WITH the shock news that the infamous Shepherd’s Bush Walkabout is closing down for good on 6 October, it’s time to pay tribute to the iconic London Aussie watering hole.
Every Australian who has passed through the UK has one; a Shepherd’s Bush Walkabout memory. A blurred experience of beer, sweat and Jimmy Barnes — the snow falling outside as your arms are wrapped around newly made friends at the end of a long night spent bonding over the curiosities of this foreign land you now call home.
My own first Walkabout memory unfortunately was not so successful. It was 2003, and I was a green 18-year-old backpacker passing through town on my rite-of-passage European adventure. The eve of the Rugby World Cup Final — England vs Australia — and what better place to watch it than with fellow Aussies in the famed SheBu Walkie.
What my friend and I didn’t realise was that every other Australian in London was to have the same idea, swarming off the Shepherd’s Bush tube in their green & gold and literally running for the pub doors.
We didn’t make it in, and were relegated to a dark corner of some nearby bar reeling in the overflow of SheBu patron wannabes. Jonny Wilkinson kicked a dropped goal in the final minute to seal England’s win, and the gasps from SheBu Walkie peeled out across the Green. All I knew of the Walkabout then was it was the place to be, and we weren’t there.
Ten years on it is still the place to be for backpackers searching for a welcoming crowd and expats desperate for a slice of home. Even if that slice of home is the Disneyland version — complete with boomerang adornments and jugs of snakebite. Though my SheBu Walkie memory bank remains incomplete, there must be a collective wealth out there of friendships formed, loves found and lost, and happy memories from within this green and yellow icon of Australian life in London.
One we’ve already come across is the story of Jack Vernon and Megan Sandiford, who met at SheBu Walkie on 28 February 2004 and married six years later, complete with a tribute to the pub in which they met in the form of a wedding cake.
Others have been shared with us on Facebook. “A coin dropped in your beer means down it in one”, writes Shane Westmore.
Scott Ferguson remembers being there the night Australia beat England at Upton Park. “My god that was a big night!” he writes.
It is an iconic pub, and whether for better or worse, an important part of the Australian presence in the UK. So, to honour the role of SheBu Walkie has played in all our lives, we’re searching for your memories of the Walkabout — a moment that captures what the Walkie means to you and your London experience, whether as a traveller or expat.
Share them with us below, on Facebook or Twitter (#shebumemories) and we’ll collect them all in a SheBu Walkie tribute to be shared on the weekend of their closing.
Like the beer and the snakies, let the memories flow!