A cocky tale

In the 20th century, restrictions on the sale of liquor gave rise to the era of the 'Six O'Clock Swill' and an uncomfortable reputation as a 'wowser' state.

Famously overturned by the Dunstan Government in 1967, restrictions on trading past 6pm were actually introduced in 1916 following a popular referendum and decades of campaigning from the State’s Temperance movement.

But not everyone in town was a god-fearing teetotaller, and subsequent decades were rife with tales of doggedly rule-breaking publicans and cheeky sly grogsellers who went to great lengths to enjoy a drop on their own terms.

Perhaps the most colourful sly grog case came in 1932, when a man named Cyril Taylor managed to beat a charge of illegally serving alcohol at his Angas Street home thanks to an unlikely witness: his pet galah ‘Cocky’.

Arrested after an officer heard suspicious noises including the chinking of glasses and an opening gate, when the case reached court Taylor’s defence countered that the sounds heard were in fact made by his bird, a keen mimic of many household noises.

Upon taking the witness perch the galah offered a brief sample of its repertoire that impressed the magistrate enough for the defendant’s explanation to be deemed “reasonable”.

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Angas Street