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Taverns to Temperance: pubs of Bendigo

25 August – 3 December 2017

In a place where drinking beer was once seen as safer than drinking water, pubs were prolific as centres for social and commercial life in Bendigo. From the sly grog tents of the goldfields, to home style ‘taverns’ and the flourishing brewing industry, Taverns to Temperance: pubs of Bendigo illuminates the history of pubs and drinking culture in Bendigo.  

Women were instrumental in the development of the pub industry although women were not permitted to drink in hotels. A large proportion of early publicans’ licences were held by women who operated pubs as a means to provide for their family. Conversely women also played a large part in resistance against the growing industry surrounding pubs and drinking. The groundswell of temperance societies and later the ‘6’oclock lock out’ all sought to disparage the consumption of alcohol and improve family life for women and children.

Through the cloudy glass of a well-worn goldfields ‘nobbler’, this exhibition views pubs as places of entertainment, accommodation, social and political activism and even autopsies and inquests.


Image: Backyard Drinking, Forest Street, Bendigo, c 1890, image courtesy of Museums Victoria and Rodney Aikman
Image: Theodore King, The First Parliamentary Election, Bendigo 1855, oil on canvas. Collection of Bendigo Art Gallery. Gift of Mr JS Dethridge, 1894.