When they use the word “pub,” most Americans are thinking of a bar. However, in British and Australian use, “pub” is short for “public house,” a place where the community could and still does gather. Now granted, a pub inevitably has a bar, and may even be used primarily for its bar, but pub does not mean bar. Pubs often have other facilities, such as a dining room, a lounge, and possibly even a few rooms for travelers. Of course, as soon as you add a few rooms, the pub becomes a hotel. (Though not all hotels are pubs—except perhaps in very rural areas, where they don’t have hotels that are hotels only, with no pub.)
Australia has many pubs, and the pubs that are in rural areas—the bush or outback—are more likely than their urban counterparts to offer overnight accommodations. After all, drovers (Aussie cowboys), miners, merchants, mailmen, and other travelers on the long, dusty tracks needed places to stay as they crossed the wide land.
During our drive down the Queensland coast, from Cooktown back to Cairns, we stopped to see one of the older pubs of this region, the Lions Den Hotel. Its construction is pretty much what one comes to expect of historic outback pubs—wood beams, corrugated metal roof, broad veranda. I immediately loved the look, and delighted in these rustic pubs wherever I saw them across Australia—and even made special trips to some of the more famous ones (such as the great old pub in Birdsville—but that was on a different trip).
Here’s a shot of the Lions Den Hotel south of Cooktown.