Labour in Vain has been around forever – since 1853 in fact, as the rickety old tables will attest.
Apparently a signboard for the joint once portrayed a frustrated white woman labouring – in vain – to scrub the black off a black baby. Across the road, the Perseverance Hotel played one-upmanship: the black baby on their signboard was slowly turning white, thanks to the perseverance of their washer woman. Creepy!
Whatever the effect of these dubious advertising campaigns to win patrons from across the road, Labour in Vain endures as a mighty fine saloon – now replete with a huge rooftop smoking deck with panoramic views of the city and northern suburbs. Inside, you’ll find Brunswick Street’s friendliest pool table and the exclusively brewed Fitzroy Amber Ale to quench your thirst, along with other local beers.
The unpolished wooden tables in the front bar are the highly prized destination for those seeking a long session over jars or jugs or a view across Fitzroy’s main drag. You can also catch the occasional live gig here, but what you won’t get is attitude. The laidback feel of the place and its punters somehow makes the beer taste better too – more authentic. And their rebellious coat-of-arms T-shirt is just hot.
197A Brunswick St, Fitzroy
(03) 9417 5955
Open in summer Mon–Wed 2pm–late, Thurs–Sat 1pm–1am, Sun 1–11pm; in winter Mon–Wed 3pm–late, Thurs–Sat 2pm–1am, Sun 2–11pm