Early Canberra


Sale of Liquor returns to Canberra

Posted on September 27, 2010 at 2:02 AM

In the ODDS & ENDS SECTION a new article - return of sale of alchol to the FCT.

In 1910 the sale of liquor in what was to become the Federal Capital Territory was banned.  For the next 18 years the hotels at Queanbeyan benefited from this decision.  With the arrival of the public servants and others transferred to Canberra to enable the Federal Parliament to sit in the nation's capital, the move was made to reverse this ban.  The result was a vote given to the people of the FCT in late 1928 with a resounding YES vote for the return.


Hotels Acton, Canberra and Wellington were granted licenses to sell liquor and three cafes were established in the shopping centres at Kingston, Civic Centre and Manuka.  No bars were allowed, instead customers sat at tables where they were served with alcohol.  A nip of Australian whisky cost 6d in a cafe and 9d at the Hotel Canberra. 


No barmaids were permitted either, which today is unthinkable - but not then.  The ban was lifted on 23 December 1928.  The cafes made a profit, but the Hotels did not.  The government did not do well in their business of running the hotels and it was only the cafes that did well. Or rather the Kingston and Civic Cafes - Manuka didn't and was closed.  By 1935 when the decision was made to allow two new hotels - the Kingston and Civic to be built and run by private enterprise the cafes had to go.


The hotels were more than just pubs and places where people could stay - they were used as a venue for many of the local balls.


Hours of sale of alcohol were between 9am  and 6pm and perhaps this was the beginning locally of the six o'clock swill which lasted until the 1960s when the hours of opening went to 10pm. - Sundays, and special days such as Christmas, Good Friday, and the morning of Anzac Day remained officially dry - although if one had a car and travelled 25 miles as a bona fide traveller could obtain a drink.



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