The famous Humpty Doo Hotel is sticking firmly to its roots as a good, old-fashioned, outback pub.

Story Terri Cowley  Photos Peter Pap

It’s Friday afternoon and the long bar at the iconic Humpty Doo Hotel is filling up with relaxed locals and curious visitors. Quickly the tempo goes up a notch, as 2 busloads of cruise ship passengers from Darwin disgorge into the car park and head inside. 

Manager Alex Taylor and her staff are flat out until the tourists leave an hour later, ending their excursion to experience a bit of outback hospitality. You couldn’t pick a better place.

Many pubs in the Territory have been modernised and decluttered, but not the Humpty Doo Hotel. “We want to keep it as a classic Aussie-style pub,” Alex says. “We don’t want it to be too modernised. Everyone loves it the way it is. The modern ones all look exactly the same. We want to keep the country feel.”

What is claimed to be the world’s biggest set of buffalo horns sits behind the bar along with various Darwin stubbies, signs, souvenirs and merchandise that would look kitsch anywhere else.

Overhead fans are working hard, but the heat of the day drifts in as retiree Phil Morrissy has a beer. Originally a Victorian from Colac, Phil has lived in the Territory for more than 50 years – the last 32 in Humpty Doo.

This story excerpt is from Issue #150

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2023