Until a block of serviced apartments opened just behind the Austral Hotel, the pub was a thriving live music hub - a competitor to the neighbouring Exeter Hotel with a slightly older crowd. Stopped in its tracks by urbanisation, the pub had to shift focus, and after a large renovation found its footing with food.
The food at the Austral now is fantastic – it deserves its self-declared title of ‘eating and drinking house’. It’s possible here to get a felafel burger with a mint yoghurt sauce ($16), which is absolutely breathtaking. What was once the live music beer garden has been completely enclosed into the unfortunately spelled ‘bunka’, which can also be reserved as a function space.
The pub is split into sections. The tables out the front are almost always packed with the sort who likes to smoke and the sort who likes to recline the afternoons away while chatting up passers-by. The interior is split horizontally into the front bar (right), with booths and speakers and all sorts of mischief – as well as, occasionally, some kind of covers duo in the front window, terrorising the street with their nostalgia. The front room (left) is the dining room, with a pool table and a few nice tables and chairs for first-date appeal. The ‘bunka’ is, as the beer garden was, out the back, encased in metal and potentially able to withstand a zombie attack.
The Austral’s beer list – strong on bottled beer – is comprehensive, and there’s usually some nice cider on tap at competitive prices. It’s hard not to find the Austral on your journeys around Adelaide. Its centrality and visibility make it a well trodden yet always interesting destination.