Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Everyone should have an Aunty Maisie

I was lucky enough to have two Aunty Maisie's but sadly only one remains.  No, that's not right. Well, it is sad that Dad's sister Maisie is no longer here, she was the last of Dad's siblings, the last of the Wards from 'up the creek'.  I posted a long (very long) tribute to her and the family here in December, 2010.   I think it is more a cause for celebration that I, at my age, have not only a mother still alive but also her sister.  Before I returned home I had another trip to Laidley with my sister Tricia to visit our brother-in-law Bill and our Aunty Maisie.  Here she is.  Isn't she lovely? 

And she's such good company, still has that lively sense of humour, the same mannerisms as our grandmother.  We decided to all have lunch in town but in the end took a short drive 'up the creek' to the Mulgowie Pub.  If it were located anywhere else it could be a theme pub. It certainly has a character all of its own.

When we were children, the adult relative who had met us at the train station in Laidley to take us up the creek to the farm would invariably pull the car off to the right in front of the Mulgowie Pub.  In those days the driver was always a male and women and children were not permitted in the public bar. Was there a lounge bar?  I have no idea. The grandfather/uncle would disappear into the dark depths of the pub, then emerge soon after with fizzy drinks for us all, before returning to the bar.  I always wanted a sars, short for sarsaparila.   I never hear of it these days, I wonder if it is still available.  When I asked Mr Google I had quite a giggle. "Sarsaparila was made from roots of smilax vine, to which alcohol and flavoring was added.  It was the most widely distributed cure for syphilis in the 19th century.  Advertised in 1820s as helping with the perspiratory functions of the skin and imparting tone and vigor to debilitated constitutions."  I don't think the grandfather/uncle would have been tempted by something like that, our constitutions did not need any added tone and vigor.   I guess whatever the sars was made from, it wasn't that.  

Anyway, somehow we knew how long was an acceptable time to be left to our own devices.  (I should stress this is a country pub. There might be 4 or 5 vehicles parked outside and very little traffic going past, the occasional car, maybe a produce truck or a tractor.)  When we thought the time was up one of us would get out of the car and walk back and forth outside the pub door.  Most times that worked, sometimes it didn't.  Depended on how good the company at the bar was I guess.  When it failed another child would join the first and pace outside the door. My brothers tell stories of stopping in there when they were older and having long yarns with great-uncles and other distant relatives.  The rules about women in public bars didn't change in time for me to enjoy the same thing.

The pub is these days known as the Mulga.  That's an appropriate name for the hosts of the twice yearly Outback Bull Ride.  It's not everywhere you sit and eat your lunch with an unimpeded view of a rodeo ring.

I've returned to Mr Google to see if there is more info about the place but couldn't find much, most of it is about the railway line that once ran from Laidley to Mulgowie, a distance of 11kms (just over 6 miles).  I can remember the railway line but only once having seen a goods train on it, although it carried passengers at one time, too.  It operated from 1911 till 1955.  Apparantly it was never profitable, servicing an agricultural valley with a low population.

Then I remember the Mulgowie Yowie my grandmother used to talk about and sure enough, there's plenty about that.  The most recent article is date June, 2013 so it must still be a fascinating subject for some.  My Gran used to say it was strange that it only appeared to those who were on their way home from the pub.


  1. Hello Pauline,

    What a interesting read, can see the family resemblance between your photo and your Aunty Maisie.

    Have a good day.

  2. This looks my sort of pub.
    I like scruffy places with character.

  3. A lovely and a fascinating post. I'd love to visit the pub! You can still get sarsaparilla in the UK.


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