The 1950s Outback Diner

We all love a juicy, Aussie steak or a good old fashioned pie.

And now a new 1950s themed outback steakhouse allows you to experience the hokey racism, the funny attitudes toward women and cultures, a shorter life expectancy and relax into the warm bubble bath of simpler, gentler times

The Bush Comes To The City

East Borgonia in Sydney isn’t a place you associate with the outback. It’s in the bustling south-west, in the middle of an industrial centre with high rise apartments rapidly springing up around it. It’s young families and professionals. Everyone talks fast. Folks here use the Internet.  There’s a coffee cart on every second corner. But in many ways it’s the perfect place to open a 1950s themed outback steakhouse.

​“Yeah, people like to come here and unwind, just get away from it all” says Dale Ferguson, who set the steakhouse up a few weeks ago despite widescale angry protests. “It’s like a little piece of Aussie history on their doorstep”.

​However, the East Borgonia Outback Steakhouse goes further than other similar diners. It doesn’t just offer simple Aussie tucker; it hurls you back to the time of early 1950s Australia.​

Step Back In Time

Owner Dale Ferguson in happier times

“It’s like a fun history lesson” says Dale “a bit like, hang on I’m getting this great Angus steak with $5 dollar chips and an extra spoon, but there’s free educational stuff going on too.”

Controversially this has included a “White Australia Door Policy” , a no-women sitting down policy;  Indigenous Australians are denied entry and there’s forced Kanaka labour in the back kitchens. Asian people can only request food on Thursdays.

​Dale Ferguson defends it: “Look I’m not saying the 1950s was completely great, but it was all about being Aussie, we were all being Aussie together. Though some blokes and chicks weren’t allowed to be Aussie, but you know we’ve moved on, still there’s a lot to be said about being Aussie.”

​“It’s like a fun history lesson” says Dale “a bit like, hang on I’m getting this great Angus steak with $5 dollar chips and an extra spoon, but there’s free educational stuff going on too.”

“I’m getting this great Angus steak with $5 chips and an extra spoon, but there’s free educational stuff going on too.”

outback cafe.png
Female customer flouts the ‘no sitting down’ policy

Controversially this has included a “White Australia Door Policy” , a no-women sitting down policy;  Indigenous Australians are denied entry and there’s forced Kanaka labour in the back kitchens. Asian people can only request food on Thursdays.

​Dale Ferguson defends it: “Look I’m not saying the 1950s was completely great, but it was all about being Aussie, we were all being Aussie together. Though some blokes and chicks weren’t allowed to be Aussie, but you know we’ve moved on, still there’s a lot to be said about being Aussie.”

​ The restaurant screams 1950s Australia. From the laminated tables, the vinyl tiles, the asbestos stuffed ceilings to the quaintly scrawled “NO BLACKS, NO IRUSH” signs – made by a local artisan. And while there have been daily demonstrations outside the Steakhouse and local indigenous groups have condemned the restaurant as being in “poor taste”, Dale says they are all missing the point.

​“Look,” says Dale, “this whole thing is about families, OK? It’s just meant to be a simple place where you go and eat a good steak and have a real dinkum outback experience. It’s for the kids.“

​During our visit we indeed saw one three year old enjoying some play time in a traditional WHITES ONLY 1950s playpen that contained some rusty fencing wire and a small, inquisitive brown snake.

Historical Acclaim

Paul Ferguson
Paul Ferguson – local historian

Meanwhile the Steakhouse has received plaudits from academics and historians.

“Seems legit” says Paul Ferguson, a local historian, whose only book “My Brother Dale: The Out-Of-The-Box-Thinkerer” won plaudits from local e-bulletin The Ferguson Friday Wrap.

​Adds Paul “What I loved about the Steakhouse was the authenticity. Major authenticity going on. I walked in there and just felt like I was in 1950s Australia. As a historian you’re always going, well this doesn’t seem like history. But you know something? Dale’s restaurant, to me, right? It felt like history.”

Customers inside the restaurant were mostly positive about the experience and the cuisine.

 

old lady
Bev enjoys a complimentary bowl of gruel

 

Bev, a 66 year old retiree from somewhere we couldn’t remember, said she really loved the kangaroo steaks with a side of sausages drowned in a sea of fatty gravy.

“Oh yes it was lovely” she said. “The chips were a bit cold but apparently that was because of the Cold War. We did have one funny moment which I giggled about… I asked the waiter for a cheeky glass of wine, then he reminded me I was a woman and couldn’t drink in a pub for another two decades. We had quite the chuckle. Then I was asked to leave.”​

Other customers enjoyed the entertainment. “Yeah loved the dancing” said Elliot, a 36 year old electrician, who seemed to have a worrying fungal growth . “Great stuff. They did this dance of the Single Unmarried Mothers. At the end you chucked them food if you liked it. They all seemed a bit on the plump side and I was enjoying my pie, so I didn’t.”

alfresco toilet
Hole In The Ground Toilet (Ladies)

Not all the facilities were winners. The Hole In The Ground Toilet initially caused consternation and anger from the customers. But then Dale dug a separate hole for the ladies.

At the end of the day, says Dale, the Steakhouse is all about making the customer happy. “Whether it’s an Aussie bloke out for some good nosh, or an Indian woman who we toss scraps at through the window if she cleans the floor, otherwise we lash her, we’re there for everyone.”

Looking Ahead

And Dale has eyes for the future. He’d like to take the concept and expand. “Yeah there’s a Thai takeaway next door I’ve got my eyes on. It just feels a bit weird having a Thai restaurant next to a dinky di Aussie steakhouse from the 1950s. Bit wrong. Kind of makes us seem a bit less authentic. So I’d like to take them over.”

We wonder if Dale Ferguson means he’d take them over by any means necessary.

“Yeah I’ll drive a tractor through their shop if I have to!” chuckles Dale. “Or firebomb them” he adds in a jovial growl.

With the growing success of the Steakhouse, we’re sure that option won’t be necessary!

Theme Nights!

The Steakhouse has a special theme each night of the week:

  • “No Sheilas” Mondays
  • “No Lazy Irish Layabout” Tuesdays
  • “Small Pox Wednesdays”
  • “Asians Served At The Door Thursdays”
  • “Thank God The Queen Still Rules Us Fridays”
  • “Penicillin Bingo Saturdays”
  • “Slim Dusty Night Is Every Single Night Sundays”
The 1950s Outback Steakhouse is located at 37 Gray St, East Boronia, Sydney.