For more than a century, the Dromedary Hotel has been an icon of Central Tilba, the jewel of the Eurobodalla hinterland. Built in 1895, supposedly from wood recycled from the whaling boats that once docked at nearby Bermagui Harbour, the salmon-hued hotel actually began its life as a coffee house called The Palace Hotel. Renamed in 1936 after the sacred mountain it nestles beneath – which also had its name changed from Mt Dromedary to Gulaga in 2006 when it was returned to the Yuin people, its traditional Aboriginal owners – the Dromedary Hotel is better known today as simply ‘The Drom’.
Perched at the ‘top’ of the National Heritage-listed town, this classic country pub has seen it all over the years, from a jealous husband who once left a few bullet holes in the bar, to the recent bushfires that mercifully spared the historic village. And thanks to The Drom’s new owners Susan Gray and Jeremy Corfield, who took over the reins in 2018 after the Sydney-siders spotted it for sale on a visit to Tilba, The Drom is now looking better than ever.
An innovative and excellent-value new pub grub menu with weekly-changing specials and a considered wine list – with some interesting drops you might not expect to find in your average country pub – are just some of The Drom’s new and improved features, along with some of the flashiest new pub toilets you could hope to find on the NSW South Coast. In the not-too-distant future, you’ll also be able to bed down at The Drom, with the upstairs rooms currently being brought right up to date in line with heritage guidelines.
“The Drom has always been the heart of the community, and we’re really committed to seeing it succeed,” says Susan, who is also passionate about sourcing the pub’s produce locally, wherever possible, from Tilba Real Dairy cheeses to North of Eden gins. She even makes two botanical-infused gins on the extensive gin list herself.
Another new addition Susan and Jeremy have introduced to The Drom is its popular Sunday Arvo Sessions with live music in the beer garden out the back, which are set to return when coronavirus restrictions ease (keep your eye on the pub’s Facebook page). But no matter what time of the day or week you visit The Drom, don’t bank on making your exit too soon.
“The Drom is the kind of place where tourists come in for a quick beer and end up staying on until closing time chatting with locals,” says Susan. “There’s a real sense of community here that’s very accepting of visitors.”
Surrounded by the Aussie bush, with great people-watching opportunities from the verandah, The Drom is the perfect spot to soak up Tilba’s heritage atmosphere. So the next time you’re passing through town, do yourself a favour and stop in for an ice-cold Drom Ale or two at one of Australia’s most characterful country pubs.