|'TAVERN' began in Sydney in 1993 in response to the popularity
of the Fitzroy Tavern in London, and other pub meetings around the United
Kingdom. Initially a private affair of a small group working on Data Extract,
this quickly expanded to incorporate any members, non-members, family &
The first official TAVERN took place in late 1993. Attracting
over 20 people to Pasquales in Ultimo, the monthly meetings became a place
not only to meet and drink but to plan events.
The Sydney Doctor Who Science Fiction Fan Club was created over a drink
at Pasquales in December '93 - a partnership being forged between Neil
Hogan and Robert Smith to create a monthly club for Doctor Who and Science
Fiction. Time Brains, the monthly newsletter, was launched at the February
1994 gathering which also marked the move of TAVERN from Pasquales to a
more ideal place in that of the Museum Hotel on William St in the City
of Sydney. (Pasquales restaurant and beer garden was mostly outdoors
which, given the high cost of Italian food and the invasion of rain and
mosquitoes in summer, meant moving was certain.)
Coming to a tavern meant reading the latest news packed issue of Time Brains
as well as buying Dreamwatch Magazine from Dallas. Fans would also
bring their latest DWM's, inform each other of the latest clip discovery,
or talk about why Dimensions in Time is canon. The DWFCA also received
review books so attendees would get to see these months before they were
released in Australia, and sometimes a few weeks before they were released
in England. The SDWSFFC began importing the Doctor Who books and selling
these at TAVERNS too so many people came to get the latest book cheaper
and faster than local stores.
Also, around this time, Kate Orman had leapt to fame with her novel
The Left-Handed Hummingbird and TAVERN ended up becoming an occasional
signing session for her. Paul Cornell also turned up at a TAVERN in '94
which, of course, meant more signings. Doctor Who 2000, an audio zine that
had been recorded by Neil Hogan since 1989, garnered several fan interviews
This meant TAVERNERS were prepared for the Space Cadets invasion of '95
which meant more interviews. (Space Cadets was a radio programme
exploring science fiction in music) Around this time Gary Russell also
made an appearance while researching his book 'Invasion of the Cat People'.
Marcus Nickinson, freelance DWM article writer and photographer also TAVERNED
as did other prominant fans such as Jonathon Blum. Word had spread.
Tavern was temporarily moved for Whovention III with Elisabeth Sladen
so that it became part of the convention. Anyone could attend as long as
you made it into the Radisson Hotel bar in North Sydney. Elisabeth
Sladen was there. Due to a major restaurant stuff up, attendees were compensated
with a $50 tab at the bar. It didn't last long, of course.
1995 also saw the year that Kate Orman gave up the Doctor Who Fan Club
of Australia. She told Neil Hogan at a TAVERN that he could take it over
if he wanted to. His immediate response was NOOOO! Until she said later
that if he didn't she'd give it to the Victorian club.
Speaking of which. A contingent of Doctor Who Club of Victoria members
made it to Sydney and an impromptu TAVERN was organised for them at the
Gengis Kahn Mongolian Restaurant. (The DW movie had not been released yet
so the reference was coincidental!)
A mini TAVERN was held for John Levene when he came to Sydney in early
1995 at the Rocks Bar and another impromptu TAVERN was organised for Lalla
Ward when she made it to Sydney at Sketches Restaurant.
The problem for many sudden events such as these was that, unless contact
details were known by the members of the clubs and people could be contacted
and available with only 24 hours notice, (which was usually how things
worked out) then many would've missed out on the impromptu events as they
didn't occur on the first Friday of the month.
The Museum Hotel on William Street behind the Australian Museum sported
interesting restaurant facilities. People would buy the restaurant, try
and make a profit out of it, then sell it within 3 months. So every 3 TAVERNS
or so there would be a completely different menu and we'd need to explain
to the new managers exactly why we are there and how often we come there.
In 1997 this changed as the hotel realised that it would be better to
get rid of the restaurant altogether. The search was on for another place
and a temporary site was found in the Globe, a bar on Elizabeth Street.
Unfortunately hooligans and louts frequently disturbed these places and,
even though Sarah Groenewegen complained about the poor behaviour of the
bar staff and, as a result, the group was compensated with drinks, we decided
it wasn't worth it. It was at this point that tavern took a downturn
in attendance as no new place could be found. Sporadic TAVERNS were held
in '98 in various places but, with Whovention 2000 on the horizon, regulars
changing jobs and interested parties not able to contact anyone about it,
there wasn't enough people to keep it running.
One of the big problems with organising a tavern was getting someone
to get there early to put tables together, make sure there were plenty
of chairs for everyone and to advise the staff of the increase in people.
This job usually fell to Neil Hogan who would arrive an hour early and
set everything up. Doing this for 6 years meant he was pretty much sick
of it so he took a break from Tavern for awhile.
2000 also saw planning for Whovention 2001. With so little time there
were enough committee meetings for volunteers to make a monthly TAVERN
obsolete. And so TAVERN became a myth as no one could be found who wanted
to organise it or go to the trouble of setting up tables.
Thankfully 2001 saw a resurgence in interest. This may have been a follow
on from the new CD releases finally becoming popular or it could've been
the influence of Whovention 2000 with Sylvester McCoy and Nicola Bryant
and the upcoming Whovention 2001 with Colin Baker and Anneke Wills. Dallas
Jones and Neil Hogan began a promotion for TAVERN at the new abode of the
Off Broadway Hotel. Yes, he was back to pushing tables together again an
hour before Tavern. The bistro area wasn't very crowded on a Friday night
which made it perfect. Numbers built quickly since initial email messages
and various comments pointed to it being much better than Museum Hotel.
Unfortunately after 9pm it really was a hassle to actually get anyone
through the door due to the band playing. Arriving late became impossible
and for those who'd just ordered their meals, dealing with the noise of
the band was a pain.
So, in 2004 Tavern moved to the Lansdowne Hotel opposite Broadway. Not
only was this a venue that was easy to get to via a bus from Central, long
benches of tables were already set up. No need for anyone to come in early
to put tables together!
We meet upstairs where we can get a cheap steak, a cheap drink, and
plenty of places to sit. This is the current venue for the Sydney TAVERN
group and we're still meeting there this year, 2007. You can find out meeting
So, come along and join in making history, (oh, and getting drunk, of