The Northern Territory’s Best Outback Pubs

Relive scenes from Crocodile Dundee and We Of the Never Never at outback outposts across the Northern Territory. From their days of feeding railroad workers and the builders of the Overland Telegraph Line to their role in housing and revitalizing long-distance travelers, outback pubs are where the characters live and the memories are made, and many are as relevant today as they were in the late 1800s. Shout (buy a drink) for the patron next to you and you might have a mate for life.

16 Stuart St, Daly Waters NT 0852, Australia
The Daly Waters is everything an outback pub should be: kitschy but “fair dinkum” (genuine) and in the middle of Woop Woop (the Aussie term for “the Boonies”) but still offering revitalizing grub and grog. Oh and there must be beds, considering the next one could be a few hundred miles away. This ancient watering hole, established in 1893 and named after this small town along the Explorers Way between Alice Springs and Darwin, ticks all the boxes and then some. The tap beer is delightfully cold (kept at a degree below freezing), and food offerings range from kangaroo loin and crocodile sliders to chicken shnitzel. The decor is the best part; everywhere you look there are hilarious mementos left by patrons. Are those bras over there? Yup. An Irish hurling stick? Yeeeaah. Why is that weird?
Homestead Road
This pub was made famous in Jeannie Gunn’s book We of the Never Never and a 1980 film of the same name. Gunn’s husband, Aeneas, is buried in the local cemetery, and the town has completely embraced the slogan “Capital of the Never Never,” even starting a Never Never Festival in honor of the story that put Mataranka on the map. The mock-up of the homestead used in filming is next to the bar’s car park. After you’ve explored the town and swam in one of its many thermal pools, cool down with a frosty beer in one of the outback’s most famous rooms.
120 Stuart Hwy, Adelaide River NT 0846, Australia
The town of Adelaide River, about an hour south of Darwin near the entrance to Kakadu National Park, has a layered history, starting with its role as a base for workers constructing the Overland Telegraph Line and continuing with its military presence during World War II and an influx of gold prospectors in the 1970s. Today, travelers mainly come to visit Charlie, the water buffalo that Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) hypnotizes to the ground in the outback hit Crocodile Dundee. Charlie passed away in 2000, and since he was a loyal patron of the Adelaide River Inn for so long, he was stuffed and hung for all to appreciate.
Kakadu Hwy, Jabiru NT 0886, Australia
At the indigenous-owned Cooinda Lodge, near Kakadu National Park’s famous Yellow Waters billabong, grab a seat at one the picnic tables at Barra Bar & Bistro and order the Taste of Kakadu platter. It features creative bush concoctions such as crocodile spring rolls, barramundi pie, buffalo kofta and kangaroo skewers served with Kakadu plum chili sauce and bush tomato relish.
You’ll need to hire your own boat to get here, so it’s not the sort of pub you can simply stop into for a drink. But adventurous travelers seeking an offbeat drop and stay should look no further than this charming speck of an island in the middle of the Adelaide River. Yep, that’s the same Adelaide River that’s famous for jumping crocodiles. Kai Hansen (you’ll quickly understand why he’s been nicknamed “Happy”) is the sole inhabitant of Goat Island, unless you count his pet: an 11-foot, 770-pound saltwater crocodile named Casey. The bar is named after the joint’s toothy friend and serves burgers, hot dogs, fresh-caught barramundi, local crayfish and Kai’s famous croc balls. Don’t tell Casey what they’re made of. The place has long been a haunt of local fishermen, but the word got out. Call Jim at Arafura Boat Hire (+61 8-8988-1265) and tell him Happy sent you.
Long before there was real tourism in Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park—indeed before the region was declared a national park—Peter Severin arrived to Curtin Springs with his young wife Dawn, a toddler and 1500 cattle. Severin must have had a hunch because the first tours to Uluru started the following year. The cattle station is still in operation today as is the pub, motel and general store that formed the first tourist outpost outside Alice Springs. What’s newer are walking tours that explore the million-acre cattle farm and wildlife corridor as well as nearby salt lakes and Mount Conner. Book a full-moon salt lake excursion and then relax with some amber fluid (beer) in the old Bough Shed that’s been sheltering travelers for decades.
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