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Where is the Best Pub Sign in Sydney?

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by Rota (subscribe)
Still out and about
Published February 22nd 2014
There is a widely enjoyed pub culture here in Australia, but our love of our 'local' comes down to more than just great pub food, good beer, and our friendly barman. Of the many elements that go into creating the quintessential Australian pub, one that receives little tribute is the "pub sign".

Like me, you have probably stood waiting for your drink when one of these clever signs has caught your eye. Whether framed and hung near the bar, or a painted bit of board or piece of paper tacked in a corner, they are a feature of pubs that continues to delight.



Aside from their obvious comic value, great pub signs enhance the character and identity of any watering-hole. They set the tone for the visit, welcoming with an easy-going good humour. And they have the extraordinary ability to make you feel like a local - no matter where you are from.

Pub signs can be a social lubricant in a bar of strangers. But they are also a great conversation starter among friends, and are enjoyed no less over a solitary schooner.

pub signs
Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes at the Granville Hotel


And first-rate pub signs can be found all over Sydney. But what does it take to make a great pub sign?

The general rule of thumb is a lot of tongue-in-cheek with a hint of truth thrown in. Without fail the element of surprise can make a sign more entertaining, and you will find some of the best pub signs located in odd and unexpected places.

Ettamogah Pub, Kellyville Ridge
Keeping it large at the Ettamogah Pub, Kellyville Ridge


pub signs, toilet, the friend in hand
Cheeky signs in the men's toilet at the The Friend in Hand Hotel, Glebe


pub signs, the mean fiddler
Humour under the staircase at The Mean Fiddler, Rouse Hill


Some of the more memorable signs are in rhyme. They usually come in the form of a grandiloquent ode, and almost always extol the virtues of a fine brew. These engaging signs tend to be a little more lengthy and may even comprise of afew stanzas.

beer prayer
Let us Pray! - at the Raby Tavern, Raby


By contrast, equally appealing are pub signs that are straight to the point, and even mildly admonishing. Take for instance this word of warning, designed to ensure you pay for your tipple:

pub signs, The Friend in Hand Hotel
Something to remember - The Friend in Hand Hotel, Glebe


Or consider this colourful number that warns against letting kids run free.

pub signs sydney, kurrajong heights hotel
This sign graces the wall at the Kurrajong Heights Hotel


Other popular themes found on pub signs include: escaping from your other half, bad booze-fuelled decisions, how to numb your feelings, and the dreaded hangover . But some signs are altogether unique, like this reminder of times past at the Kings Cross Hotel.



Pub signs are a sorely undervalued feature of our pubs, but they are instrumental - along with the cardboard coasters, and the sports commentary - in forming the comforting backdrop of an Aussie pub experience. They are a simple, yet enduring source of entertainment.

Do you love pub signs and believe, as I do, that they add charm and character to our beer houses?

Do you have a great bar near you that's got wit on its walls? Or perhaps you have an ale-inspired sign suggestion for Sydney's publicans?

Let us know. Cheers!
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I have seen the 'unattended' children sign before. It is definitely one of my favourites.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12442) 2007 days ago
I like the Mirror Sign, not enough of us can laugh at our selves.
by Chisel (score: 0|5) 2004 days ago

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