Decorated with memorabilia, cheeky jokes and faded photos, the walls of the Walkabout Creek Hotel are alive with 121 years of history.
- Owners Debbie and Frank Wust are set to retire after owning the Walkabout for nine years
- Crocodile Dundee made the venue famous, but Mr Wust says loyal customers are at the heart
- He says it will be interesting to see what the next publican does with the place
But it’s the worn wooden floors — scuffed by countless boots and sliding chairs — that tell the story of how beloved the place is by locals and tourists alike.
Since being introduced to the world in the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee, the north-west Queensland pub has made a name for itself far more than Mick Dundee’s prized watering hole.
Now, after nearly a decade of inhabiting the Walkabout pub, owners Deb and Frank Wust are passing the torch and preparing to retire.
“One thing that will always stick in my mind is that when we first took the joint back, we had to keep pinching each other,” Wust said.
“It definitely took a bit of getting used to, but honestly we lived the dream.
“Who doesn’t want to own a pub? Whenever you want a drink, you go right behind the bar and serve yourself.”
Mr Wust said travelers from the UK and US have traveled as far as Australia just to see the pub.
“A guy came in and when he left we asked what his next stop was,” he said.
“He just said, ‘I’m going home now. “”
Movie History Makes The To-Do List
Crocodile Dundee was criticized for its depiction of women, indigenous people and the Northern Territory, but by 1986 it was Australia’s highest-grossing film of all time.
At a time when audiences ate films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone, Crocodile Dundee exploded internationally.
Mr Wust said tourists still flock from far and wide to see the original set and props used in the film.
“It’s on a lot of people’s list,” he said.
“They built a set behind the pub where most of the scenes were filmed, as the bar area is a bit too small for the cameras.
“People love having their picture taken.”
In 2016 Dundee Fest was held to mark the film’s 30th anniversary.
“The 40th anniversary is coming up, so hopefully someone will give it a shot,” Mr Wust said.
“So many great characters”
While ties to the film have put the pub on the map, customer and local loyalty are central to the Walkabout’s success, Mr Wust said.
“One of the highlights was meeting so many different people from different backgrounds and living their stories,” he said.
“And the people here are exceptional.
As Mr and Mrs Wust search for the Walkabout’s next publican, they say it will be a sad day when the pub is in the rear view mirror.
“I will really miss the people here – there are so many great characters,” Mr. Wust said.
“But I think we will come back every year.
“It will be exciting to see what the next batch will do with it – if you want to buy a pub, you might as well make a famous one.”