The Bob Hawke Beer and Leisure Centre: Inside Anthony Albanese’s new watering hole

A pool room full of Bob Hawke memorabilia, deep-fried Viennetta cake, and the tick of approval from Anthony Albanese – a new 1980s-inspired pub has officially opened its doors in Sydney.

The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre is the latest addition to the streets of Marrickville in the city’s inner west, and has already been drawing crowds since it opened at the end of March.

There’s plenty to do inside with a brewery taking up the top floor, a pool room dedicated to the late Prime Minister downstairs, its own Chinese-Australian restaurant The Lucky Prawn, and some of the best of Hawke’s beers on tap.

The 2,100 square metre venue seats 300 and is the first bricks-and-mortar brewery from the Hawke’s Brewing Company, co-founded by beer-skolling Hawke and a pair of Aussie mates Nathan Lennon and David Gibson.

Last weekend Mr Albanese stopped by for a drink, leaving his own mark on the The RJLH Pool Room with a photo of his younger self taken in 1986, clad in a denim jacket standing beside a beaming Hawke.

Anthony Albanese has given his tick of approval to Marrickville’s Bob Hawke Beer and Leisure Centre

The venue opened at the end of March and has already drawn in crowds

The venue opened at the end of March and has already drawn in crowds

Inside is a pool room filled with Bob Hawke memorabilia

Inside is a pool room filled with Bob Hawke memorabilia 

Hawke is seen drinking the first sip of a Hawke's beer in 2017 before his death in 2019

Hawke is seen drinking the first sip of a Hawke’s beer in 2017 before his death in 2019 

The museum-style pool room is based on the very same one Hawke had in his own house in Northbridge. 

It’s filled with photographs of the beloved PM, anecdotes about his life and time in office and even has his old golf clubs and a treasured cigar humidifier.

The charm of the venue is that in its entirety it’s a trip back in time.

Fitted out with wooden panels, decorative carpet and giant beer tanks, diners are immediately sent back to the 80s.

The top level hosts the brewery and a mezzanine level dubbed Sanctuary Cove, while downstairs is home to The Lucky Prawn – a mix of an RSL and a classic Chinese-Australian bistro.

The venue is a trip back in time to the 80s with a Chinese-Australian restaurant titled The Lucky Prawn

The venue is a trip back in time to the 80s with a Chinese-Australian restaurant titled The Lucky Prawn

Mr Albanese is seen with a photograph of him and Hawke taken in 1986

Mr Albanese is seen with a photograph of him and Hawke taken in 1986

Pictured is some of the memorabilia inside the venue in Sydney's inner west

Pictured is some of the memorabilia inside the venue in Sydney’s inner west

The walls are full of photos of the late PM who was adored by Australians across the country

The walls are full of photos of the late PM who was adored by Australians across the country

Sizzling beef, sweet and sour pork, prawn toast and even ice-cream drizzled in Ice Magic are just some of the stars of the menu which was designed to be shared and served on a lazy Susan.

The retro bistro will strike a chord in many Aussies who grew up visiting Chinese-Australian style diners in regional towns, complete with paper menus and a decorative red carpet.

INSIDE THE LUCKY PRAWN 

The Lucky Prawn is a main attraction at the Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre and I was keen to indulge in the traditional Chinese-Australian cuisine

The pub was filled with aromas of sweet and sour pork, sang choi bow and dumplings – while a waitress carrying a deep-friend Vienetta cake turned the heads of nearby diners

Sifting through the menu we decided on prawn dumplings, vegetable spring rolls, stir-fried noodles and steamed greens – and of course a Hawke’s beer

Other options included prawn toast, crab omelette, salt and pepper calamari and wontons

The service was quick and cheerful, and the meals generous in size and taste sending me home with two boxes of takeaway noodles

In another addition sure to win over the dog-loving locals, furry friends are also allowed in the outdoor seating area.

Inside at the bar are ten taps pouring some beloved Hawke’s lager as well as a rotation of ‘one-hit wonder’ releases. Patrons can also sip on a wine or kick a few cocktails back.

