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 Australia - Sly Grog 

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This page is dedicated

to the past and present

workers in the Australian

Liquour and Hospitality Trades


 The term 'sly grog'  in the Victorian Gold Rush  came about the 1850's.  

 Victorian gold fields were declared 'dry' by Government issue. 

 Murder, brawling and all manner of human degradation 

 had been attributed to the sale of alcoholic beverages. 

 A raw Rum concoction was the drink of the day. 

 As a consequence of this Law the sly grog shops flourished everywhere. 

 A sly grog 'shop' could be anything from a single tent shanty pitched out the back 

 or simply an 'under the counter service' in a respectable establishment. 


Sly Groggers ranged from the 'Missus' making ends meet to ruthless cut-throats aiming to reap fortunes from the less fortunate. However it was not uncommon for Sly Grog  establishments to evolve into respectable businesses such as Hotels and Country Resorts.  In most cultures the making of wine, beer, whiskey or other liquors is a time  honoured family tradition. It is the unauthorised sale or trade that makes the alcohol drinks  'sly'. 


 Today's Groggers are made up from a similar bunch of characters with the added element of modern technology. Web Sites, email and mobile phones all make for the swift sale of most any items. 

  And of course today's groggers have mobility...  

 We have other more modern terms like "off the back of a truck", "hot" or "nicked" which  relate more to the sale or purchase of stolen property, but is sometimes associated with  grog. 

Nowadays 'Sly Grog' most often refers to the unlicensed sale or purchase of Liquor. Under-age sales and other socially unforgiven practices still abound but need to be accredited with other terms of reference!


    Links to

Sly Grog    


 Melbourne City 'Digs' 

Ellen Kelly

   Aussie Diggers  

 Port Phillips 1840 Police Intelligence 

 The Miners Right 

 19th Century Publican Index 

Sly Grog Shanty Painting by S.T. Gills-Victoria State Library


 Gold-SBS Story 

 Wine History in Australia 


 Up until the early 1960's Australian Pubs had a 6 pm closing time. 

 Sly Grog in those days also referred to the availability of an 'after hours service'

 of alcohol in a Licensed Establishment. 


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Sly Grog Club Hangout

@slygrogclub MAP for Twitter

 Victorian Bottle Resource Site


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Queensland Community Arts Network Australian cultural websites
Search courtesy of
the Culture and Recreation Portal

"Warning Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 it is an offence

  • To supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years (Penalty exceeds $6,000)
  • For a person under the age of 18 to purchase or recieved liquor. (Penalty exceeds $500)"

 You Must Be 18 + To Access This Site And Services 

 Providing Liquor To Minors Is An illegal Offence 

 Content Rated M (Mature)

  In the Past  

   Drinking in Australian Hotels  

 Most early Australian Pubs had at least two 

 areas for the serving  

 and consuming alcohol  beverages, men only 

 and mixed drinking/eating.  

 The 'Saloon Bar' and 'Public Bar' 

 (where Ladies were not welcome if    not forbidden!) 

 A Bar was made up with a rough wooden

 counter, a few stools or chairs,  maybe a foot

railing, spittoons and most often tiling shoulder

height on the walls.  

This was a rough and rowdy place where

most Ladies possibly wouldn't enjoy themselves

in any case! 

 Meals served here were famous for their

simplicity and called 'Counter Meals'. These were

great meals of ample portions at a small cost.   


 The 'Lounge Bar' was an area available to mixed

couples. Here you would also have fancy meals

served, dances and live entertainment. There

was more attention to decoration

and comfortable seating here. In the larger

Hotels a proper Dance Floor might be installed,

especially in Resort Hotels where people came to relax and enjoy themselves.  There were often

grand fireplaces too.

 Some Pubs provided a 'Ladies Bar' or 'Waiting

Room'- where Gentlemen were not

welcome. Gentlemen were not usually allowed

entry unless accompanied by a Lady. These

rooms were most often open in the

afternoons. They were quiet rooms of simple

decor where a Lady could comfortably sit and

enjoy a peaceful drink. If a Gentleman present

became obnoxious and offensive he could be

shown the door and possibly barred for a period

of time. In these days the use of public profanity

was illegal and an offense where a person could

be 'Charged' by a Law Officer.


 'Bottle Shops' were often just a hallway side 

 window in the Hotel itself through to the Saloon 

 Bar from which you could purchase alcohol by 

 the bottle. Some Pubs had a small entrance at    

 the side of the Saloon Bar which held a counter 

 and a couple of shelves of liquor at best. 

 There would be no attendant so you would

 have to gain the Bartender's attention by ringing a bell or calling out. The till would most often be in the Saloon Bar as well, making your purchase a clumsy and time consuming effort.  





 It is important to remember that the

minimum legal drinking age prior to 1880 was 12


 If you have a great Story to tell don't be shy,

send it in! 

 Aussie Pub's Motto ~ 'Warm Smiles and Cold

Beer - Cheers!  

Historic Site

Artists Retreat @ famous Gold Fields of Hill End, N.S.W.

Cooke's Cottage Bed & Breakfast

Click on Image for link o website for contact! 

Community for Fine Artists and Fine Art Galleries

Pen & Ink

Australian ART

We've got some 'sly grog' stories of our own, but none we'd publish ere.

Artwork by Joan Kamaru

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