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The Original Pub with No Beer

Lees Hotel, The Original Pub with No Beer, the only Hotel in Queens Land with official Iconic status. You can find Lees Hotel on Wikipedia – Lees Hotel, Ingham, Queensland

Visit the pub with no beer –

The Legend. Lees Hotel is undoubtedly the home of “The Pub with No Beer” made famous by Slim Dusty who based the song on the poem “The Pub Without Beer” from Ingham’s favourite poet Dan Sheahan. The song was launched on April 1, 1957 becoming Australia’s very 1st, number 1, worldwide hit. The song was on the flip side of “The Saddle Boys” and took Australia, and then the world by storm. Translated into 7 different languages and in the 1960s became the very first song to be beamed back to Earth from a satellite orbiting in space.

Slim Dusty has confirmed the origin of the song on a number of occasions, not only in his last book “Walk a Country Mile” but also it in his most recently released CD and video. Slim Dusty became good friends with Dan Sheehan and Dan went on to write two more songs for Slim Dusty.

The Story. It was the summer of 1943. The 22nd Bomb Group from the USA were on their way from Brisbane to Port Moresby to fight the enemy and prevent Australia from being invaded. The aircraft they were flying were the “Marauder”, generally considered to be the most dangerous and unreliable aircraft being used by the US at that time, The 22nd Bomb Group a.k.a. “the Red Raiders” loved the aircraft and were generally acknowledged as the best pilots and the best bomb group in the Pacific theater. The convoy had traveled from Brisbane to Townsville and averaged 50 mph [80 kph], a very good speed in those days. They left Townsville at lunchtime expecting to be in Ingham in about 1 1/2 hours.

Unfortunately no one told them about the 70 River and Creek crossings they would have to make, with only 2 bridges. It was the wet season. Imagine arriving at every crossing, driving through flooded creeks with the bank’s turned to a quagmire of mud and mush, every man having to get out of the trucks and physically push them up the banks to get back on the road to the next creek crossing. 14 hours after leaving Townsville they arrived at Lees Hotel [it was then the Day Dawn Hotel] and at 2 o’clock in the morning woke the publican and proceeded to drink the pub dry.

Next morning Dan Sheahan rode his horse in 20 miles [about 30 km] from his property – still owned to this day by the Sheahan family – to his favorite pub to discover that they have run out of beer! With that, Dan takes the only drink available, a warm glass of wine, and retreats to the back of the bar and pens the famous poem. And the rest is history.

Australian Bicentennial Heritage and Environment Program

Lee’s Hotel, a pivotal piece of Australian history, has a remarkable tale intertwined with the nation’s Bicentennial celebrations. While the Australian Bicentennial Exhibition took center stage in Melbourne in September 1985 – funded by substantial contributions from the Commonwealth and BHP, Lee’s Hotel, located in Ingham, has its own unique narrative to share. This iconic establishment holds the distinction of being the true “Pub with No Beer,” challenging the prevailing belief that Taylors Arm Hotel, NSW held this title. The legendary song, originally based on Dan Sheahan’s poetic ode to the Day Dawn Hotel (now known as Lee’s Hotel), gained fame after Gordon Parsons rewrote it in 1956 and Slim Dusty popularized it. Sheahan’s poem drew inspiration from his visit to the pub, where American servicemen, in celebration of their Battle of the Coral Sea victory, had drank it dry. The Australian Bicentennial Heritage and Environment Program officially recognized Lee’s Hotel as the rightful Pub with No Beer in 1986, cementing its place in history (Aussie Towns, 2018). In recent years, Lee’s Hotel has undergone renovations and now proudly showcases memorabilia from Ingham’s early days, paying homage to Dan Sheahan and Slim Dusty, ensuring the preservation of this unique slice of Australian heritage.

Learn more about our history as The Pub With No Beer