In a modern touch, the venue also has a 100kW rooftop solar farm. 

Co-founder Mr Lennon said the ‘only sore point’ of their latest venture was that Hawke himself wasn’t around to see it.

‘It’s a huge shame,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We had lunch with Bob’s wife and daughter the other day and it’s a very emotional experience whenever they come in to see all the photographs of him – it’s bittersweet.’

Mr Lennon and Mr Gibson started the business back in 2017 with Hawke.

‘I don’t think he (Hawke) ever imagined that we were going to do what we have,’ Mr Lennon said, adding the pub gets regular visits from Hawke’s wife and family.

‘For us having spent enough time with Bob, we feel he would have loved it.’

But Hawke isn’t the only prime minister the pair have impressed with Mr Albanese stopping by a few times while the venue was being renovated, and once over the weekend.

‘Obviously he’s the prime minister but in many ways he’s very connected to Marrickville and to being an authentic local in the area,’ the co-founder said.

Crowds both young and age have stopped by the brewery since it opened at the end of March

Crowds both young and age have stopped by the brewery since it opened at the end of March

A large photograph of a budgie-smuggler wearing Hawke is seen at the entrance

A large photograph of a budgie-smuggler wearing Hawke is seen at the entrance

The bar offers ten of Hawke's beers on tap

The bar offers ten of Hawke’s beers on tap

Hawke's wife Blanche D'Alpuget is seen admiring photos of her late husband in the pool room

Hawke’s wife Blanche D’Alpuget is seen admiring photos of her late husband in the pool room 

‘It’s a nice marriage of ”wow the prime minister’s visiting”, but it’s also like ”oh it’s Albo from around the corner”.’

Mr Lennon said the idea was born from his and Mr Gibson’s experience on working overseas and missing Australia.

The pair wanted to create a place that was undeniably Aussie and ‘filled with stuff only an Australian would get’.

‘The food is incredibly nostalgic with the Chinese-Australian bistro you’ll find attached to a bowlo in the middle of nowhere,’ Mr Lennon said.

‘We always liked idea of pool room to be like a museum for Bob. You can play pool have a few beers, and turn around and read a bit about him.

‘If you walk out of here learning something about Bob, that keeps his legacy alive.’

The prime minister took a wander through the pool room

The prime minister took a wander through the pool room

Some tables have lazy Susans on them in a traditional touch

Some tables have lazy Susans on them in a traditional touch

The photograph left by the PM shows him standing next to the then prime minister Hawke

The photograph left by the PM shows him standing next to the then prime minister Hawke

Stir fry noodles and steamed greens are just some of the many items available on the menu

Stir fry noodles and steamed greens are just some of the many items available on the menu

Stir fry noodles and steamed greens are just some of the many items available on the menu

The venue also hosts its own souvenirs shop

The venue also hosts its own souvenirs shop

Hawke died at the age of 89 in May, 2019, leading to an enormous outpouring of grief from many Australians.

The true blue Aussie larrikin was seen as the ‘man of the people’, and famously was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records in 1954 for chugging 2.5 pints of beer in just 11 seconds.

Mr Hawke was the longest-serving Labor Prime Minister and had a string of achievements during his eight years in office.

He introduced Medicare in 1984, which became the country’s first affordable and universal health insurance.

Hawke was known as the 'man of the people' during his time in office

Hawke was known as the ‘man of the people’ during his time in office

Pictured is a replica of Hawke's famous Australia jacket

Pictured is a replica of Hawke’s famous Australia jacket

Hawke has been immortalised by the Marrickville brewery

Hawke has been immortalised by the Marrickville brewery

That same year he outlawed gender discrimination in the workplace by introducing the Sex Discrimination Act.

Mr Hawke also took steps to reconcile with Indigenous Australians through a treaty and by replacing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

But in the eyes of most he was simply adored for his down-to-earth Aussie spirit which the team at Hawke’s Brewing Co. are hoping they can replicate.

THE LIFE OF BOB HAWKE 

Early life

Oxford University 

Unions 

MP to Prime Minister

Achievements as Prime Minister

Downfall as Prime Minister

Personal life 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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