Star Hotel riot

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The Star Hotel riot, occasioned by the closing of a popular pub, was one of the largest riots in Australian history. An estimated 4,000 people fought with police on the streets of Newcastle, New South Wales on the night of 19 September 1979.


The Star Hotel, in the West End district of Newcastle, Australia, was a pub and live music venue that catered to young people, gays and merchant seamen. It featured drag shows and live music in all genres. The Star was run down, and had attracted negative attention from the authorities.

The owners, Tooth and Co. closed the bar with one week's notice, inspiring a protest campaign. The Star's final night was Wednesday, 19 September 1979.


The Star's final night featured live music and free beer. Attendees remember that at 10pm the police interrupted the band in the middle of a song and demanded that everyone leave immediately, creating a hostile reaction. As the patrons began leaving, confrontations began with a small contingent of police, which escalated into throwing of missiles, arrests, injuries and the burning of cars over the following two hours. The event was covered by local TV stations and made international news.

Popular culture[edit]

The Star Hotel closure was the subject of a song by Australian band Cold Chisel.

The band playing on riot night was the Heroes, who prophetically played the song Star and the Slaughter.[1][2]


  1. ^ "The night the Star exploded". 
  2. ^ CHAD WATSON (9 January 2015). "The real story behind the Star Hotel riot". Newcastle Herald. 

External links[edit]