The World’s Most Breathtaking Pub Crawl Requires a Helicopter
Your mission: Hit five country pubs in one day, scattered across the stunning greenscape of southeast Queensland, Australia. The closest are 40 miles apart. How to accomplish it?
By helicopter, of course.
This is the decadent reality conceived by Pterodactyl Helicopters, a company based out of Ipswich, whose aim is to pamper guests with an unforgettable sightseeing experience and drinking adventure all at once. It’s the perfect time to go, because serious microbreweries are popping up all over the region. And who wants to drive?
A basic tour begins at around 8:30 to 9:00 a.m., when Captain Mike Jarvis, a seasoned pilot with some 35 years of flying under his belt, picks you and one or two of your friends up at your hotel (or home, if your yard is big enough). His Robinson R44 will soar up to 5,000 and head toward the Scenic Rim Region for the first of three pubs and two breweries that you’ll visit over a seven-hour period. As Jarvis explains, “I’ve been doing this forever; I’m no spring chicken, but every time we lift off, it’s a bloody awesome experience.”
Before you put on your beer goggles, you’ll want to pull out your binoculars: Jarvis will point out notable sights, including the mountains of the Rim and the volcanic peak, Tamborine Mountain. You’ll see Lockyer Valley, an area rich in fertile farmland, and the oldest man-made overpass in Queensland: Dickabram Bridge, built in 1886 and located in the town of Miva. If Jarvis sweeps low, you can spot wallabies and kangaroos (koalas are tough to see from the air, sadly). “Koalas are rare because they’re typically private and quiet guys,” Jarvis says.
And if drinking is not your No. 1 priority, because, say, more than two-thirds of the region’s famed Great Barrier Reef has been bleached of its color by rising sea temperatures, you can take a moment from supporting the local small business economy to soar over the aquatic marvel and educate yourself about the changes firsthand. “We’re all about customization,” says Jarvis. “So if there is something of importance for you to experience and learn about—we’ll make your priority our priority.”
The following establishments are scattered from the border of New South Wales, west to Selwyn Range, east to the glimmering Coral Sea, and north to the towering Glass House Mountains. You’ll hit them all on your tour (or similar drinking outposts—the list rotates), plus a lunch with locally sourced ingredients in scenic Harrisville. Jarvis adds: “The list is always changing because we want to showcase all the talented microbreweries that have popped up in the last couple of years. Mates here are taking their beer very seriously these days—from the traditional to the experimental (think: carrot beer).”
Dugandan Hotel: This hotel in the town of Boonah is considered one of the oldest in southeast Queensland. “The Dugie” has served up thirst-quenching suds to coal miners and railway workers, but today, it's contentedly offering tourists and locals a pint or three.
Royal Hotel Harrisville: More than 150 years old, this allegedly haunted “house” is supposedly frequented by a shadowy female figure who roams the pub’s kitchen at night. But worry not, heli-based visitors will be drinking in the reassuring comfort of daylight.
The Scenic Rim Brewery: This family-run brewery prides itself on locally sourced ingredients. While you’re here, the Fat Man may beckon to you—specifically, the Fat Man Maroon Ale: It’s a palate-pleasing brew with a slightly bitter finish.
The Bearded Dragon: This pub not only offers accommodations. It is located on 110 acres of farm and bushland and boasts skyline vistas of Tamborine Mountain. More importantly, its pub offers 15 beers on tap. While visiting this watering hole, try the Beard on Beard, its own in-house creation; as an Australian Pale Ale, it offers easy sipping with notes of grapefruit, passionfruit, and a delicate hoppy finish.
Four Hearts Brewing Pumpyard Bar & Brewery: Typically reserved as the finale of the tour, the Pump, as it is affectionately known, is a local microbrewery located in a 100-year-old technical college. It was also the original site for the supply of water to the City of Ipswich—hence the name. It currently has nine different beers, but since the rule with Pterodactyl Helicopters is one pint per location, opt for the Ipswich Challenger—a bronze medal winner in the 2016 Australian International Beer Awards. It’s a light ale with a crisp vibrancy and notes of mandarin, green tea and warm spices.
If you’re thirsty for more, you need only book about a month in advance with Captain Jarvis, who will craft a personalized itinerary for you.