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Published February 16th 2016
Canberra's very first pub - a must on your next pub crawl
The Old Canberra Inn is a historical pub in Lyneham, only 5km's north of the CBD. If you love historical pubs - and even if you don't - this pub is sure to impress with its history, character, beer gardens, good food and live music; all the ingredients of a good pub rolled into one.
From the outside The Old Canberra Inn looks like a rustic pub, a little worn around the edges from a century gone by. This is because the Old Canberra Inn was the first pub in Canberra and it even predates the city itself. The original building was built in 1857 and became a licenced bar in 1876. It was a popular pub and coach stop on the Yass to Queanbeyan mail run until it was sold in 1887 and became a private home until 1974. It was then renovated and relicensed as the Old Canberra Inn. New owners took over the property almost a year ago (in April, 2015) and are enthusiastic about holding onto its historical features and turning it into a pub for the whole community.
There are fireplaces at each end of the building, exposed timber beams and wall panels, dark furnishings, comfy couches and antique armchairs. There is so much to explore just in the main bar alone, yet there is more to discover.
On our visit we were warmly welcomed in by the friendly owners who explained where the different features of the pub were located including the beer gardens to sit outside, kids' play area, historical photos, and where the kitchen is located to pick up your meal.
Kids area with chalkboard, cubby down the end and a range of toddler toys to play with
With a reasonably priced menu in hand (see menu here), we sat down to decide what we wanted from the extensive menu. As we were visiting during the weekday we took advantage of their current $12 lunch special (only between 11:30am - 3pm Mondays to Fridays) and the $10 kids meal for our daughter. We ordered at the bar, received our buzzer and continued exploring while we waited.
In the function room next door, open to the public when not in use, we found a games room with pool table, pinball, shooting game, darts and large jenga set and yet another outdoor area covered in beautiful wisteria vine.
After a short time, with flashing buzzer in hand, we returned to the newly updated kitchen to receive our meals and enjoy them in the games room. Our meals were simply delicious. With fresh ingredients and tasty dressings, the quality of the "pub grub" coming out of this (tiny!) kitchen is exceptional.
$12 weekday lunch special - Vegetarian Lasagne with grilled eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms, fresh ricotta, basil and oregano. Served with salad.
After a play on the pinball machines we were off exploring again and discovered the Kookaburra Room. This dining area has been recently renovated with new pendant lighting — still in keeping with the era — and striking kookaburra wallpaper, the highlight of this large dining room.
As we left this friendly and fascinating pub, one of the owners asked how we had enjoyed ourselves and I just said simply "Loved it - we will see you again soon". With my love of early Canberra history, it is a treasure trove of stories and surprises in every corner and nailed on the wall. It is also a pub where you want to meet up with friends, enjoy good food, explore something different than the usual lunch venue and chill out to live music in a family friendly atmosphere. See their Facebook page for details of the next live music and events.
It was true, we will be back soon and help support this local pub in holding onto Canberra's historical beginnings. With so many new eateries opening in the city, it is a unique experience to return to Canberra's humble beginnings and enjoy a beer or two at Canberra's very first pub.