So I was listening to 6PR this morning. (Don’t judge. They had me on the other day to talk about what a brilliant historian I am, so some quality listening time was owing.)
Anyway, speaking this morning was some head honcho of whatever company now owns the Raffles. He was claiming that it had the first beer garden in Australia.
Whenever anyone claims that they have the ‘first’ something, my historian spider-sense tingles and tells me that it almost certainly marketing BS.
And I was right. However, in this case it was 1937 marketing BS, to promote the Hotel Raffles’ new biergarten. But it was a lie then, and it remains a lie now. Even the Style Council’s heritage assessment of the Raffles only makes that claim it was the first beer garden in Perth.
And, for once, the Style Council is right. The first beer garden in WA, and perhaps Australia, was in Wiluna, in the attractive Weeloona Hotel pictured above, as well as another pub in the town, the Commercial Hotel. Both predate the one at Canning Bridge by a couple of years.
The two pubs had their grounds grassed, and planted creepers, shrubs and flowers. Both allowed an area for an orchestra to perform.
But who would be able to resist the Weeloona’s star attraction? A kurrajong tree transported more than 50km to its new garden home.
Bottoms up everyone!