Ditty details end of drink drought

Ditty details end of drink drought

Today's history-conscious column has a very high alcohol content. Please read responsibly.

There are so few original ditties and verses that mention olde Canberra and even older Queanbeyan that your columnist was delighted to stumble across this one in the Queanbeyan Age of August 6, 1926. It's fun to read but those of you who know your Gilbert and Sullivan can even sing it because it fits the melody of the number Our Great Mikado, Virtuous Man from The Mikado.

A 1928 photograph of the first load of alcohol ever legally delivered to Canberra.

A 1928 photograph of the first load of alcohol ever legally delivered to Canberra.Credit:National Archives of Australia

The background to it is that in 1926 there was still prohibition in Canberra. Liquor wasn't legally sold in Canberra until 1928. Today's column displays a photograph of the very first truckload of stagger juice ever legally delivered to the national capital for legal sale on licensed Canberra premises after Canberrans had voted for a ''wet'' city in a 1928 plebiscite. Look closely and you'll see the wooden crates, still on the truck, stamped with the names of famous breweries.

Until the plebiscite, Canberrans wanting demon drink had to go to Queanbeyan for it. Elsewhere on today's tipsy page, in the ''86 Years Ago'' section, there's a news story about the ''dry'' Canberrans of 1926 using ''wet'' Queanbeyan as their grog shop.


By 1926 there was a strong lobby for allowing Canberra to become ''wet'' and this ditty by ''Jacko'' imagines it will be a strong engine for the end of prohibition when (next year) federal politicians move into the new parliament house and want to be able to lubricate their privileged thoraxes at a grog-serving bar in their Canberra workplace. All together now:

Some years ago each State it sent, wisest men of each Parliament;

Their object was with one intent to frame our Constitution.

They tried to guard our Federal State lest anything deteriorate

Or hinder what we long to make, a healthy evolution.

They framed a Law, no drink should be within Federal Territory

To cause the state of misery it has in every nation.

They placed the wording clear and cold within the Statute's sacred fold

No alcohol it should be sold to cause degeneration.

But now the members felt it hard that Federal House should be debarred

They never meant thus to discard Chambers of Legislation.

A bar within they must provide, their weary spirits to revive,

To help them as they boldly strive to save the situation.

The man who toils to make the sewer, beneath the soil, with air impure

Has got to work and still endure or start making tracks.

It's just the same with every man who wants to fill his billycan,

He's got to go to Queanbeyan to lubricate his thorax.

Why wonder then, the working man tries hard to lift the cursed ban?

And equal rights the only plan to bring such restoration.

It's only breeding civil war,

The war-clouds thicken more and more,

They're well nigh thundering at the door.