There are a growing number of small rural pubs and clubs that are allowing caravanners and even campers to set up in their back yards. In most cases this is free if you just spend a few dollars in the pub. Many of these small pubs are doing it tough and really rely on us travellers, to stop and spend a few dollars in order to survive.
Our first pub camping experience was back in 2014 when we stayed at the iconic Nindigully Pub in outback Queensland. But most recently we stayed at the Deepwater Inn at Deepwater in northern NSW. And what a top spot it turned out to be!
Deepwater is a small rural village about half way between Glen Innes and Tenterfield on the New England Highway.
We had stopped in Glen Innes for a look around but it was cool and drizzling rain so we decided to head straight to Deepwater and set up there for the night. As they advertise having free Wi-Fi, we thought we could catch up on some blogging and have a drink or two as well.
Deepwater Inn dates back to somewhere around 1860 and was originally built as a Cobb and Co Coach stop. In September, 2011 a fire tore through the Inn, destroying almost the entire building except for it’s thick granite and sandstone walls.
The building then stood in it’s sad state of disrepair for two years. The owners at the time of the fire were unable to rebuild so it was placed on the market.
In 2013 Lynn and Andrew Osbourne, two Sydney-siders, who had no experience at running a pub decided to buy it. With an order from Council to re-build because of the historical significance of the building, it seemed an impossible task. But bit by bit they have restored the Deepwater Inn to it’s former glory.
THE DEEPWATER INN TODAY
Fast forward to 2018 and the Deepwater Inn is a network of rooms, with the main bar area as it’s centre piece. High ceilings and heavy timber beams dominate the room. Much of the materials used in the re-building process are recycled, like the stained glass window that over looks the main bar and the solid timber slab table tops.
Owners Andrew and Lynn have learnt everything to do with running a pub over the years, including how to cook. They have a fantastic menu and the burgers and fries we had for dinner were awesome. Everything including the meat patties and the buns are made from scratch. They were absolutely delicious and we had a job to eat it all!
After dinner, we stayed and had a couple more drinks and chatted with Lynn and some of the other patrons. Lynn told us the story of how they came to own the Deepwater Inn. The have done remarkably well considering, as laughingly says, that they are both non-drinking, non-smoking vegetarians!
Lynn is also an awesome artist and several of her artworks hang in the bar. Perhaps the most well known face is that of former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce. Lynn kept a very straight face as she told us that he had slept with her! She then revealed that he had dozed off whilst sitting for the portrait she painted. That gave us all a good laugh!
Deepwater Inn’s biggest attraction for us was the fact that we could ‘free camp’ at the rear of the hotel. The camp ground is a huge grass area. Make sure you close the gate on your way in out. Oh and don’t complain about the horse poo in the paddock – you’re in the country now!
Of course the opportunity to free camp is on the proviso that you at least buy a drink or two at the pub. We were more than happy to do this as we spent a couple of hours catching up on some work in the bar and utilising the free Wi-Fi.
We also decided to make use of the showers which were $5.00 per person but we didn’t mind as they were a bit more roomy than the van!
If you don’t have a van and are travelling through, there are 12 pub style rooms out the back as well. A double room with shared facilities starts at $40.00.
Deepwater Inn also has it’s own coffee shop which is open 24 hours a day. Phone ahead or ring the bell and you can get coffee and a meal no matter what time of the day or night it is.
COUNTRY PUB CAMPING
A final word about country pub camping. We loved our stay at Deepwater and were happy to spend a bit of extra money there. In the long run it helps out the whole community, not just the owners of the pub. Everyone that was camped there that night came in and had a least one round of drinks. There were also a couple staying in a room who also had meals and drinks.
If you would like to find more pubs that allow free camping head to the Country Pub Camping website or join the Country Pub Camping Facebook group. It really is a great way to support those in our smaller communities.
Make sure you stop at a Country Pub next time you travel.
Happy and safe travels……Mel and Brenden