The Oaks Hotel at Neutral Bay (just across Military Road from the offices of Jackson Wells Morris) was always a popular watering hole for patrol officers and education officers studying at ASOPA. In fact, there was period in the 1960s, with the kiaps banned a number of other pubs in the district, that it became the nearest place to buy a beer. The pub was especially well frequented each second Thursday – pay day – when it became difficult to get a quorum for those afternoon lectures.
The Oaks, as all habitués are aware, has an expansive courtyard dominated by a magnificent oak tree (quercus robur). The tree was planted in August 1938 by Kathleen McGill, a member of the Furlong family who held the hotel’s licence from 1918-75. The original 30cm high seedling came from the old Anthony Horderns department store in Sydney’s George Street, where it was a custom to give an oak tree seedling to any patron spending more than 10 pounds.
The tree still stands, and long may it, and this month the hotel management is giving away oak seedlings to patrons who buy four steaks at the Bistro. Not quite as elegant as spending a tenner at Anthony Horderns, but a neat historical echo nonetheless.