The Ettamogah Pub is a cartoon pub that was featured in the now defunct Australasian Post magazine.
The cartoonist Ken Maynard, loving empty spaces and having nothing around him, enjoyed an area just outside Albury at Table Top, named Ettamogah, thus christening the name of his now famous pub the "Ettamogah Pub".
The first Ettamogah Pub was built in Albury, New South Wales by businessman Lindsay Cooper and first opened in 1987. The aim was to create a themed family restaurant which would become a tourist attraction. The timber building featured sloping walls and a distinctive architectural style true to the original cartoon design.
Albury Ettamogah was used as the base to bring the Ettamogah brand into a themed restaurant and pub chain across Australia. Continual development attempted to turn the Albury Ettamogah Pub into a well known and well loved tourist destination - albeit with a chequered history.
In 2007, the hotel in Albury opened 17 new cabins for accommodation. The site also houses the Ken Maynard Museum and an artwork collection. In 2001, the owner Leigh O’Brien visited the establishment and noted how run-down it appeared. He announced plans for a $3 million redevelopment which included the addition of a caravan park and petrol station.
In 2017 the trouble-plagued Ettamogah Pub has again closed its doors following a dispute between the owner and operator.
The venue, which re-opened after a four-year hiatus in 2015, announced on Facebook there had been a dispute between owner Leigh O’Brien and the lessee.
It’s the latest in a long line of problems surrounding the unique venue and Mr O’Brien.
Mr O'Brien said the pub would be closed “until further notice".
Over the years, other Ettamogah pubs popped up all around Australia making a total of four: including the original in Albury, one at Kellyville Ridge near Sydney, another in Palmview on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and in Cunderdin, Western Australia.
The Kellyville Ridge Ettamogah Pub
The Ettamogah in Sydney was opened in 2003 and is located on the corner of Merriville road and corner Windsor road, Kellyville Ridge. However it is a copy of the original one at Albury, NSW.
In 2014 the Kellyville Ridge Ettamogah Pub was officially named as the best family-friendly hotel in NSW, having claimed the honour at the Australian Hotel Association annual awards. The popular venue beat more than 14 rivals for the award, scoring high in their family and children’s facilities, which include a rock climbing wall ‒ believed to be the only one in an Australian hotel.
The Etta, as it’s known, also took out the best pub TAB award, following its redevelopment and high turnover.
Although the Kellyville Ridge Ettamogah has been cleaned up and has a more modern, streamlined look, it still rocks the Australian vibe. The Ettamogah’s signature cartoonish sculptures still hang from the ceilings and sit on the roofs.
The Sunshine Coast Ettamogah Pub
The second Ettamogah Pub opened at the Aussie World theme park at Palmview on the Sunshine Coast in 1989. It was opened by then Premier Mike Ahern. Construction took nine months and it cost $4.5 million. A 1927 Chevrolet sits atop the roof of the building. This follows a flood in the cartoon after which the owners couldn't be bothered to remove the vehicle. To celebrate its 21st year of operations the pub began brewing and selling its own beer.
In 2014, following a dispute over intellectual property rights, Sunshine Coast Ettamogah pub has since changed its name, and removed any of the cartoon likenesses. With its splayed walls and saggy red tin roof, it still looks like the Ettamogah Pub but all signage bearing the name has been removed from the attraction.
Aussie World general manager David Thompson said the licence for the Ettamogah name had been "handed in" to pursue an opportunity to build a bigger and better brand.
The change of identity effectively means that businessman Leigh O'Brien, who holds the licence for the Ettamogah concept created by the late cartoonist Ken Maynard, may no longer have claim to any royalties from the facility.
The rights to royalties were the subject of a court decision in 2012 which found Mr O'Brien's company, Southern Cross Equity, was not entitled to more money after an extension and food barn were built at the rear of the pub although it was owed other royalties.
Mr Thompson said he could not comment on any further court proceedings regarding royalties and licensing for the pub.
"I'm not in a position to comment on that because I'm not aware of that situation," he said.
The old Palmview Ettamogah Pub is to called "The Pub at Aussie World"
The Cunderin Ettamogah Pub
The Ettamogah Pub in Cunderdin, Western Australia, was built in 2001.
Situated in the heart of the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, Cunderdin is a small country town 156km east of Perth. This venue has quickly become a tourist must-see, and visitors cannot help but notice the large Ettamogah theme hotel and pub when driving through the town.
Steeped in history, Cunderdin, like many small towns in the area, developed as a stop off town during the gold rush in the WA Goldfields. The Ettamogah Cunderdin typifies the “outback pub” concept, and operates under a traditional country pub atmosphere
Ettamogah Pub Trivia
- The word "ettamogah" is Aboriginal for "place of good drink"
- Ettamogah spelt backwards and said fast actually says ‘how going mate!’ Go on, give it a try!
- The Kellyvile Ridge Ettamogah houses the largest Play Gym in a venue, in the whole Southern Hemisphere!