Australian Pubs State by State

As I wandered around the city streets during my 10 Days in Perth, Western Australia last month, it struck me that there didn’t seem to be many pubs around. The population of Perth is very similar to that of Brisbane, yet we seem to have more pubs here than they do over there.

I made a mental note to make it my mission to find out more about this, not just to compare the numbers of pubs in both Perth and Brisbane, oh no, my ambition was much bigger than that.

I wanted to find out which state or territory in all of Australia has more pubs per capita than any other.

The state of pubs in Australia

Fremanle Pub

Esk pub

Dayboro Pub


English pub

Sandgate PubPubs; I love them. But which state or territory in Australia is the place to be for pubs?

My research went surprisingly smoothly when I soon discovered a website called Publocation. What a great name for a website! Their ambition seems to be to list every single pub here in Australia by states, cities, towns and suburbs.

It looks like they’ve done a pretty good job.

According to their statistics, Australia has 6033 hotels, pubs and taverns. Their criteria for inclusion in the listing was simply ‘…an establishment with a bar with public access, providing either food or accommodation as a basic.

They say they update their figures every 12 months, so these numbers should be pretty much up-to-date.

Table 1. Numbers of hotels, pubs and taverns state by state in Australia:

  1. NSW    2052
  2. QLD     1251
  3. VIC       1092
  4. SA          658
  5. WA         595
  6. TAS        281
  7. NT            72
  8. ACT          32
  • Total: 6033

You can see these figures and much more over on the page which will also tell you that there are 47 pubs with a postcode of 4000, that’s Brisbane city centre, compared with 30 pubs in postcode 6000, which is Perth city centre.

So yes, Brisbane does have more pubs than Perth.

Of course, it stands to reason that New South Wales has more pubs than say, Northern Territory, because it has more people as well; a lot more. I wanted to know how many pubs there were per 100,000 people in each of these states and territories. For that I needed the population figures which I got from the ABS.

Table 2. Australia’s population, state-by-state, as at September 2014:

  1. NSW       7.544 million
  2. VIC         5.866 million
  3. QLD        4.741 million
  4. WA         2.589 million
  5. SA           1.689 million
  6. TAS         0.515 million
  7. ACT        0.387 million
  8. NT          0.246 million
  • Total: 23.581 million

Finally, with the aid of a calculator and by performing just 8 simple calculations we can reveal Australia’s best location for pubs.

Table 3. Number of pubs per 100,000 population state-by-state in Australia:

  1. TAS      54.6
  2. SA        39.0
  3. NT        29.3
  4. NSW    27.2
  5. QLD     26.4
  6. WA       23.0
  7. VIC       18.6
  8. ACT        8.3

So there we have it, Tasmania romps home with over 54 pubs per 100,000 population. As for the ACT, they can add no pubs to their no beach list. Just 8.3 pubs per 100,000 people in Australia’s capital city.

How does this compare with the UK?

Last time I looked at how many pubs there were in the UK was 2009 in my post called Sunday Lunch in an Australian Pub. For a very long time though, UK pub numbers have been in dramatic decline and these days there are just 48,000 pubs left.

With a population of 64.1 million people, the number of pubs per 100,000 population in the UK is:

  • UK      74.9

Tasmania, and all of our states and territories here in Australia, have a long way to go yet to catch up to the English.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Warwick May 26, 2015, 5:53 pm | Link

    Generally the Pubs in the UK are more pleasant and civilized than the the Australian pubs with their huge bars devoted to swilling rivers of booze.
    Also, the UK pubs generally serve much better food.

    I am told that one of the reasons for the closure of so many UK pubs is that the no smoking laws make it more enjoyable to drink at home.
    This is a shame.

    • BobinOz May 26, 2015, 8:01 pm | Link

      I do have to say that by and large the UK is very good at pubs, they have some fantastic small and homely pubs with bags of character. As you say, the food in some of them can be really good as well. But these are the old traditional pubs, probably the ones that are currently closing in record numbers.

      Then the UK has the large chain pubs as well, these are similar to how you’ve described Australian pubs; they are big, with huge bars, and the food can be no more than average. These sort of pubs are no better than the pub they built in my suburb here in Brisbane a couple of years ago. I can only describe it as big, ugly, characterless and full of pokies. If you’re not in the pokies room, you’re in the restaurant and if you’re not in the restaurant you’re in the sports bar with rows of TVs showing horseracing.

      And if you’re not in any of those places, you’re in the kid’s play area.

      Where is the lounge bar? Where can you just sit down, relax and talk? Nowhere in this pub, it’s food, pokies, horseracing or a room full of plastic balls.

      And yes, you are right, the change in the smoking laws have affected pubs in the UK massively, in fact in every country where they have changed the smoking laws. In an article I read, apparently the number of pubs fell by 11% in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales within the first four years of their bans, even though they were imposed at different times and during different economic climates.

      Yes, not smoking kills…. pubs.

      Oh, one more thing, the UK does do rather well in uncivilised pubs as well, you just need to pick the right (or wrong) area 🙂

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