Doctor Who TAVERN Sydney
TAVERN history from 1993 to 2007. For 2007 dates go here.
'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 & friends.

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.)
That's Dallas Jones as Santa Claus on the cover of TimeBrains 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 at TAVERN. 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 dates here.

So, come along and join in making history, (oh, and getting drunk, of course!)


Pasquales restaurant in Ultimo

Neil Hogan, Matthew Glozier and Paul Barnier

Jon, Nathan, Todd, Simon and Peter
(clockwise from left)

Museum Hotel William St
(now renamed Hotel William)

The Globe on Elizabeth St

Paul Cornell, Gary Leigh and Marcus Nickinson

Peter Griffiths, Kate Orman and Robert Smith

Off Broadway Hotel

An early TAVERN at the Museum Hotel

The Victorian Delegation.

Todd and Dallas
Yeah, yeah, Neil, I'll sign those as well.
Paul Cornell
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