A few summers ago I was sitting out back of a pub in West End playing eyeballs with a blue tongue lizard as long as my thigh.
It was mid-afternoon and she was handling the heat better than I.
I sat and baked and swat like I never done swat before while she nestled in the scrappy bushes lining the fence and crunched down old chicken bones, shard by bony shard.
It was a long time before I went back. But times have changed in West End.
Nowadays places to drink in the shade without marauding lizards are plentiful. Try some of these on for size:
The Joynt, 48 Montague Road.
If you visit West End only once in your life, make sure you drop by the Joynt for a cold beer. It might be a little out of the way, but it has atmosphere you can’t purchase – plus it’s close to the river for an after-drink stroll. Just don’t go expecting fancy cocktails and silver service.
Best drink: Coopers Sparkling longneck in a bucket of ice.
Popular with: Music lovers. Come here in the arvo for a few cold drinks to pass the time until the evening’s act.
Open: Varies. From 2pm on weekends but closes 8pm Sundays. 3pm til midnight most weekdays, opens earlier on Fridays for a lunchtime drink.
Lock n Load back garden, Boundary Street.
It’s like a jungle, starring you and fans blowing cool, cool mist on your hot, hot face. Great for a couple of cold drinks – but it’s set up for meals, not drunken sprawling.
Best drink: Always partial to a pint of Rogers. Ok, two pints of Rogers.
Popular with: Lunchtime workers during the week, holidaymakers on weekends. You can always get a seat during the week, but from 2pm you can probably have the whole jungle to yourself.
Open: Every day. 10am til late Monday-Friday, opens 7am on weekends.
Boundary Hotel front bar, 137 Boundary Street.
West End was founded on the front bar of the Boundary Hotel. Ok, that’s a lie. But it might as well have been. You haven’t been to West End until you’ve had a drink in the front bar of the Boundary – or until you’ve cadged a rolly off somebody and smoked it on the footpath outside.
Best drink: Schooner of draught, thanks mate.
Popular with: Generations of local barflies who were born, raised, weathered, and buried in the front bar.
Open: Every day 10am til midnight. Closes 10pm on Mondays.
The Burrow, 37 Mollison Street.
The decor is a blend of rustica, kitsch, and pop culture and upstairs is a rabbit warren of small rooms – but there’s always a quiet seat, usually with a view, the windows are open and the overhead fans comfortably whop away.
Best drink: Extensive beer list but on a hot afternoon who can go past a glass jar of cider with ice, slices of apple, and raspberries?
Popular with: Young men with beards and young women with their shirts tucked into their shorts, all looking disgustingly carefree and easy going.
Open: Every day except Monday, 7am til late.
The Depo, 16 Horan Street.
A new one, hidden off the main drag. The decor is eclectic, the prices are high, and compared to some the selections are narrow. But the Depo exploits certain features – the outdoor seating, quiet street, shady trees, understated stated staff and music, focus on quality food and drink – to create a place you wished Brisbane had more of. Happy hour is 4-6pm.
Best drink: Happy hour’s $8 prosecco while sitting outside on a balmy afternoon takes some beating.
Popular with: Young couples. In love.
Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 7am to midnight.