Local Canberran. Reluctant member of the Smashed Avo set. Lover of the classics.
Published May 28th 2018
Show your colours and support your local
As the days get colder, darker and shorter here in Canberra, I think it's important to stop and dwell for a moment on the positives. I'm not a particularly glass half-full person but for this, I will make an exception: we are on the cusp of State of Origin.
For those who don't know the concept, State of Origin is three games of rugby league played by the best 13 players from New South Wales and the best 13 from Queensland (or northern NSW depending on where you draw the border). Kick off on the first game is on Wednesday 6 June 2018.
You may think that because we're in the ACT or 'neutral territory' nobody in Canberra is interested. I beg to differ. Between the ridiculous lead up to the game, the fake hostility between teams and coaches, the old legends coming out to give their five cents' worth and the actual event, there is something for everyone. Plus a couple of Raiders have made the squads and we've got to support them, right?
I've put together my personal list of the best pubs and clubs around Canberra to watch the State of Origin. My selection criteria are three-fold: food, viewing options (i.e. TV size) and atmosphere. It's not an exhaustive list and I'll put my hand up here too: I don't get to some of these parts of Canberra that often. Maybe you can add to the list and suggest other top spots?
So book early and enjoy. Oh and go the Maroons!
Hands down, The Dock on the Kingston Foreshore is the best sports pub in town. The atmosphere is always fantastic – it's guaranteed to sell out – and there are almost as many TV screens as patrons. The food is also amazing – I can personally vouch for their pizzas – meaning it's the holy trinity of Origin viewing venues. And I don't know about you but I like to watch my footy with a couple of crazies. Some absolute diehards are bound to show up for the game which always makes things interesting.
Two entries from Lonsdale Street make the cut. Debacle is an old favourite. Not particularly flash but the two TV screens (projectors I think) are massive. It's a large space and they can fit a lot of people in. Pizzas at Debacle are good too and perfect for a cold night in front of the footy. Civic Pub makes up for the smaller televisions by its food, hands down the best pub grub around. Plus they're true blue league fans there too; not union fans who slum it during Origin season. And that has to count for something!
Call me predictable but my entry for Belconnen is The Lighthouse Pub. It's a great local pub. And it scores a couple of bonus points for practically being waterfront. Again, plenty of atmosphere and plenty of drinks available on tap. Not bad hot chips either.
A couple of entries for Gungahlin. Firstly, an old classic. Siren Bar and Grillis sure to attract a good crowd. That's atmosphere checked off. And the menu is actually pretty classy. As a part-time vegetarian, it's nice when a pub's standard vegetarian burger is grilled halloumi and not a giant soggy mushroom. And it's not a bad cocktail menu either.
The Gungahlin Lakes Club is gearing up for Origin with drinks specials and giveaways. And there's no need to go to the restaurant. Sufficiently respectable bar snacks are available over the counter. And, if you're that way inclined, you can sneak off to the TAB onsite for a discrete bet on first tryscorer.
A quick shout out to the new kid on the block. Casey Jonesin Casey has a very clever menu – not to mention Wing It Wednesdays coinciding with game night – and a stellar list of beers and wines on tap. There's something to be said about watching the big game at a smaller, local venue.
Regular Wednesday night special at Siren Bar and Grill, Gungahlin
Last but not least is my favourite venue in Tuggeranong. Erindale Vikingsis a truly great club. Plenty of space for a large party and the food is fantastic (I can recommend the dumplings of all things in the restaurant). And the place has had a bit of a facelift of late. Everything is still new and shiny!
One final disclaimer. I can't vouch for the preferences of local patrons, so beware if you find yourself in a room full of Blues!