I was the child of Country Publicans.

Me (middle) terrorising the Punters in Dubbo
Not a candidate for Toddlers & Tiaras, clearly…

Stale cigarette smoke and the gentle aroma of urine. Sweaty men in shearer’s singlets drinking large schooners of KB while listening to the races on the radio. The large steaks going out to punters over the bar, as my parents poured beers and kept the banter going.

Not a scenario that one many kids may identify as one’s first memory, but it is mine.

I was the child of Country Publicans.

Mum and Dad owned country pubs in New South Wales. Narrabri and Dubbo to be precise. This was an honorable pursuit in an era where the Country Pub was the heart of any rural community. Dad would call “Last Drinks” before escorting the intoxicated out to their waiting cars. There was no such thing as a booze bus back then. The biggest worry was wrapping your car and yourself around a telegraph pole or collecting a kangaroo on route to home.

Mum was the cook in the pub and her specialty was Corned Silverside with Onion Sauce. She was famous for it. Men would travel from afar to eat her silverside, which was boiled in water seasoned with cloves, carrots and celery.

Donna Hay? Thoughts? Are we still advocating such culinary practices?

During the 1971 floods though, her cooking reputation came under fire after an incident that saw dozens of men’s health put at risk. The trucks were unable to pass through the town, due to the fact that all the roads were underwater, so the drivers took it upon themselves to make the most of their situation.

This particular situation centered around fermented liquids.

Because they were either bunking upstairs in the lone star accommodation my family’s hotel provided, or in the cabin of their trucks, all meals were taken at the pub.

Day three of the unplanned stranding, the truckers arrived and the lads were hungry.  My grandparents had been visiting and found themselves stuck in town and on the unpaid payroll. The men filed in expecting breakfast, so Mum got cracking.


A dozen fellas hoovered up plates of scrambled eggs and toast and washed it down with a glass of amber liquid. Praised was heaped on the chef before another day of watching the water flow through the public bar commenced.

Later that morning, Mum gave herself a time out and along with her Dad, enjoyed a cup of tea. Mum asked her father to pass the milk, as he had done during her epic egg-whisking episode earlier.  She looked concerned as the milk curdled in her tea and even more concerned when she realized that she had used cloudy ammonia floor cleaner in her much praised scrambled eggs.

She immediately walked into the public bar and demanded that all the truckers put down their schooners and drink a litre of milk, proper non-floor-cleaning milk, really quick.

This was back in the day when you did not get sued for looking at someone sideways.

My parents were particularly proud for being pioneers when it came to introducing Dubbo to strobe lighting. Particularly proud. Someone had to start the disco, and it was Mum and Dad.

What is YOUR earliest memory?
Did you grow up in a different scenario 
than your kids currently are?