Anyone who tours from pub to pub in the hinterland of the red continent not only meets gold diggers, soldiers of fortune and men of God, he also encounters the original Australia.
The house is exactly as old as the sensational find that made this dump into the headlines. The year is 1872, when Bernhard Otto Holtermann, born in Hamburg, and Louis Beyers of Polish descent came across a huge gold nugget in the “Star of Hope Mine” that changed everyday life in the gold mining town of Hill End. The chunk they mine weighs 214 kilos. Its value today: more than seven million Australian dollars. So far, the monster specimen, the monster specimen, is the largest of its kind. The recently opened “Royal Hotel” on Clarke Street towers over the town, the two-story brick building is the fanciest of all 28 establishments in Hill End and immediately benefits from the tumult of the gold rush : The beer flows freely, the vice is omnipresent.
Pub – that’s short for public house. In fact, these houses are still at the center of social life. In the hinterland, the pub is not only a place of entertainment, but also a meeting place. With playrooms for kids, TV rooms for teens, dining rooms for families, courtyards for BBQs, lounge corners for women and of course various counters for men who meet here every evening and indulge their two favorite passions: knock-off beer and betting.
Although Australia only accounts for one percent of the world’s population, it has 20 percent of all gaming machines. Every pub hotel has its pokie, the games room. Horses or dogs, fishing or car racing – there is nothing the Aussies won’t bet on. However, it is rather unusual for them to be read at mass over beer. In Toowoomba, Archdeacon Gary Harch of St James’ Anglican Church welcomes his congregation to the Irish Club Hotel twice a year and prays with them. “If my sheep don’t come to me anymore, I’ll just go to them,” he says and grins at Guinness at his divine marketing idea.