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The Bulletin Hotel

The Bulletin Hotel – by Henry Lawson

I was drifting in the drizzle past the Cecil in the Strand
Which, I’m told is very tony – and its front looks very grand
And somehow fell a-thinking of a pub I know so well
Of a place in West Australia called The Bulletin Hotel

Just a little six-room shanty built of corrugated tin
And all around blazing desert – land of camels, thirst and sin
And the landlord is “the spider” – Western diggers know him well
Charlie Webb – Ah, there you have it! – of the Bulletin Hotel

‘Tis a big soft hearted spider in a land where life is grim
And a web of great good-nature that brings worn-out flies to him
‘Tis the club of many lost souls in the wide Westralian hell
And the stage of many Mitchells is The Bulletin Hotel

But the swagman, on his uppers, pulls an undertakers mug
And he leans across the counter and he breathes in Charlie’s lug
Tale of thirst and of misfortune. Charlie knows it, and – ah, well!
But it’s very bad for business at The Bulletin Hotel

“What’s a drink or two?” says Charlie, “and you can’t refuse a feed”
But there many a drink unpaid for, many sticks of borrowed weed
And the poor old spineless bummer and the broken-hearted swell
knows that they are sure of tucker at The Bulletin Hotel

There’s the liquor and the licence and the “carriage” and the rent
And the sea or grave ‘twixt Charlie and the fivers he had lent
And I’m forced to think in sorrow, for I know the country well
That the end will be the bailiff in The Bulletin Hotel

But he’ll pack up in a hurry and he’ll seek a cooler clime
If I make a rise in England and I get out there in time
For a mate o’ mine is Charlie and I stayed there for a spell
And I own more than a jingle to The Bulletin Hotel

But there’s lots of graft between us, there are many miles of sea
So, if you should drop on Charlie, just shake hands with him for me
Say I think the bush less lonely than the great town where I dwell
And – grander than the Cecil is The Bulletin Hotel

The original manuscript of ‘The Bulletin Hotel’ was found in July 2003 in Perth in a home previously the home of past Premier Phil Collier who was a  at admirer of Lawson. The poem festures Lawson’s friend Charlie Webb. Webb did not open his “Bulletin Hotel” until 1900 but he ran a few Goldfields pubs and Bertha Lawson herself wold return to the Bulletin Hotel in 1905 after her separation from Lawson, to work for Charlie Webb.

Lawson wrote the poem in London in 1901 when he was feeling hiomesick. Charlie would have no doubt written to Lawson telling him of the opening of his latest pub, The Bulletin Hotel at Yudamindra in the WA Goldfields. Lawson would have reflected on Charlie’s good nature and was sure to have him in mind when he wrote “A Bush Publicans Lament” and “The Lost Soul’s Hotel”



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