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Drag queens Fran Giapanni and Dakota Fann-ee host trivia
Photograph: Anna Kucera | Fran Giapanni and Dakota Fann-ee

The best pub trivia nights in Sydney

The boozers and bars where quiz is king

Written by
Time Out editors
&
Maya Skidmore
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Do you possess freakishly accurate knowledge of the Simpsons oeuvre? Do you know your Australian cricket captains better than you know your own uncles? Are you totally up to date on current affairs and '90s pop culture? Use all the weird, wonderful and utterly useless facts in your arsenal to win cash, booze and glory at one of Sydney's best pub trivia nights, where knowledge really is power.

Like drinking up high? These are Sydney's best rooftop bars. And for something closer to sea level these are our favourite beer gardens in Sydney.

The best pub trivia nights in Sydney

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Lane Cove

This Monday evening trivia takes place in the Lane Cove club’s upstairs section. This makes sense seeing as it can accommodate the large numbers that turn up, but it also means you're in for more of a chic community hall vibe over a cosy pub atmosphere. You’ll find two rounds of 20 questions, that cover all sorts of topics. The host kindly gets votes from the room for some topics (‘Kardashians or chemistry?’), and may even chuck in bonus points if you make him laugh with your answer. They also flip the night’s rankings on their head with a bet-your-points-style final question.

What can you win? Vouchers for food and bottles of wine.

What’s the crowd like? Young families, loud ladies' nights and big groups.

What’s for dinner? Tapas if you're not that hungry, grilled chicken and steak if you are.

  • Bars
  • Marrickville

Some trivia nights are all about stringing out the fun for as long as possible, but at the Golden Barley it's a wham-beam double round that moves at a cracking pace. Lucky, as Monday isn't typically the night for lingering at the pub. Host Gavin is a no-nonsense host with some very tricky questions - don't be surprised if the questions are from events as recent as 12 hours earlier. Got specific skills? They also run a fortnightly pop-culture trivia night.
What can you win? First prize is cold hard cash; second and third get bar vouchers; plus there are rounds of drinks for your table for winning rounds of heads and tails or "who am I?" questions.
What’s the crowd like? You'll want to be in and seated well before kick-off because every seat is filled on our visit – this is serious quiz business so there’s not a lot of time for banter. Only victory.
What’s for dinner? Plan to eat dinner here because the Barley does a very good line in pub classics.

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At the Burdekin, 'Thursgay' is a trivia night devoted entirely to queer entertainment. Named 'Let's Get Quizzical' and hosted by Sydney's glitter king (@kevininthecity) this pub trivia night is all about pizazz, shine and celebrating Sydney's most sparkly of diversity. With the question time followed by Tuck for a Buck – a free and open drag competiton, this particular pub trivia night refuses to let your Thursday go by lightly. 

What can you win? There are $25 and $50 Burdekin vouchers, free shots for the best team name and a whole array of sponsored merch up for grabs for the victorious. 

What's the crowd like? Tending towards the young and queer, but with a significant sprinkling of diversity in terms of age, gender and sexual orientation, Thursgay is a night for everyone. 

What's for dinner? House-made schnittys amongst other classic pub fare, but if you come between 4 and 6pm, you can get a $10 pizza and $5 beer, wine and spirits. It's a yes. 

  • Bars
  • Paddington

Hosted by comedian Jeeves Verma, this weekly trivia extravaganza will take you, and your most-hidden brain corners for a whirlwind of a spin. 

What can you win? There’s an $70 bar voucher for first place, a $30 voucher for second, and bottle of wine dispensed at the host's discretion as an encouragement prize. Plus bonus round winners get packets of Tim Tams and jugs of beer as rewards. 

What’s the crowd like? There’s a little wiggle room that develops when the after-work crowd gives way to the trivia regulars, but if you’re sure you want to play you need to get in early to secure a table amongst Paddington’s well-dressed professional set. There are at least three big tables on our visit – punters appreciate the power of numbers.

What’s for dinner? A $20 steak frites special. 

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  • Bars
  • Newtown

This slick Quizmeisters-run weekly competition has an eclectic mix of questions, although a good, up-to-the-second working knowledge of pop culture will come in handy. If you’re the type of person who knows more about the political history of the Falkland Islands than the TV show Love Island, you might be out of your depth. There are also video rounds to test your cinema knowledge with onscreen actors performing famous scenes out of context.

What can you win? First prize is a $100 bar tab, second is $75 and third is $50. But as with all good trivia nights there are bonus rounds where you can win jugs of beer.

What’s the crowd like?
The tables fill up pretty quickly even though it’s a Monday, so make sure you’re there at least before registration starts at 7pm.

What’s for dinner?
A $15 chicken parm will aid your trivial pursuits.

  • Bars
  • Darlinghurst

Mondays are quiet in Sydney, but there’re hijinks to be had at Darlinghurst’s beloved beer barn. Trivia starts around 7:30pm, and you’ll encounter two rounds of questions, including 14 original audiovisual clues ranging from identifying a pop song being sung by an opera singer to discerning which famous Hollywood scene is being re-enacted by the worst actors you've ever seen.

