SNAPSHOT: "Tarz" Norton (singlet drinking a beer) and Syd Anderson (resting on the bar) at the Airlie Beach Hotel in 1982 with Jack the dog resting on the floor. RENNIE ELLIS

A great history of last drinks

AIRLIE Beach has always been a colourful town and it isn't any secret people like to let their hair down and relax while here.

But can you imagine a time when people wore no shirts, and they were smoking in a public bar! These were times when a man could stand shirtless at the bar, drag on a smoke and knock back rums all day, while the dog lounged on the floor, as this amazing 1982 photo by Rennie Ellis shows.

One Airlie Beach local can tell you exactly what it was like, as he is pictured in the photo, where time quite literally stands still in a microcosm of Australian life.

Syd Anderson was 30 and working as a fitter and turner and "vaguely remembers" the photo being taken, but he certainly remembers the laughs and fun times that went on in that bar.

"The pub was the centre of the community," says the 66-year-old, who still lives in Airlie Beach.

"We were hired, fired and paid in the pub in those days - we would get paid and we would sit there and drink it too, so you would have to go to work the next day!

"It was a happy place where drinkers went about their business without rules and regulations. There was rarely any trouble and if there was an occasional scuffle, we normally managed to work it out. It was the social centre of the town - everyone congregated at the pub."


"Tarz" Norton and Syd Anderson recreated their iconic photo at last week's The Pub grand opening. Contributed

One of Syd's drinking mates, "Tarz" Norton, also remembers those days well.

Tarz, who now lives in NSW, is the one holding a rum and fronting up to the shirtless guy in the photo.

At the time he was driving sugar cane trucks and working as a brickie's labourer.

"Those days were so much fun," said Tarz, now 64.

"Airlie Beach was a fabulous place, very laid-back, and you'd meet all sorts of people from all over the world, who'd come to see the reef. We used to have some great sessions at the pub in those days."

Tarz and Syd were the guests of honour at last week's Grand Opening Party at The Pub, where they were photographed standing next to the 1982 photo of themselves in the original Airlie Beach Hotel front bar, still of course enjoying a beer.

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