Buying Alcohol in Australia: The Bottle Shop

A couple of weeks ago I admitted to my love of beer in my post A Celebration of Beer in Brisbane: Brewsvegas. It struck me at the time that I’ve never really fully explained about buying alcohol in Australia. So today allow me to introduce you to ‘The Bottle Shop’.

The Bottle Shop

Dan MurphysIt also wasn’t that long ago that I went to Costco for the first time here in Australia to compare some costs; you can see how that worked out in my post called Costco versus Coles in Australia.

Those of you who read that post and took a close look at my Costco shopping trolley would have noticed it was completely bereft of beer. Had I been in the UK Costco, I would have definitely bought some tinnies. Had I been in Costco in New South Wales then I would also have bought some tinnies. But because I was in Costco here in Queensland, no tinnies allowed.

Because supermarkets in Queensland are not licensed to sell alcohol.

This is completely opposite to the laws in the UK where every major supermarket sells alcohol. Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, Asda, Morrisons, The Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, they all sell booze and many of them also offer their own brands.

Here it’s a very different story.

State alcohol laws

There are different laws in different states, for example, in New South Wales and Victoria supermarkets are allowed to sell liquor within the store, so Aldi and Costco can sell booze.

In Queensland only retailers who own a pub can be granted licenses to operate bottle shops and even then they have to be completely detached from the supermarkets.

So let’s take a glorious look at some of Queensland’s bottle shops or, as they are more commonly called, the bottle-o. Let’s start with my favourite store.

Dan Murphy’s

This really is a megastore.

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Dan MurphysIt’s a magnificent store, isn’t it? Aisles and aisles and aisles of booze. Great prices as well, you can pick up a sixpack of Gossip’s Sauvignon Blanc for just $22.20, that’s a measly $3.70 a bottle. It’s not just a cheap wine though, it’s actually very nice.

It doesn’t make sense to drink water at that price, does it?

1st Choice

Another huge dedicated store jampacked with wall-to-wall booze.

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1st ChoiceLiquorland

We also have the smaller bottle-o’s, these are very similar to the independent off-licences in the UK.


This stands for ‘Beers Wines and Spirits’ and is another of our smaller bottle shops, although this is a larger than usual BWS and it also has a ‘drive through’. Drive through bottle shops are very popular here in Australia.


All of these stores also have large walk-in fridges where the beers are kept so you can pick up a carton of coldies and start drinking them straightaway.

By the way, I hope none of you are feeling sorry for our supermarkets, because actually, between the two of them, Coles and Woolworths, they own all of the above stores as well.

I don’t know enough about the licensing laws in all of the other states or even other countries, so maybe some of my readers can help me out here. So I have a question for you.

What’s it like buying alcohol where you live?

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Paula February 8, 2016, 1:47 pm | Link

    I wanted to buy a box of wine in a BWS. The store assistant refused to sell it to me because I didn’t want a plastic bag.
    She said it’s illegal to take the wine out of the shop without bag.
    I said it’s ridiculous because the car is just in front of the door and I went off without wine.
    How are the laws. I can’t find anything on the web.

    • BobinOz February 8, 2016, 6:26 pm | Link

      Interesting question, I think the answer may vary from state to state. Here in Queensland I’m pretty sure there is no such law, if there is many of the bottle shops I go to don’t bother.

      Were you in New South Wales by any chance? I don’t know for sure what the law is down there, but I do know they have some pretty strict laws around alcohol, I wrote about it just last week. See What I really hate about Australia.

  • peter taylor April 15, 2015, 4:21 am | Link

    Imagine getting locked inside one of those stores

  • djmcbell April 14, 2015, 12:59 am | Link

    (drive-thru bottle shop)

    “You want a pint with that?”

    “Yeeesss – blargh!”

    • BobinOz April 14, 2015, 2:09 am | Link

      djmcbell, could you blow into this bag for me please?

  • Paul Elphick April 13, 2015, 11:11 pm | Link

    I can’t get over the irony of drive in alcohol shops, it always makes me chuckle.

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