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Here lies a local culture
September 18, 2009 2:07 AM   Subscribe

It was one of the biggest riots in the nation's history. An estimated four thousand sailors and locals -- an unlikely alliance of the young and unemployed, the gay community, the rockers -- fought with police, threw rocks and burned cars.

Echoes of Stonewall, or of similar riots in the UK and USA? It was immortalised in song, and the tale grew in the telling. The media coverage made international news ... maybe the free beer was a mistake?

Thirty years later: a toast to the Star Hotel.
posted by AmbroseChapel (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
... maybe the free beer was a mistake?

Free beer is well worth the risk of a riot, in my opinion.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:28 AM on September 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post is incomplete without pictures. And free beer is never a mistake. (Dry for over 20 years).
posted by adamvasco at 3:32 AM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post is incomplete without pictures.

And that slideshow is incomplete without a soundtrack listing. Anyone knows what's playing during the last 40 seconds (the riot part)?
posted by effbot at 3:40 AM on September 18, 2009


The great Australian rock band Cold Chisel wrote one of their best songs to commemorate it
posted by milkwood at 4:41 AM on September 18, 2009


That sounds like a great place to go for a drink. More bars in the world could benefit from its example. It reminds me of some of my favorite dive bars, many of which are really facing similar problems with regulation. Something similar to this (and Stonewall, probably more aptly) seems to be brewing in several parts of the US with the recent police raids of gay bars in Ft. Worth, TX, and Atlanta, GA.

I will say, those articles were incredibly frustratingly slow to get to the point of explaining what likely caused the riot, or even why the Hotel was being shut down. It took reading more than halfway through the 3rd link before I realized that it was shut down due to licensing problems.
posted by This Guy at 4:44 AM on September 18, 2009


...the front bar "served sailors from around the world, RAAF men, petty criminals and pimps, parachutists and 'short back and sides' misfits who didn't fit into sophisticated taverns". The middle bar catered for local gays entertained by drag acts, such as that staged by the notorious "Stella the Fella". And the back bar was where the young people went, where the bands played for free almost every night of the week.

Far from being at each others' throats, the different groups rubbed along peacefully. "There was a real sense of community, of belonging to the place," recalls Mark Tinson, of the Heroes, the band playing the last set at the Star on that memorable night.

posted by mediareport at 4:55 AM on September 18, 2009


Is the Eureka Stockade a riot or a rebellion ? And the Cronulla riot ?
posted by elcapitano at 5:03 AM on September 18, 2009


You gotta expect a riot if you bugger around with a local drinking hole.
posted by gomichild at 5:50 AM on September 18, 2009


At the beginning of the slideshow (1:07-1:06 or so), there's a front-on photo of the Star Hotel.

What's the "Catholic Emporium" at the lower left?
posted by elmer benson at 6:14 AM on September 18, 2009


Far from being at each others' throats, the different groups rubbed along peacefully. "There was a real sense of community, of belonging to the place," recalls Mark Tinson, of the Heroes, the band playing the last set at the Star on that memorable night.

Newcastle isn't a particularly lively town for the young now. Back then, it must have been terrible. I remember seeing a Star Hotel patron, interviewed many years afterwards, talking about the alienation of the youth, how they felt betrayed and apart from their community and country. Then their favourite pub is taken away from them. This doesn't excuse the riot, but it did light the fuse.
posted by outlier at 8:53 AM on September 18, 2009


those articles were incredibly frustratingly slow to get to the point [...] It took reading more than halfway through the 3rd link before I realized that it was shut down due to licensing problems

Well that's a bit disingenuous, I think the point is, the local authorities control licences, and if the city council and the cops want your pub closed down, then you have licensing problems.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:33 PM on September 18, 2009


What's the "Catholic Emporium" at the lower left?

Exactly what it appears to be, I'd say -- a shop selling candles, statuettes, books etc. related to the Catholic faith. In fact it appears to be still operating, though not at the same address. Strange thing to share a building with a rowdy pub though. Are we working on some kind of conspiracy theory at this point? The main brewery of the pub's owners was popularly referred to as "the Vatican"...
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:29 PM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess that's what happens when you get between Australians and their beer. Damn shame, it sounds like it was a special place.
posted by Skygazer at 8:39 PM on September 18, 2009


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