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Pub rock flourished in the 1980s, and this period is now regarded with a degree of nostalgia, and it has come to be considered something of a "golden age" for Australian post-punk rock music. A number of social and economic trends combined to reduce the flourishing pub-rock circuit to a shadow of its former self.

In the late 1980s Australian state governments began relaxing the laws governing legalised gambling. One of the most significant changes was the controversial decision to allow the placement of poker machines in pubs. Poker machines quickly delivered huge financial returns to pub licensees and it soon became much easier and more profitable for licensees to close the rooms formerly used for music shows and refurbish them as poker machine parlours.

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Another related trend that severely affected the pub circuit was the property boom in Australian capital cities in the 1980s. In cities like Sydney, which once boasted dozens of pubs in the central business district alone, rising prices and increased demand for CBD and inner-city properties saw many pubs closed and demolished. Their strategic location made them prime targets for redevelopment, as did the fact that these buildings which were often only two or three stories high were relatively easy and cheap to buy up redevelop.

The interlinked process of urban redevelopment and gentrification also had a major effect on pubs that acted as rock music venues. From the 1970s on, Australian capital-city CBDs began to be redeveloped; many buildings that were once occupied by businesses or offices that operated on a 9-to-5 basis moved to cheaper locations and in the 1990s a significant number of formerly commercial buildings were either demolished to make way for apartment complexes, or were redeveloped for housing.

Another trend that had a significant negative impact on the pub circuit was the process of gentrification in inner-city suburbs in Australian cities. For much of the 20th century, suburbs like Port Melbourne and Newtown (Sydney) were working class, low-income areas with a high proportion of migrants, widely regarded as slums by those in the more affluent areas of the city. However, in the last quarter of the 20th century, the former working-class populations aged and died, or became more affluent and moved to other places. Suburbs like Paddington, Glebe and Newtown attracted many younger people because of their colourful character, the availability of cheap rental housing and their proximity to the city and major tertiary institutions like The University of Sydney. Many former students eventually settled in the area and bought property there, and these former "slums" soon became some sought-after locales, beginning a process of gentrification that saw many many pub venues put under increasing pressure to restrict their trading hours and limit the amount of noise that emanated from pub gigs, which was often considerable.

The combination of the advent of poker machines and the trends related to property development led to many renowned pub venues ceasing their presentation of music and other events. The inherent value of the property occupied by pubs also led to many more being demolished or developed.

One notable casualty of this trend in Sydney was the former Harold Park Hotel in Glebe. This once thriving pub venue was a popular music venue from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, and during its heyday in the 1980s, as well as regular rock gigs, it presented a variety of other events including:

- "Writers in the Park", a weekly performance forum for authors, which featured an appearance by renowned author Tom Wolfe

- "Comics in the Park", which presented some of the best Australian and overseas comedians, including a legendary impromptu stand-up performance by American comedian Robin Williams

the weekly political discussion forum "Politics in the Park"

Australian pub design

Sir William Wallace Hotel, Balmain

Royal Hotel, Woodstock.

Empress Hotel, Fitzroy North

Watchem Hotel, Watchem, Victoria

Merbein Hotel, Merbein, Victoria

Birchip Hotel, Birchip, Victoria

Cann River Hotel, Cann River, Victoria

Yatina Hotel, South Australia

The typical Aussie pub differs markedly from the cosy, welcoming, family-friendly "cottage" atmosphere of British pubs. Rapid urban development, coupled with a widespread disregard for Australia's colonial architectural history, has played a large part in this. Most older English pubs have been declared protected heritage sites, since many are now centuries old, but this curatorial attitude is yet to achieve widespread acceptance in Australia, and few pubs in Australia date back further than the second half of the 19th century and some of the grandest Victorian-era pubs have also been destroyed.

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Surviving late 19th-century pubs such as the Old Canberra Inn in Lyneham, Australian Capital Territory are similar to their British antecedents in layout and atmosphere, although many Australian pubs of this era are typically a good deal larger than the average British pub; many are three stories high or more, and they usually include several very spacious bar areas, as well as large accommodation spaces on the upper floors.

Major regional and country pubs dating from the 1800s and early 1900s are often large and imposing structures, and many were lavishly decorated, both inside and out. Because of Australia's high summer temperatures, wide awnings and verandahs were common around pub exteriors, as they were for most colonial-era commercial buildings. Pub verandahs and balconies were often fitted with elaborate iron lace facings and cast-iron columns, because these new mass-produced components were highly fashionable, relatively cheap, and easily transportable. Sometimes, in areas where wood was plentiful, internal decoration included elaborately-carved wooden fretwork panels.


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