Broad Arrow Tavern - a must experience outback pub
The still operating Broad Arrow Tavern is one of those unique outback pubs in Australia that should be on everyone’s Australian bucket list. It is the last standing building in a once-thriving gold mining town of Broad Arrow.
Well known for its “Broady Burger”, they knocked one up just so that I could take a photo of it for this article. It is made up of a beef pattie sourced from a local butcher, bacon, eggs, lettuce, onion, tomato, cheese, salt and pepper all between a bread roll, also made locally in Kalgoorlie. An Aussie saying is “wrap your laughing gear (mouth) around that!” What a delicious looking burger, it makes your mouth water just looking at it. A great feed for $14 (2020 price). Also on offer is their Steak Broady Burger, which is similar, without the bacon and egg, and with a steak instead of the pattie. Again, the steak is sourced from a local butcher. These are traditional Aussie pub fares. Also available are hot chips, seafood baskets and fish and chips.
I had heard great stories about the Broady, and felt it was one of those must see places on my journey around Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. What surprised me was the amazing graffiti that covered almost every wall. It had migrated to the roof, bar, even furniture. Currently there are signs asking guests not to write on the walls, as the owners are wanting to preserve the older signatures and names. People come back and visit years after their first drop in and are amazed to see their names still calling out from the walls. The oldest name found at the moment is from 1973, in the gents loo (toilet). Customers could always write on the walls for free, others made a $5 donation to the Royal Flying Doctors Service for the privilege.
The beer here is refreshingly icy cold and thirst quenching, just how you want it. However, it is the fantastic relaxing atmosphere and friendly staff that would make me want to stop each time I pass by. Just after I got out of the car, regular patrons that were sitting outside called out a welcoming “G’day, howyagoin?” (translation: Hello, how are you doing?) The standard Aussie reply is "Yeah, awright mate, no worries." (translation: I am just perfect friend, and do not have a care in world right now!)
The pub has changed hands recently and the new owners, Tammy Fisher and family, have some great plans to add to the memorabilia. Maybe the floors need some names they said. Continuity of tradition is important here. Chatting with Christopher Camps, Tammy’s son-in-law , he said that their goal is to make a visit all about the customer. They aim to give great service and a great experience, while keeping the history alive.
One visitor who has never left the pub is Hector Pelham. He died in 1997. Up above the bar is a box containing his ashes and inscribed that he was the Mayor of Broad Arrow. On top of the box is a can of Hector’s favourite tipple – an Emu Export beer.
The Broady can host 100 people, and has an enclosed beer garden, a dining room, a pool room with two tables (pool as in billiards). They are family orientated and also sell ice-creams and machine coffee. Looking towards the future, they want to host events here and also plan to offer breakfasts.
A vast array of people stop into the pub - prospectors looking for gold, travelers, mine workers, tourists and locals from around the area out for a weekend drive, as well as travel writers who think this is a great place to write a story about. It was even featured in a 1971 film – the Nickel Queen.
Accommodation is available at the pub, but ring ahead (08 9024 2058) as the rooms are usually booked by workers at the local mines. They welcome vans, swags and tents, and for a small fee provide electricity and showers.
Broad Arrow is situated in the desert, 630 kms east of Perth, and only 38kms north of Kalgoorlie, along the Goldfields Highway. Originally the town was known by the local aboriginal name Kurawah. Established in 1893, in 1897 the name was changed to Broad Arrow after the gold prospector O’Mara told his nephew that he was going to mark his travel from Kalgoorlie with broad arrows, so that the nephew could follow him. In the early 1900s there were about 2,400 residents of the town. When the gold rush was over, people left the town, and now Broad Arrow is just another ghost town in the outback.
It is site no. 24 if you are following the Gold Quest Discovery Trail.
Standing there with the red dirt beneath your feet and the bluest skies above you, as you gaze out at the brush as far as you can see, it is difficult to imagine the town in its busy times when it had 8 pubs, 2 breweries, a stock exchange, a hospital, blacksmiths, a soft drink factory and cordial factory, and even a dramatic society.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Broad Arrow Tavern, and hope that you also get to enjoy it one day too.