You can see it well before you get to it. From the main road, the red roof stands out – with huge white letters spelling out ‘Rudd’s Pub’.
No, not that Rudd. The former Prime Minister has nothing to do with this great little pub in the Darling Downs village of Nobby, about 35 kilometres from Toowoomba and only two hours’ drive from Brisbane.
So who is Rudd? For those old enough to remember (or who learned it at school), this was the place where Dad and Dave, two of Australia’s most famous fictional characters, were created.
Writer Steele Rudd (real name Arthur Hoey Davis) called Nobby home and apparently propped himself up in a corner of the pub to write his stories. On Our Selection, published in 1899, became a best-seller and part of Australian folklore. Over the years the stories of Dad and Dave Mabel have been adapted for radio, stage and screen.
The pub is now a bit of a shrine. The outside walls are painted with colourful scenes from the books – though a trifle faded now – and it houses a vast collection of Steele Rudd memorabilia. The walls are crammed with photographs, posters, newspaper clippings and paintings, and of course, the books. There are also old farming implements and tools, bottles, kitchen utensils, and many other interesting items. Some people say it’s like eating in a museum.
The pub, built in 1893, became Rudd’s only as recently as 1988, and today plays host to thousands of visitors a year who want to see where the stories all began. At the back of the pub, past toilets marked ‘Dave’ and ‘Mabel’, is an open section with a tin roof and a pot-belly stove, leading to a garden bar.
You can also dine in the Heritage Lounge, where Steele Rudd sat writing his stories, now known for its steaks such as ‘Dad’s Mighty Mixed Grill’, ‘Dave’s Terrific T-Bone’ or the popular ‘Reef and Beef’, which come out of ‘Mabel’s Kitchen’.
Three rooms are available in the pub for overnight guests, complete with quirky ensuites that feature a tin bucket for the basin with a beer tap (pouring water) above it, and a small rainwater tank on the wall providing the shower. The family room has a queen-size bed and bunks, and an old-fashioned claw foot bath to soak in. There is also free camping for motor homes and caravans across the road from the pub.
You can check out more of Lee’s pub reviews in the book Great Australian Pubs (Explore Australia).