Lees Hotel

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Lees Hotel, Ingham, is recognised as the official Pub With No Beer, made famous by Slim Dusty's song.
A Queensland Government commemorative plaque was erected at Lees Hotel in 1986.

Lees Hotel in Ingham, Queensland, a Queensland icon, is recognised as the official Pub with No Beer made famous by Slim Dusty’s song A Pub with No Beer.[1][2][3] The 1957 song, which became Australia’s first international hit, was based on the poem A Pub Without Beer written by Ingham sugarcane farmer and poet Dan Sheahan in the Day Dawn Hotel, now known as Lees Hotel, in Ingham in 1943.[4][5][6]


In December 1943, American servicemen from the 22nd Bomb Group passed through Ingham en route to Port Moresby, stopped at the Day Dawn Hotel overnight and drank all the beer. The following day Dan Sheahan rode his horse 30 kilometres to the hotel only to learn there was no beer. He had a glass of wine instead, sat in the pub and wrote the poem.[2][3][6][7][8]

The poem was published in The North Queensland Register in early 1944 and was rewritten in 1956 by Gordon Parsons, who set it to music for Slim Dusty. Parsons said he did not know where the original poem came from, but when Slim Dusty visited Ingham, he met Dan Sheahan and was shown the original poem, which Slim acknowledged as being the origin of the song.[9][10] Dan Sheahan didn’t want any royalties for the song, only recognition. He went on to write three other songs for Slim.[9][10][11][12]

The Day Dawn Hotel replaced the Telegraph Hotel, which was built on the site in the late 1800s. Lees Hotel replaced the Day Dawn Hotel in 1960.[2][7]


Controversy surrounded the identity of the hotel when a pub in New South Wales claimed to be the original pub where the song was created, but in his autobiography Walk a Country Mile, Slim Dusty confirmed the song was created in the Day Dawn Hotel in Ingham.[11][13]

In 1986, The Australian Bicentennial Heritage and Environment Program gave recognition to Lees Hotel as the official Pub with No Beer and acknowledged Dan Sheahan as the author of the poem. A Queensland Government committee visited Ingham and erected a plaque of recognition outside Lees Hotel.[14][15]


A Pub with No Beer Festival was held in April 2013 at Lees to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the event.[15][16]

2012 refurbishment[edit]

Lees Hotel underwent a million-dollar refurbishment in 2012 and now includes artifacts, photographic history and memorabilia of Ingham’s early days as well as a tribute to Dan Sheahan and Slim Dusty.[4][15]


  1. ^ National Trust, Queensland Icons, The Pub with No Beer, Page 7
  2. ^ a b c ABC, The pub with no beer, Jan 15, 2009, by Winsome Denyer, http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2009/01/21/2467012.htm
  3. ^ a b Dan Sheahan, bush balladist (the pub without beer), by Irene Maskell, 1988, ASIN B0007C4714
  4. ^ a b The Cairns Post, Fresh look for icon, Nov 14, 2012, page 30, by Nick Dalton
  5. ^ John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Lees Hotel in Ingham, Queensland, Aug 4, 2013, by Sarah Scragg, http://bishop.slq.qld.gov.au/view/action/singleViewer.do?dvs=1419911142632~891&locale=en_US&metadata_object_ratio=14&show_metadata=true&VIEWER_URL=/view/action/singleViewer.do?&DELIVERY_RULE_ID=10&frameId=1&usePid1=true&usePid2=true
  6. ^ a b RACQ, Bring back the Queensland Road Trip, page 3, http://tourism.racq.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/54199/Townsville-to-Ingham.pdf
  7. ^ a b Voices of the North, Ingham’s history comes alive, by Tanya Snelling, page 9
  8. ^ ABC, Apr 22, 2013, 70 years since the pub ran dry, by Nathalie Fernbach, http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2013/04/22/3742378.htm?site=northqld
  9. ^ a b Australian Screen, National Film and Sound Archive, Slim’s visit to Ingham, by Paul Byrnes, http://aso.gov.au/titles/music/a-pub-with-no-beer/notes/
  10. ^ a b Slim: Another Day Another Town, by Slim Dusty, ISBN 9780733633423, https://books.google.com.au/books?id=tJBuBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA1865&lpg=PA1865&dq=Dan+Sheahan+pub+with+no+beer&source=bl&ots=pRPIsKiInr&sig=br4XjcT7EZvPI3TTzfbBKeqrO4A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-D-iVNK_IMHDmQXi8YHYBQ&ved=0CEoQ6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q=Dan%20Sheahan%20pub%20with%20&f=false
  11. ^ a b News.com.au, Nov 27, 2007, Slim poured a legend, http://www.news.com.au/news/slim-poured-a-legend/story-fna7dq6e-1111114967360
  12. ^ The Age, Melbourne, Sept 21, 2003, Slim Dusty: The boy who lived his dream, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/21/1063625259334.html
  13. ^ , The pub with no beer, Jan 15, 2009, by Winsome Denyer, http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2009/01/21/2467012.htm
  14. ^ Herbert River Express, April 19, 1986 Official recognition at last for Dan Sheahan, his poem – and for the old Day Dawn Hotel!
  15. ^ a b c Townsville North Queensland, Lees Hotel The Original Pub With No Beer, http://www.townsvillenorthqueensland.com.au/where-to-stay/lees-hotel-the-original-pub-with-no-beer-9157991
  16. ^ The Cairns Post, Festival re-enactment plan will bring pub with no beer back to life, March 14, 2013, page 9, by Nick Dalton

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 18°39′00″S 146°09′16″E / 18.6501°S 146.1545°E / -18.6501; 146.1545