The Renown Tavern; The Louisiana Shakers

On Monday it was my special holiday. Miss K was at work. Just enough colleagues were as well that I could relish the schadenfreude so essential for a successful random day off. I ambled up to eat baked eggs at Birdman Eating, coffee at Gertrude St Enoteca (sorry Dr Java), and get my mop chopped at Dr Follicles. Folly was closed and so was Birdy. That was a blow. Shaggy haired and hardened by hunger, the coffee at Gert’s no longer appealed. I tried Dante’s, but Maria wasn’t there. No one new me. The place was empty. I popped across the road to the Renown Tavern, one of the least blinged-up pubs in the inner city. A former manager who left in “very bitter circumstances” had gaily advertised the unrenovated air of the place in chalk on the side of the building, and I thought any place in Fitzroy that advertised its lack of renovation warranted a visit in order to stave off renovation any longer. Continue reading “The Renown Tavern; The Louisiana Shakers”

Staying in country pubs (I knew the discipline would slip sooner or later)

Henceforth, this is no longer a blog about Abbotsford as I choose to define Abbotsford. It is about that and country pubs, in particular those with old fashioned accommodation still operational (endangered species). There is a Flickr group on the subject (a future project of mine) but precious little else. If you know any other than Jeparit’s Hindmarsh Hotel, Dimboola’s Victoria Hotel, and Queenscliff’s Royal Hotel where you might enthuse about staying, let me know. (I bought Country Pubs of Victoria at Grub St Bookshop yesterday before heading over to the John Wren exhibition at the Racing Museum in Federation Square, of which much more anon.)

I went to Beechworth today and took the Canondale for a spin on the rail trail, discovering in the process the Commercial Hotel, just shy of 150 years old, and apparently in good hands. It is pictured, 3 times (the fourth is a gorgeous house in Beechworth). The pub’s proprietor fellow told me that I wouldn’t find too many hotels in Victoria in as original a condition as this one, and I believed him. It is a beautiful place — Ned Kelly used to drink there — and you can get a smallish simple clean rennovated double room containing a washbasin and a new bed — nothing else — for $65 a night (3 nights for the price of two) or bed, breakfast and 2 course dinner and champagne for $85 a couple, a bloody good deal.

Fosters Lager born in Abbotsford


From the Sketchbook, I learnt the following:

“Collingwood was the home of the first bottled beer brewed and sold in Melbourne which had a high degree of public acceptance. In 1888 two brothers, W. and R. Foster, built a brewery in Abbotsford, brewing a lager type beer.  The Fosters, fresh from New York, brought the latest American marvel, a beer-bottling machine that proved so popular that the Fosters with their famous lager soon had a monopoly of the bottled beer trade, an action which led to questions in the Victorian Parliament, though these had no effect whatsoever on the popularity or quality of Fosters Lager.”

Thanks to Tino Bao and Alex Tittensor for the photos.