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.

Dan Murphys (1) Dan Murphys (4) Dan Murphys (5) Dan Murphys (7) Dan Murphys (8) Dan Murphys (9) Dan Murphys (10) Dan Murphys (11) Dan Murphys (12) Dan Murphys (13)

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.

1st Choice (4) 1st Choice (7) 1st Choice (8) 1st Choice (9)

1st Choice (10)

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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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Cynthia Mac August 2, 2017, 3:26 am |

    Hi Bob. I have an alcohol beverage I would like to sell in NSW. I buy alcohol and repackage it. Do you know which lic. I would need, and the process to get my product into bottle shops. Thanks you very much.

    • BobinOz August 2, 2017, 6:54 pm |

      Sorry, I have no idea on this one, but I suspect you will need to contact either the local council or state government to find out how to go about this one.

    • Sarah August 29, 2017, 2:29 pm |

      Can I buy off you? I don’t have an ID but just wondering

      • BobinOz August 29, 2017, 8:48 pm |

        Ha ha, you made me laugh out loud Sarah.

        Let’s see now, Cynthia doesn’t quite yet have a license to sell, and you don’t have the ID to buy. What can possibly go wrong? 🙂

  • Brayden wells May 12, 2017, 4:01 pm |

    Hey Bob how do bottkeshops in Australia compare to the uk in terms of variety and products?

    • BobinOz May 12, 2017, 5:52 pm |

      Well, as you can see from the pictures above, our bottle shops can be huge so the selection is wide. In most of the major large bottle shops, you will find a large selection of international beers imported from all around the world.

      The difference is though, those beers will be quite expensive here compared with the UK, for example. If I recall a supermarket like Morrison’s would sell some great bottles of British beers like Directors, Abbott Ale, Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and the like and I think you could select three 500 mL bottles for £5.

      Here those bottles would be much more expensive, probably $8 to $10 each.

      But then I suspect if Morrison’s stocked Australian beers they would be more expensive over there. The short answer though is yes, the variety here is very good and compares well to the UK.

  • Paula February 8, 2016, 1:47 pm |

    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 |

      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 |

    Imagine getting locked inside one of those stores

    • BobinOz April 16, 2015, 12:41 am |

      Oh I have, many many times.

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

    (drive-thru bottle shop)

    “You want a pint with that?”

    “Yeeesss – blargh!”

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

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

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

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

    • BobinOz April 14, 2015, 2:08 am |

      What next, drive in pubs? 🙂

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