Each year the Queensland Law Society runs Law Week and a feature of the last couple has been their Criminal History Tours of Brisbane. These are guided tours of many of the spots of Brisbane that are infamous because of a connection to crime. I took the 2012 Day Tour, and I recommend that anyone with an interest in Brisbane's past should investigate next year's program.
One of the spots we saw on this year's tour was the Fringe Bar on Ann St in the Valley. Here is a photograph of it from Google Earth.
(Photo: © 2012 Google; © 2012 Whereis Sensis Pty Ltd)
In its recent incarnations it has had some interesting names, such as The Dead Rat (perhaps an oblique reference to the story below) and The Rat and Parrot. But it was originally the Osborne Hotel, and it was in that form that it was once "home" to members of the Painters and Dockers Union.
There was plenty of notoriety surrounding the Painters and Dockers in the seventies. A bit like bikie groups today, the Painters and Dockers were allegedly involved in drugs, corruption and stand-over tactics.
The story recounted by our tour guide centred on the day a man was shot dead in the public bar in 1974. In the resulting coroner's inquest into the slaying, some Painters and Dockers union members who were at the hotel at the time were called to testify. Predictably they had seen and heard nothing unusual. One man testified that he was fishing a fly out of his beer at the time of the shooting, while another claimed that he was returning from the bathroom and was struggling with his zipper.
The Osborne Hotel was designed for hotelier Charles Osborne by Brisbane architect James Furnival, built in 1863 and opened in January 1864. Charles Osborne was previously the licencee at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Edward St. The Osborne was the second hotel to open in Fortitude Valley, several years after the Royal George Hotel. It was substantially renovated in the late-1920s by GHM Addison. Here is a photo of how it used to look prior to that makeover.
Click here for a Google Map.