We are but simple folk here at Perth is OK!: all we need is an ice cold beer and an old-school pub and we’re pretty darn happy. With that in mind, we’re taking a look back at some of WA’s iconic pubs over the years – some of which are no longer with us, and others that remain favourite drinking holes.
Take a step back in time with these amazing photos via the State Library of WA – we’ll kick things off with the photo that inspired us in the first place: the Ocean Beach Hotel, photographed on its opening day on 1908:
If you thought Cott looked different there, just wait ’til you see this photo of the site that is now home to the Albion Hotel. The pictured inn was built in the 1850s, and renamed the “Albion Hotel” around the same time the photo was taken, which is estimated at approximately 1885.
Jump ahead to 1972 and the hotel looks rather different – and even more so in 1989 with a bright, white paint job and very ’80s logo:
Even when we go back over a century, there are plenty of recognisable icons amongst the bunch – even if their surroundings look markedly different! Just check out this 1907 photo of Marine Parade, with Freo’s iconic Esplanade Hotel and its gleaming dome.
Or take a look at this 1933 photo of the Orient Hotel, now known as Bar Orient – she may be missing a section of balconies and a bit of rooftop balustrade, but she looks almost identical otherwise!
Just down the road, the Beaconsfield Hotel is looking pretty familiar – although its awning is a little simpler these days. Notice the missing roof panels? This 1923 photo, taken by prolific photographer Abraham ‘Izzy’ Orloff, is part of a series recording storm damage of buildings around Fremantle.
One of the bigger surprises – that even surprised some of our office’s Freo locals! – is the Oddfellows Hotel. While its 1950 iteration may look unfamiliar, the name will certainly ring a bell: it’s now known as the Norfolk Hotel, who named their dedicated cocktail bar “The Odd Fellow” in homage.
The inside of these pubs had plenty of charm, too – like this convivial scene in the Commercial Hotel (now the Sundancer Backpackers on Freo’s High Street), or the nautical-themed saloon bar of Hotel Australia (still standing on the corner of Beach and Parry Streets)!
Now the home to Maylands’ Dôme outpost (next door to the current Peninsula Tavern), the Hotel Peninsula was looking grand as ever on its opening day in 1906. Add in a Dôme awning and it’s practically identical!
And of course, how could you possibly not recognise the Great Western Hotel – pictured here in 1897, approximately 1920, and then in 1981 – shortly before it was renamed the Brass Monkey in the late ’80s.
Just across the railway line and having undergone a massive restoration that was completed in 2019, The Royal Hotel is looking as gorgeous as ever, perched proudly on the corner of William and Wellington Streets.
Another example of stunning restoration work, while it isn’t technically a pub… You can’t help but admire the opulent, Gold Rush-era Baroque architecture of His Majesty’s Theatre, recently reunited with its balconies. Photographed in 1904 just before completion, the original theatre also boasted a rather lavish 65-room hotel with billiard rooms, parlours and six bars.
Similarly, the State Buildings are as opulent as ever – looking even more glorious now than they did photographed here in the ’20s.
Ever enjoyed an opulent steak dinner in the CBD? You’ll probably recognise the Palace Hotel – situated on the corner of St Georges Terrace, it’s where you’ll now find The Meat & Wine Co., with luxe global architecture firm Woods Bagot located next door.
There are some lost gems along the way, too – like the beautiful, ornate Federal Hotel. The hotel, originally constructed in 1897 as Stein’s Coffee Palace, was located on the corner of Douro (now Wellington) and George Streets. Photographed here in approximately 1905 and then 1967, it was demolished in 1972 to make way for the Mitchell Freeway.
Or, the grand Esplanade Hotel – pictured here in approximately 1968 just a few years before its controversial demolition to make way for a modern skyscraper… Although it took almost a decade for the empty site to become home to the 20-storey BCG Centre.