A Pub Crawl with a Twist

Aug 5, 2018 - 8:45 PM

In Australia’s vast Northern Territory, grabbing a drink with your mates can be complicated. When your favorite pub is 70 kilometers away on a tiny island in the middle of a river, a little creativity is in order—and companies such as Airborne Solutions and Pterodactyl Helicopters have stepped ­forward to provide it. Both offer the ultimate in designated drivers via helicopter tours that include stops at assorted far-flung pubs.

Airborne Solutions' Heli Pub Tours depart from Darwin, the territory’s capital and largest city. “The idea came through one of the pilots we employ, who was a former publican,” says Clinton Brisk, the company’s managing director. Though Brisk was skeptical at first, the idea of a helicopter pub crawl quickly took off.

Customers on the full-day tour spend a little over two hours in the air and touch down at five outback pubs, usually raising a few eyebrows with each dramatic arrival. “At the Darwin River Tavern, we land right in the beer garden,” says Brisk. “It’s quite a surprise for the people having a drink.”

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There’s more to the day than cold beers. Flying above the rugged Top End coastline, across abundant wetlands, and over the croc-infested Adelaide River, passengers often see nesting turtles, buffalo, and brumbies (wild horses).

“Our guests have a pub crawl in mind,” says Brisk, “but when they take off and the Top End opens up in front of them it’s a whole different experience.”

Airborne Solutions’ full-day ­helicopter pub tours cost AU$790 (US$583) per person for three people; larger groups can be accommodated using multiple helicopters. At Pterodactyl Helicopters, which also offers wine tours, pub crawls begin in multiple locations and prices start at AU$995 (US$735) per person, which includes lunch and one beer per venue. That’s the drink limit, according to the company, whose website advises that “safety is paramount…it’s more about the experience [than the alcohol].”