have to include the Grand Canyon. It’s easy the best thing I’ve seen on the planet.’

Claire doesn’t say, ‘Make sure in Vegas we get a steak and Caesar salad.’



Returning barwards for our second and final refreshments, I note that the busiest section of the pub is the gaming room complete with carnivorous pokies.

But a picturesque, serene light streams in across our table and unlike the optical and aural assault of Vegas, it’s quiet and lounge standards from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin drift through the languid interior like smoke.

And now we’re a very long way from Port Adelaide. Maybe that’s the seductive trick of the Peninsula: the escapism, the effortless time travel, the mirage.


You can read more from Mickey Randall Here


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About Mickey Randall

No, instead I get out my Volleys, each with the inescapable hole, just by the little toe. What if someone bought a pair of Volleys and they didn’t develop these holes? The absence of holes would itself make a psychological hole.


  1. Mickey, having visited Las Vegas only a couple of months ago, I can probably surmise that it is not what it was when you were there previously. It is so expensive and decidedly less fun – very different from my previous visit as a backpacker in 1990.
    Happily, the Canyon is still as awesome.

  2. Everything except the beer sounds awful. Thanks for the warning. Dad always said nothing good happens north of the bend in Port Road.

  3. Thanks Smokie. I reckon the Canyon will be the main course and Vegas, the dessert (desert).

    PB- if the authorities read your comment, they’ll likely deny your visa.


  4. Daryl Schramm says

    Visited Vegas (and the Canyon) in ’12. Never put a coin in a slot.
    Will happily visit the Taperoo pub one day though on this review.
    Always happy to test my comfort zone.

  5. I’d be keen to hear your thoughts Daryl, especially if you dine there. As well as your reactions to the overall aesthetic. Thanks.

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