Posted On 22 Feb 2024
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This entry is part 14 of 25 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#23





A lifetime ago in the Negev desert I sipped sheep milk from a cup. Wat’ha, the Bedouin matriarch of this group had strained the flies out of it by pouring it over the back of her hand and allowing the warm fluid to seep between her fingers and into my cup. I drank out of courtesy. Almost enjoyed it. As we chatted the sun went down and a full moon rose and she explained to me how

Bush telegraph

Some other good news / bad news for country pubs: Sadly, the iconic Conargo pub burned down recently. In better news, during January, February and March the Stockman Hotel in Texas, Queensland is giving free accommodation to all pillions who share a room with the rider. Make plans to go to Texas now!

Bedouins used the moon’s phase and place in the sky to tell the time at night.

She explained how a full moon always rises at sunset, a half moon at midday or midnight and how these ancient people could use the combinations to closely calculate the time of night. I felt so damn dumb knowing that I’d got to 25 years bereft of such lunar understanding.

So anyway I always think of Wat’ha when I’m relating in any way to the moon and a few months back I was on Bribie Island waiting at sunset for the scheduled appearance of a full moon over the Coral Sea when my mate Mitty-the-Grub tells me that he’s planning a weekend riding the Bunya Mountains which are a quick 200km blat west up the D’Aguilar Hwy. And he wants to know a good place to stay a couple of nights.

As a liquid moon squeezes up from the sea and I get a couple of shots, Mitty knocks the tops off another couple of coldies and we grab another sanger off the hotplate. I realise that unlike a lot of places where discovering a good place to stay is more diffi cult than changing a tyre while you’re riding, fi nding a good motorcycle friendly pub as a base for a Bunya weekend is as easy as fi nding a needle in a, well, a needlestack.

So, after telling Mitty about sauce he’s once again dribbled all down his (only) shirtfront, I tell him about my favourite couple of pubs out there and tell him it’s really down to whether he’s on his own or with a decent sized group:

He’s going to be coming up the D’Aguilar from the Sunny Coast so Blackbutt is the real gateway to Bunya and if it’s not illegal to not stop at their woodfi red pie shop for one of the best pies around, then it should be. From here you continue to Yarraman and head south for 20km for Cooyar and the Royal Hotel.

This is probably the best place to stay if you are riding with a larger group.

It’s one of my favourite pubs although Karen the owner might be one of the ugliest bar women in the state (even though she’s not quite as ugly as a few years back) but that shouldn’t deter you.

A room here will cost you $45 and if you arrive without a partner and all the doubles haven’t been shotgunned, you’ll get a wide bed at no extra.

There’s only nine rooms but there’re six more beds out on the veranda which’ll set you back just ten each and sure look like they’d be fun for a group! There’s also a well grassed free camping area out the back where you can swag at no cost other than the three bucks for the showers in the morning. *

The bathrooms are clean and well maintained as are the rooms which have tables and suffi cient power outlets. In the morning you can make a brew in the kitchen then head back up to the back veranda and watch the sunrise from your rocking chair.

I’ve got no idea what the population of Cooyar is but I’m damn sure more people (and cattle) pass through it each day than live there all year. But for the few locals there are, this is obviously a hub, a place where they love coming as Karen loves having them around.

And there’s no animosity between the regs and the blow-ins and unless you’re perching on one of ‘their’ stools when they arrive, you’ll be pulled into their conversations from the outset.

Drop in on a Wednesday and you’ll have a mixed BBQ cooked out the back, Fridays are Pizza Night and for the rest of the week there’s a good pub grub menu. You can park your ride undercover in the huge beer garden out the back where you’ll likely find some other locals just jamming away for the fun of it.

Karen and her business partner Shirley have had the Royal at Cooyar for 6 years and it’s one of the most welcoming pubs around. Karen lost her husband to leukaemia 25 years ago and ever since has devoted a lot of time to raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation with her special passion being helping the accommodation costs for relatives of sufferers who are in long term hospital care in Brisbane.

Each year the Foundation runs the UGLY bartender of the year award and (hah… the penny is dropping isn’t it and you can see where this is heading eh?) and in the past five years Karen has won it three times, and had a second and most recently a third.

It’s based on funds raised and UGLY stands for Understanding Generous Likeable You.

So that’s why she’s ugly and another reason for staying at her pub. * And it’s another reason why, even if you swag and don’t have a shower, chuck in a few bucks and let’s see if we can get Karen (who’s raised over $85K) back to her rightful position as the Ugliest Bartender of the Year.

The Cooyar Royal rated just into the 4 Helmet Range with a value index of 185 where anything over 100 is good.

Royal Hotel Cooyar, Munro St Cooyar T: 07 4692 6185 Ask for Karen.

If you are on your own or with just a couple of mates, or if night traffic noise is a problem for you, you might wanna head a bit south then south west from Cooyar to Quinalow. (Yeah I know, I’d never heard of it either til recently!)

The Quinalow Pub is owned (again) by Greg and Cheryl who’ve had it this time since 2012 when they bought it from the bloke who bought it from the fella who’d bought it from the bloke who’d Greg and Cheryl sold it to 20 years ago.

(You follow that?)

Greg, an ex-taxi driver, plasterer, restaurant owner, ex lots of other stuff and Cheryl, both hard core biking people, sold out of pubs and kinda retired to their boat but kept coming back to this pub because they loved the village and its locals. In late 2011 the bloke who owned it was looking to get out and retire to a life on the ocean waves and I guess you’re ahead of me….

Greg and Cheryl figured if they were to return to Quinalow they had no need for the boat so they traded it in for the pub and fixed the remaining quarter in hard earned and they were back.

The pub’s a work in progress and has just the 4 rooms; a pair of doubles, a twin and a single. Turn up on your own and it’ll set you back an even $50, same for two in the one bed while a twin will be just ten bucks more.

The couple also owns the caravan park across the road and you can swag there for free on the honour system of spending the money you save back at the bar.

The rooms are spartan but all have reverse cycle air-con and windows which open. Traffic noise is zilch and once the evening laughter from the bar subsides you’ll easily be able to hear the snoring of your mate!

There’s no gambling at the Quinalow, no screaming race commentary drowning out conversations, but there’s a great pool table, a well-stocked juke box and good food coming out of the kitchen seven days a week from 12 to 2 and 6 to 8pm.

Again there’s what’s called by people who seem never to have been to the continent, a ‘continental breakfast’ and you can store your hydration backs and drinks in the kitchen fridges and freezers.

There’s undercover lockup parking available (just watch out for Greg’s bikes) and if you are dirty, wet or cold, there’s a washing machine and dryer.

This is a tiny pub with a huge heart. It’s got shortcomings but the friendliness of the staff and the locals plaster over any cracks.

You stay there and in not too many moons, you’ll go back, probably not to drink warm sheep milk, but to share stories of your day’s riding through the nearby mountain roads.

The Quinalow rated 3 helmets on our scale with a value rating of 140 where anything over 100 is good.

Quinalow Hotel, Haden MacLagan Rd, Quinalow, T: 07 4692 1167 ask for Greg or Cheryl.

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