A long and arduous journey through thick and thin, with hard fought times deserves a pleasant ending and the enjoyment of reaching your destination. But there was not to be such luck for The Cambus Wallace or her crew on September 3, 1894.
The vessel, which was full with supplies headed to Brisbane, had left Scotland some 121 days previously. Upon experiencing severe winds, the ship ran aground and split in half on the shores of South Stradbroke Island. Spilling her booty of whiskey, rum and dynamite onto the beaches, the locals were naturally quick to take their share, and The Cambus Wallace story was born!
A much shorter and safer journey was one taken by Dave Ferry some four years back with three friends to Sydney. After a few days away spent drinking in some fine establishments, the group returned home to The Gold Coast. Time passed, and the group longed to relive their recent experience but with their own touch on things. The hunt began for a suitable venue to open a bar, and it wasn’t to take long before they were dropping anchor in Nobby Beach.
Inspired by both a failed journey half way across the world and a fun filled trip to the big city, we decided to stop by and talk with the man behind the big smile and bow tie, Dave Ferry of The Cambus Wallace.
You guys were recently part of Free The Hops festival and are holding a rum workshop. What can we expect, and are more events in the pipeline?
Yeah, we have plans to do a whiskey one next year, probably April when it begins to cool down. I don’t know about you, but I tend to find I automatically switch from rum to whiskey in winter, and back to rum when it warms up! So this will be our first workshop, and yeah it’s aimed at a beginner level but will be great for anyone who enjoys rum. I know a lot about different rums from over the years and will be piecing together stories, experiences, audio visuals, and generally making it a bit touchy feely. [Touchy feely with rum sounds good to us!]
Tell us about your favourite places for coffee, eats, and drinks.
For coffee I don’t usually go very far, I’m a little slow to rise in the mornings also… So, anywhere around Nobbys, be it Canvas or 52 Espresso. For lunch I’ll sometimes head on up to Alfred’s for a burrito or a hot dog. As for heading out for drinks, I like the relaxed vibes in Après Surf, the plentiful craft beers at Bine, and the cocktails at Aloha.
What’s your take on the Gold Coast bar scene and how does it differ from say, Brisbane or Sydney?
I think it’s definitely on its way up. When you compare it with Sydney, that was pretty much our inspiration. You can go down there and have your pick of all these amazing bars to drink at. There’s heaps going on though and it’s exciting times ahead, for sure.
What is it about The Cambus Wallace you are most proud of?
I think it’s probably the comfort and warmth people feel when they walk in here. The whole place just felt from day one… worn in, never new really.
What’s your go-to drink or spirit of choice?
Same answer that most bartenders will give I’m afraid; a Rum Old Fashioned, it never fails! And you can never go past a good cold pale ale either.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened on a night at The Cambus Wallace?
[Laughs] We had an electrical fire in here, there must have been a fault somewhere, or it could have been a circuit overloading. We had to get someone to go outside to put the fuse back in and as soon as he did the fire started again, but it would overload and cut out. He then would push it back on and sparks would fly again! This went on for a few minutes before someone ran out and told him, I had the fire extinguisher out, it was hectic. 10pm on a Saturday night too, but we were open again the next night.
What’s the greatest challenge of running your own business, and the most fun?
It’s a lot of work. The buck often stops with you, and it’s up to you to come up with the solution to every problem. It is awesome working for yourself though, as you’re your own boss and there’s no second-guessing what is expected of you. You can do and implement what you feel is right, running on gut instinct if you want to. Connecting with customers and making them drinks they’ve never had before is great and the creative aspects of being a bartender is the most fun for me.
On a rare day off, how do you like to spend your time?
I love the Gold Coast, but I do like to get away from it all. You can find me up in Tallebudgera Valley or down in Byron Bay, somewhere a lot quieter and with more nature around me.
Tell us the best advice someone has ever given you?
An old manager of mine said something along the lines of more than often you have the skills to do whatever you want in life, it’s just up to you to actually do it. I liked that, and have still remembered it to this day.
There have been a couple of things that were in the pipeline, but didn’t work out. We have been on the look out for a little while now. Will it be a Cambus Wallace 2.0? Probably wouldn’t be a Cambus Wallace 2 [laughs], highly likely to be something similar though. Depends completely on location and the circumstance, but we don’t want to push anything. With The Cambus Wallace, it just fell into place and the timing was good, plus we kind of “fluked” it a tad [laughs]. We’ll see.
Photo Credit: Brooke Darling for Metropolist