On the South Coast of New South Wales you will find the sleepy little town of Jamberoo. While on a visit to the area, I was asked to go see a musician ‘Pat Drummond’ play one Sunday afternoon there. The deal was, we would go for lunch and then watch him play. Yeah, this sounded like a typical Australian way to spend a Sunday afternoon. To my delight, I not only enjoyed a great meal and music, but I discovered the Jamberoo Pub and Johnny Warren Museum. I was treated to loads of soccer memorabilia of Johnny Warren and the Australian Socceroos. So why would a sleepy little pub, 10 kms inland of Kiama have such a quaint museum? Here’s why.
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The Jamberoo Pub was built in 1857 and is one of the historic buildings you will find in Jamberoo. The pub, like many Australian pubs, is a popular meeting and drinking hole for both locals and visitors. What makes this pub unique is that as soon as you walk inside, you are surrounded by soccer memorabilia. And not just on one wall, but on most walls and ceilings of nearly the entire pub. So why would a pub be devoted to Australian soccer and a man named Johnny Warren? Here’s why.
Who is Johnny Warren?
John Norman Warren, MBE, OAM (1943-2004) was an Australian soccer player, coach, administrator, writer and broadcaster. He was known as Captain Socceroo for his passionate work to promote the game in Australia. The award for the best player in the A-League is named the Johnny Warren Medal in his honour. He is often referred to as the Godfather of Australian Soccer.
He started playing football in Australia in 1948 at around the age of 5 years old when it was called soccer (still is) and was known as a game for ‘Sheilas, wogs and poofters’ – not very complimentary. Terminology for you here: Sheilas – females, wogs people from overseas, poofters – homosexuals. He played for a number of local and overseas teams, and captained Australia when they first qualified for the FIFI (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup in 1974. This brought soccer into the sporting foreground of the domination of rugby league and AFL.
Unfortunately, it took another 32 years before Australia qualified again to play in the World Cup and during this time, Johnny Warren had become a commentator on SBS (TV Channel). He believed the strength of Australian football lay in building the skills of the next generation. He had a vision and so his coaching career began. With Les Murray, another SBS commentator, they became known as Mr and Mrs Soccer. He also wrote a number of books on football, wrote a biography Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters, and was influential in establishing the A-League competition in Australia.
‘I told you so’
Johnny Warren was convinced that soccer would be embraced by the Australian pubic and that one day the Socceroos would qualify again for the FIFA World Cup. And a few weeks before his death in 2004 he was what sporting legacy he would like to be known for, and he said: ‘I told you so’. Australia then qualified in 2006 and 2010 for the FIFA World Cup and commentators would say, Johnny Warren would be looking down from heaven saying ‘I told you so’.
So Why a Museum at Jamberoo Pub?
The Jamberoo Pub was bought by one of Johnny’s brother’s in the mid-1980s. Today it is owned by one of his nephews. Over the years of ownership, they have decorated the walls will Johnny Warren, Socceroos and Matildas, memorabilia. You will see lots of photos, newspaper and magazine articles, some signed jerseys plus trophies. But there is one photo in particular that caught my eye. Over the bar is a photo of Pele, squatting down talking to a little boy. This little boy is now the current owner of Jamberoo Pub.
I probably spent a good 45 to 60 minutes looking at all the memorabilia at the Jamberoo Pub and Johnny Warren Museum. Which was free to see as it is free to enter the pub. It is also kid-friendly as kids are allowed in the dining room and a large over-flow dining room at the back of the hotel. It is one of the most interesting little museums I have visited while travelling around Australia.
Pele over the Bar
Jamberoo Pub Main Bar
Looking down hallway of Jamberoo Pub
The back room of Jamberoo Pub is filled with Johnny Warren memorabilia
My Afternoon at Jamberoo Pub
The original reason I was invited to visit Jamberoo Pub was for lunch and an afternoon of music by Pat Drummond. Aside from the memorabilia Jamberoo Pub had great pub meals and great music that day. You can book a table for lunch or dinner at their website here. I enjoyed a great feast of calamari, salad and chips and was treated to a fun afternoon of music. Then spent time walking around Jamberoo Pub looking at and reading much of the Johnny Warren memorabilia.
Other Things to See and Do in Jamberoo
Jamberoo is an easy day trip from Sydney and there are a number of things to see and do here. Firstly, learn about the history of Jamberoo by taking a walk along the Main Street and visit other historic buildings. Further afield, Jamberoo is home to the Jamberoo Recreation Park. This is a great place to visit on a hot day to enjoy all the water slides and to cool down. Or drive up into the Jamberoo Rainforest and cool off at a waterfall. Two of note are Minnamurra Waterfall in the Minnamurra Rainforest and Carrington Waterfall. There is also the Illawarra Fly where you can walk across the tree tops. And Kangaroo Valley is not too far away. And go home via Stawell Tops and the Sea Cliff Bridge.
Discover the history of Jamberoo
Extend Your Stay in Jamberoo
If you fall in love with Jamberoo and want to extend your stay, Jamberboo Pub offers accommodation. It has 9 rooms available. Visit their website for details and to book. Or check out Booking.com for more options.
Are You Ready to Visit Jamberoo Pub and Johnny Warren Museum?
Even if you aren’t into football soccer, a visit to the historic Jamberoo Pub and Johnny Warren Museum would be fun when visiting this part of Australia. Many Australian pubs are unique, particularly some of the country pubs, with many of them having a history and links to famous Australians, like the Jamberoo Pub. Have you been to a fun pub? I’d love to hear in the comments.