Four friends recently finished perhaps Australia’s greatest pub crawl, taking 32 years to visit every Melbourne hotel.

Stuart McArthur, Mick Stephens, Llewella Bates and Tim Dorgan attended teaching college together in 1980, and became regular Saturday night visitors to Carlton’s The Clyde.

The Clyde, Carlton. Image: website
The Clyde, Carlton. Image: website

In an attempt to keep their post-university lives from diverging too far, they undertook a pact in 1983 to meet at every pub in Melbourne listed in the Yellow Pages – which amounted to 476 venues.

To meet the criteria for a ‘pub’ the venue had to have seating for drinkers and a bottle shop. Just one glass of beer was to be had in each, but some nights over twenty pubs on the list were ticked off.

Notes were taken at each for posterity, and someone at the bar had to sign the notes to verify they had had a drink.

The quest began at the Cricketers Arms, in Port Melbourne, moving gradually further afield over the years. From time to time a venue on the original list had closed, but it was still celebrated with a stubbie drunk dutifully at the former location.

By 1989 the logistics and realities of separate lives brought the remaining participants to a dead end.

“It just got progressively harder,” McArthur told The Age.

“Tim dropped out after 195 pubs, and Llewella gave up after 350. But Mick and I kept going and got to 468.”

Eight pubs short of completion, the mission stalled and remained largely forgotten for a quarter century, until McArthur’s son spoke of going on a pub crawl, to a few venues.

“That’s not a pub crawl,” said his father, pulling out his old notebook and amazing his son with its 70 pages of records.

Recalling they had come within eight pubs of their goal, McArthur contacted his friends and it was quickly agreed to finish what had been started.

They had always planned to complete the last eight, all in Carlton, in a night, finishing at their beloved The Clyde. A Facebook page – Unfinished Business Pub Crawl – was created.

A couple of Saturday nights ago the grand plan was completed, as the four friends and plenty of supporters had a beer at The Great Northern, The Kent, The Brandon, The Dan O’Connell, The Beaufort, the Shaw Davey Slum, the Astor, and at long last, The Clyde.

“We had an idea, and we’re finally honouring it. Even a stupid idea has to be honoured,” said McArthur.

Melbourne pub crawl friends

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