Pub Review: Dingo Pub

Rodney splashed more chardonnay into the glass.

Moving about his bar with suppressed nervous energy, he now declared, “As I’ve filled it above the line I’m obliged by Queensland law to inform you of this because you mightn’t want the extra wine.”

Unsurprisingly for a Kapunda girl, Claire dismissed that idea with a, “No, thanks, that’ll be fine.”

It was around 2pm on a Tuesday in Dingo Beach. We were in the Whitsundays. We had explored the beach – the tide was out – but did not swim because of stingers and Irukandji jellyfish. I had read that Irukandji jellyfish actively hunt their prey. I had little interest in becoming prey to a tiny, blobby marine killer, especially as Glenelg had just won the SANFL premiership.

Rodney has four beers on tap: XXXX, XXXX Gold and two types of Great Northern.

Generally, I have limited truck with these, and might’ve opted for a stubby of Coopers, but surely the traveller’s obligation is to be brave and try to experience life as a local.

So, I took a deep breath, steeled myself and heard these words fall, haltingly, from my quivering gob: “I’ll have a pint of Great Northern, thanks.”

I felt unsteady on my thonged feet. To offer her support in these most difficult of circumstances, Claire rubbed my forearm kindly.

The kitchen had shut so we had an impromptu lunch of cheese and dips and olives at our beer garden table. Rodney did not mind.

A few other Tuesday patrons drifted in and mostly headed to the smoking section. There were older men with orange shirts and ghostly goatees. On the tree between us and the beach, a riot of kookaburras took up brief residency, announcing their arrival with brash Motown song. Then they flew off, possibly seeking Coopers on tap.

Our Mersey cheese was tremendous. It really is the Allan Border of cheeses: predictable, attacking when required; defensive if needed. I stuck another piece on my Jatz (traditional not pepper).

On Sunday we’d bought some supplies in Mackay and seemingly both possessed by one of lesser demons in The Exorcist, dropped some rosemary and gin olives in our trolley. In appropriate contexts all three ingredients are excellent, but put them together and Father Karras can’t save you or Regan, despite the power of Christ.

The olive tub was swiftly despatched to Rodney’s beer garden bin. Apologies to the bin. Apologies to Rodney. Bins deserve better.

We spoke of the town, its wide beach and family-friendly foreshore with playgrounds and barbeques and endless picnic tables. We were both taken by the islands dotted about the ocean. Coming from South Australia our experience with off-shore land masses is largely informed by Granite Island. Switzerland is better served by islands than us.

Keen to swim, Claire asked Rodney of this and he began his circular discourse: ”Well, me and my kids go swimming all the time without stinger suits. But I don’t want to tell you what to do. You might get stung and come back and sue me.”

Claire nodded.

Easing into his work, like Keating and the Redfern speech, Rodney continued, “Me and my kids go swimming all the time without stinger suits. But I don’t want to tell you what to do. You might get stung and come back and sue me.”

Claire excused herself, having developed a sudden taste for gin and rosemary olives.

And my pint of Great Northern?

It was cold and flavoursome and the head was creamy and inviting. In its proper context at the Dingo pub it commanded the stage with quiet confidence.

It was utterly delicious and, of course, now back in a shoe-wearing state, I’m unlikely to ever have another.

About half an hour from Airlie Beach, the Dingo pub is a must when in the Whitsundays.

About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good


  1. When in Rome, Mickey, when in Rome…

  2. It’s a most unremarkable building Smokie, being assembled from cement bricks and possessing little architectural charm. But, like any good pub, I’m sure it’s central to the life of the community. I did spot a robust NRL tipping chart with dozens of names, and reckon this a reliable barometer. There is a room with a pool table and jukebox and I’m sure that “What’s Going On?” by 4 Non Blondes gets persistent attention on Friday nights.

    Thanks for that.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    XXXX, Great Northern, Jellyfish and stingers. Queensland, bland one day, you’ll get killed the next!

  4. While snorkeling on the reef an Irukandji jellyfish drifted by me. I had on a head to toe stinger suit so was safe. But it was fascinating and a little confronting to be close to a deadly creature which was only the size of a marble and with just a few short tentacles.

    Much safer down here in the chilly waters of the Great Southern Ocean, Luke, apart from the sharks, of course!

  5. george smith says

    Memories of Queensland pubs:
    my first Bundy and coke at a Bundaberg hotel, nose full of cane from the mills…

    Great Northern beer or whatever it was called in the 80s with a red emperor and chips at the Commercial hotel in Cairns.

    The beer strike that inflicted my first driving trip to Queensland, had to be content with Tooheys…

    Trying to keep up in a drinking session with 2 giant North of England blokes at the Mundubbera Hotel, ended up tipping my beer into a pot plant.

    Sad farewell to Fourex when I crossed the border into the Northern Territory, replaced by the underwhelming NT Lager.

    Crossing the border the last time in Queensland, heading to the bottle shop and loading up with a case of Fourex, the real stuff (hard to get in Sydney).

  6. George- that’s a great set of memories. I’d add my first visit to the Gabba in 1990 to a Shield game which featured G. Ritchie who’d made a comeback and drinking XXXX and looking out bemusedly at the dog track; frequenting a Gold Coast nightclub in 1987 with some Kapunda mates and enduring my introduction to Bundy with 50 cent cups of it on a Tuesday evening; peering out over the inlet at Port Douglas’s Combined Services Club with a crisp ale and contemplating my good fortune; enjoying a Coopers with an old school mate at the Story Bridge Hotel (more on this soon).

    Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Comment