History: Looking Back

Looking Back: Urwins and the Headlands Hotel


Headlands Hotel Austinmer.

Headlands Hotel Austinmer.

IN the days when the two big breweries ruled the liquor industry, owning most of New South Wales’ hotels, and ‘tying’ clubs and pubs to exclusive beer sales, Bob and Lurline Urwin made quite a name for themselves as trouble-shooting temporary managers for one of Australia’s most successful – Tooheys Limited.

Born in 1918 at Thirroul, Robert Moore Urwin began his working life as a railway fireman and engine driver, later meeting his future wife, Lurline at a Woonona Bowling Club ‘social’. It was ironic they met on licensed premises, as it would be in pubs and clubs they would spend the rest of their married life.

Lurline Rose Corney was born in 1923 at Coledale and the two were married at St Augustines Bulli in 1941.

I caught up with Lurline Dacombe – who had remarried after Bob’s death in 1981 – at Headlands Hotel, Austinmer, in 2003. They had managed ‘Headlands’ during the 1950s and 60s.

Sitting in the lounge bar of the run-down pub, rumoured for demolition and redevelopment, memories of happier times came flooding back for 80-year-old Lurline.

Read the latest Looking Back feature at the Time Gents website.

About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


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