A watering hole in the bush…

Quenching your thirst is basic to human survival, no more so than whilst travelling our magnificent country. Mind you, quenching your thirst may take many different forms and how you quench it depend on the era you grew up in… 

For Australia’s First Nation People, living near a permanent waterhole on our parched continent has been key to their survival for over sixty thousand years. In seasons of good rains, which are infrequent, they were able stretch out their area of reach, travelling from rock hole to rock hole, in search of food and to trade.  Dreamtime stories providing the roadmap to those faraway rock holes.

With the coming of European settlement, watering holes morphed into hotels and inns, pubs where horses could be watered and where you could get a bed for the night.  And most importantly, where one could wash down the dust from their dry throat after a day ‘on the wallaby’. 

In some cases these watering holes were little more than a shanty with calico walls, where the company was rough and the liquor even rougher still…!

Distances between these establishments was nominal in modern day estimation, usually the distance a horse might be able to travel in a day, perhaps even less so.

These days our travel is usually in an air-conditioned vehicle with little consideration needed other than to fill it up with go-juice to keep it going, which might be petrol or diesel. And long distances are covered between resting times.

Yes, cars need to be serviced, but unless you’re driving a Landrover most vehicles don’t need to be regularly rested like a horse. 

And a note for Landrover owners, we consider ourselves entitled to make Landrover jokes having once owned two Landrover Defenders at the same time, although we have disposed of them and happy to report we are now fully recovered from the experience and leading happy lives once again (tongue firmly in cheek… 😉 )


As we make our way west across the Hay Plain we have been reflecting on some of the pubs we’ve visited in our travels, the characters we’ve met, the tales we’ve heard and the ales we’ve drunk. 

And hey, if you’re travelling out this way and looking for a good spot to camp take the time to check out Sandy Point along the Murrumbidgee River. 

It is a free camp you’ll be sharing with other travellers, but there is plenty of room and it is only a short walking distance into the township of Hay where you’ll find a couple of watering holes in the main street.

And be sure to take the time to visit the Shearer’s Hall of Fame whilst you’re visiting. 

As we made our way further west towards Balranald and a rendezvous with our life-long friends and travelling partners we were giving some thought to where we might stay for the night as the camp area near the old woolshed in Yanga National Park was closed due to recent rains.

And as luck would have it, we discovered the Homebush Hotel at Penarie, which is located on the road towards Ivanhoe and about 30-kilometres north of Balranald.  

Now when we say ‘we discovered’ it is worth noting that the pub was built in 1878 and today it is the only roadside inn that has survived along the road to Ivanhoe. 

We put a phone call in to ‘Nugget’ the publican to check the pub was open.  

And in these Covid times it does pay to check.

“No worries”, Nugget said, and not long after leaving Balranald we had set-up ‘camp’ behind the pub and enjoying a beer beside the warmth of the fire, a central feature in the bar of the pub. 

And you’ve got to like Outback hospitality. Providing you spend a few dollars in the pub you can camp out back for free…! 

Hey, it is no resort, but that suits us fine and it is always nice to get a hot shower in when you can.

Now legend has it that Nugget, in his younger days, was a delivery boy and pizza maker for Eagleboy Pizza’s and even featured in one of its television ads.  

Of this we have no doubt. 

So if you ever stop by at the Homebush Hotel you can’t go wrong ordering one of Nugget’s pizzas, we did and we are still raving about it.

But here’s the thing, next time you’re in an old bush pub like the Homebush take the time to stop and listen ‘cause above the crackle of the fire, or the din of the chatter, you might just hear the voices and laughter of the characters that have long passed…if only the walls could talk, hey…?

Photos: Janet & Baz

About us…

We love the colours of the Australian Outback, the ochre red earth touching a deep blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a turquoise blue sea; and the characters you meet in a quiet country pub, where it is nothing flash, but you are enriched by the encounter…

In 2017 we decided it was time to “graduate from work” and re-enter “the classroom of life” where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.

Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

Cheers, Baz & Janet