A review of the Hotel Brunswick in Brunswick Heads, NSW: a truly great Australian Pub.
Great Australian Pubs
Mullumbimbi St, Brunswick Heads, NSW
By Craig Tansley
When I die (and if I go to Heaven) I pray to God there’s a pub like the Hotel Brunswick waiting for me. In a region that’s gone a little mad with development, the Hotel Brunswick remains the same good, honest, simple watering hole it was when it was built 65 years ago, with not a celebrity in sight (unless you count retired political commentator Mungo McCallum, who’s a regular).
With a beer garden that peers out over a winding river, a public bar and cheap rooms that retain their WWII-era style, the Hotel Brunswick has been a local’s secret for a very long time. The first hotel originated on the site in 1884, then the man who built most of Surfers Paradise, James Cavill, replaced it in 1940. Despite the pub going through a few facelifts since then, it still has that same old-world charm and enough crusty old locals who were probably there on opening day.
Best counter meal: With its full bistro, this is one area the Hotel Brunswick has expanded upon. You’d be a fool not to go for local seafood: the co-op’s only 500m away. Keep it simple: try the local prawns with tartare sauce. They’re to die for.
Goings on: Check out the best live musicians in the Byron Shire on Friday and Saturday nights – although Sunday afternoon live acts are often the best, especially when it’s sunny, the tide is high and you’re relaxing in the beer garden. National and international acts play the odd set. There’s a full TAB set-up inside, pokies (although, thankfully, in a separate room), pool tables, wide screen TV and darts.
Point of difference: It’s a pub for everyone. Old-timers, bikies, families, teenagers, businessmen . . . but they seem to mix in a way you simply don’t see at other pubs – in 13 years of drinking there, I’ve seen maybe four fights. Visiting the Brunswick is like taking a look back at history – a snapshot of our past – with its World War grandeur and semi-hippie vibe.
Level of menace: Locals keep an eye out for trouble, with many problem out-of-towners evicted before they can land a punch. It’s safe for families, and that’s got to mean something.
Sleep well? There are 14 rooms upstairs, with most offering a balcony with river views. Double and twin rooms are $60 a night, single rooms are $35 a night and family rooms are $70. The incredible thing is the tariff stays the same year round – even at Christmas.
Serve me: It’s an open bar, meaning you have loads of room to manoeuvre and get to the service area. There are plenty of bar attendants, so there’s never too long a wait.
Yardstick: You can still nab a schooner of VB at the bar for $3.60, middies for $2.80.
Contact: (02) 6685 1236 or www.hotelbrunswick.com.au.