Pub Review: A Story from the Story Bridge Hotel



                     Photo: Steve Baker


The waitress plonked down two Beef and Guinness pies, but my food envy was immediate and crushing.


Like a grinning fool I had ordered mine with chips and coleslaw, but ever the better judge, Claire went with mash and green beans.


Bugger I thought.


It was a strangely wintry Friday in Brisbane with the temperature pathetically marooned in the teens (some would suggest not unlike my psychology). Flying in from Mackay like characters in an old Paul Kelly song a tropical storm threatened.


Appropriately, we were in the Shelter Bar of the Story Bridge Hotel with our dear friend Stephen. We all went to Kapunda High, but it had been years since we’d sat around a pub table. Working in aviation, he’s lived in Queensland for many a decade.


Continuing my misappropriated maxim of act local, drink global, I opted for a Balter XPA brewed down the road in Currumbin while Claire chose a house white. Mine was tasty and compelling but it was late afternoon on a Friday, a time when I’ve been known to stick my bonce in a sheep trough and come up smiling.


At school and in those golden years immediately following, we were close with Stephen. He owned a new lime green Gemini. It had that most miraculous automotive accessory of the late twentieth century: the sunroof. Which when coupled with a Midnight Oil or Australian Crawl cassette made for unparalleled exhilaration on, say, the straight stretch past Freeling in transit to Adelaide Oval.


Dining and sipping, Stephen reminded us of the old Story Bridge boozer. “It had low ceilings. Was always smoky and sweaty. I saw many bands in here. It’s one of a few iconic Brisbane pubs.” Looking about all was glass, polished timber and shafts of light. I wondered if the renovations had robbed it of its rough charisma, and imagined that I could be in Perth or London or Singapore.


Then I spotted a brush turkey pecking a chip in the beer garden. Perhaps not.


Our pies were magnificent.


The meat was tender, the pastry was suitably flaky and inviting to both fork and mouth, and the caramelised onions slumped over the lid were a zesty, brown treat. My coleslaw was a little bland; a result of over-reliance upon cabbage in the same way that if Prince Charles was a sole after-dinner speaker, then the entertainment might be wanting.


Claire’s mash was pinnacle potato. Of course.


Immediately upon collecting us at the airport I recalled why we’d been friends with Stephen. He was interesting, thoughtful, witty and generous. Although it’d been years, too many years, we chatted as if one had simply ducked into the loo and re-joined the circle in Kapunda’s Clare Castle Hotel.


We spoke of the re-emergence of vinyl records and Stephen’s proud purchases including Daddy Cool and Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica which, like Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, was an album that only revealed its curious but profound charms when our adolescence was safely in the rear-view mirror (of the Gemini).


We had another drink. I stayed with the Gold Coast’s own and Claire switched from house white to house red. This was catastrophic (in a decidedly first world way) with the wine undrinkable, even, I suspect, by alcoholic cats. I wondered about the marketing potential in travelling about our vast country, and cataloguing and reviewing house wines for a specific, perhaps, caravanning audience. As my old Wudinna mate Dick would say, “It’s a pissabolity.”


Having moved easily and happily between the present and the recent and not-so-recent past, it was time for us to go. It had been a wonderful afternoon of nostalgia and news.


Kangaroo Point’s Story Bridge Hotel is a superb place for old friends. Especially those who shared many a moment in a lime green Gemini.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.



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, you must have been in Brisbane on one of its two or three genuine winter days for the year! The Story Bridge Hotel certainly is a Brisbane pub icon along with the likes of the Regatta and the Breakfast Creek.

  2. Thanks Ian. There’s a story in pubs that’ve been name-dropped in rock music with Midnight Oil referencing Brekky Creek in Dreamworld-

    The Breakfast Creek hotel is up for sale,
    The last square mile of terra firma gavelled in the mail,
    So farewell to the Norfolk Island pines,
    No amount of make believe can help this heart of mine.

  3. Bravo, Mickey.
    As a pub connoisseur, I am really enjoying these reviews.
    Keep them coming!

  4. Thanks Smokie. Spending a week in Sweden early next year and am curious about the local pub possibilities. I suspect to enjoy a beer with a diaeresis (umlaut) in its name.

  5. Superb Mickey the house red absolute gold 3 votes

  6. roger lowrey says

    Dear oh dear. Chips and coleslaw? Obviously you can take the boy out of Kapunda but you can never quite take the Kapunda out of the boy huh?

    Anyway, on a separate but related matter, I reckon Astral Weeks makes Ulysses look relatively reader friendly just quietly.

    Enjoy your peripatetic observations my friend. You know, sort of like a modern Samuel Johnson but unlike surveying “mankind from China to Peru” you could perhaps start by doing so from “the Kapunda tennis club circa 1980s to the Story Bridge Hotel circa 2019”. Baby steps. I’ll enjoy the read.

    I’m sure there is a publisher waiting out there somewhere.


  7. Thanks Malcolm. Appreciate it.

    Roger- I reckon Sweet Thing from Astral Weeks is among Van’s finest moments: effervescent, poetic, joyous. It took me many attempts over twenty years to complete Ulysses, and in this life I’m probably unlikely to get through Finnegans Wake. Now, there’s a challenge!

  8. roger lowrey says

    Nup. Pass. And I’m in the same boat with you on Ulysses.

  9. Ian – I’ll cancel the Astral Weeks listening and Ulysses reading party I was about to send you an invite for!

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    9 times out of 10 go for the mashed spuds. On the 10th time think about the coleslaw, but still go for the mash.
    Another entertaining review Mickey.

  11. Daryl Schramm says

    Always ask for a taste of the house red, especially if the label (if there is one) is not known to you. I also am loving the pub reviews, especially if I have been in them myself, as I have (twice) with the Story Bridge. The first time was when Craigy had just taken over the reigns of the Crows and we were thumped by a gazillion. The second time was with the leader of the house; a much quieter affair.

  12. Luke- like you I should in future take my spud advice from IM Chappell, as should we all.

    Daryl- I remember that match against Brisbane as we were streaming the 5AA radio broadcast driving around New Forest, eventually abandoning it in favour of enjoying our surroundings and the ponies.

    On potato: In the fine Welsh pub the Moon and Sixpence (adjacent to Tintern and its abbey) I once saw a bloke who had chips, mashed spud and potato salad on his plate along with a steak. Such singularity in his application!

    Thanks to everyone.

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