• January 20, 2020

It was with heavy hearts and a good dose of nostalgia that we heard the news that yet another one of the peninsula’s most iconic pubs, the Sir William Wallace, was shutting up shop.

If, like us, this old neighbourhood stalwart has some special significance for you, you’ll be pleased to know that owner for the past 20 years, Gary Cowan, is auctioning off the pub memorabilia on Jan 25th and donating all proceeds to the bush fire relief.

Named after the 13th Century Scottish knight, the pub was established in 1879. It was one of a number of buildings which formed part of the ship building and industrial history of the area and its proximity to the docks ensured strong patronage. Built in the Victorian Filigree style, the heritage-listed building has been used as a location for several films and TV shows, including the recent Naomi Watts movie Adore and Russell Crowe and Jack Thompson’s The Sum of Us.

However, the pub’s most-told story involves actor Mel Gibson, who used to come in when he was studying at NIDA and read the history of William Wallace on the wall. Years later he would tell film critic and journalist Roger Ebert that this was his initial introduction to Wallace and his inspiration for making his highly success epic, Braveheart.

Gary muses, “The pub has been such an integral part of the local community for so many years. It’s been like a second home for countless locals, each with an interesting story and their preferred seat at the bar! People really talked to each other in here.”

“As sad as it is to close our doors, this auction is a great chance for people to own their own little piece of the Willy Wally. We’re auctioning off everything from bar stools to glasses and mirrors – stuff that might not mean much to other people but will have special meaning to our loyal patrons. There’s also a signed Wallabies jersey and a Braveheart poster signed by Mel Gibson. The original one was taken by the former owners when I took over but as luck would have it, I recently ran into Colin Friels in the street. I told him what we were doing, he contacted Mel’s agent and Mel sent another signed poster our way. That’s our big ticket item and it’s bound to fetch a few bucks!”

“I encourage everyone to come along, bring something to drink (we’re all out of grog!) and be as generous as you can in support of our firies. The pub is being upgraded by adding a whisky and gin bar along with two residences and apartment above, and I also encourage everyone to get behind this cool new venture which will no doubt generate many of its own special memories.”

Viewings start at midday with an old-fashioned auction commencing at 2pm. Sir William Wallace Hotel, 31 Cameron Street, Balmain.

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