What can you win? Winners walk away with a $75 bar tab, second place gets $50 at the bar and second last gets a $25 bar voucher, with jugs of beer up for grabs through the night.

What’s the crowd like? There’s a handful of bigger groups who reserve tables and keep an eye on the Facebook page for clues in the lead-up to Monday night trivia, and it’s worth checking – the original five members of AC/DC was worth five points we could have used.

What’s for dinner? The burgers are the calling card here with several taking their cues from the States, such as the Philly Cheesesteak and Nashville fried chicken burgers.

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Golden Age Bar – Every second Tuesday, 6.30pm
  • Bars
  • Surry Hills

Quiz master Alexei packs a lot of movie-themed fun into two rounds of questions, ranging from the dead easy (who is Judy Garland’s movie star daughter? – duh!) to the more head-scratching (can you name every Spike Lee film starring Denzel Washington?). Extra points are awarded for punny team names, and it pays to keep an eye on the Rotten Tomatoes ratings because ‘Fresh or Rotten?’ is a regular feature. The chic bar is as small as Kevin Spacey’s chances of a comeback, so booking a table on the website is recommended for the fortnightly events.

What can you win? There are Golden Age Cinema Gift Passes for the overall winners and drinks and bar snacks for the runners up.

What’s the crowd like? This hip young film crew knows their Truffaut from their Tarantino, so be prepared for some stiff competition.

What’s for dinner? It’s mainly snacks and pretty expensive, with a $6 lolly bag the cheapest option up to a $45 antipasto plate, and you can get cheesy toast for $16. The quiz only goes 90 minutes though, so you can go seek a more affordable late Surry Hills supper at 8pm.

  • Bars
  • Surry Hills

Do you know whether sumo wrestlers throw rice or salt into the ring before a match? How many flags can you name with the colours red, green and black? What colour is Bond Street on the Monopoly board? If you’re a wiz at random facts you’ll meet your match in the Dove & Olive’s trivia host, who runs a tight ship at this Tuesday night battle of the minds. Larger teams tend to book ahead for seats at the circular tables upstairs and the same team names tend to dominate the scoreboard each week. 
What can you win? Winners collect a $75 bar tab, but each bonus round comes with covetable prizes such as a jug of gold coins, or a voucher for jug of beer.
What’s the crowd like? If you need to stow your laptop bag under your quiz sheet you’ll be in good company. There’s a good mix of young CBD and Surry Hills office workers here.
What’s for dinner? Tuesday’s daily special is a $12.90 schnitzel that you can pimp for $2 with bacon and three cheese topping; sriracha sauce, pineapple and three cheeses; or the Italian – grilled eggplant and, you guessed it, a trio of cheese.

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  • Bars
  • Balmain

In wonderfully geeky game-show style, your host emarks on three rounds of questions with a bent towards geography and music, throws in two bonus questions where teams cry out answers to win jugs of beer, and ticks off a themed name-that-celebrity questionnaire. You can reclaim the cash you’ve spent on beer by throwing a dollar in for the true-or-false round, winner takes all (which on our visit was close to $40).

What can you win? There’s respectable bar vouchers of $80, $40 and $20 for the top three teams.

What’s the crowd like? Most tables are booked by large groups of knowledgeable (and fiercely competitive) baby boomers who are sticking to their studies rather than hitting up the bar. Signing up to the weekly clues email list might be a wise move.

What’s for dinner? Since you’re there for more than two hours, make a bulk investment in a basket of buffalo wings with a tangy blue cheese sauce, or order a metre-long pizza for the table.

  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • Rozelle

It’s not like we need much encouragement to head to the Welcome for a counter meal and a craft brew, but for low-key entertainment their trivia night hits the spot. Two rounds, famous faces and alfoil sculpting are all on the agenda, in addition to some musical numbers. 

What can you win? First prize is a $60 bar voucher. Second and third prize are a bottle of wine and last place gets a packet of chips. 

What’s the crowd like? It may have gussied up the eats and drinks, but the Welcome is well loved local and the crowd skews towards local kids grown up and catching up with dear old dad, nice young couples on a quiet night out and even a local pooch weaving in around the chairs. It’s not a huge space so if your heart is set on the quiz it’s worth booking. 

What’s for dinner? $15 buys you a schnitzel that is everything you want from a counter meal classic – crunchy golden shell, juicy white meat and chips and coleslaw. In fact, Tuesdays are the only night they do schnitzel here, so get it while it’s going.

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Petersham Bowling Club – Tuesday, 7:30pm
  • Sport and fitness
  • Petersham

The dining-hall style interior of the PBC might as well have been designed especially for trivia. It’s massive, and the long tables are spaced far enough apart that you can avoid peekers or eavesdroppers. Led by the firm but kind ‘Mr Trivia’, the questions here are separated into two entertaining rounds. 

What can you win? The grand prize is a fifty buck bar tab, and that goes down by $10 increments for second and third place. There’s also a bonus round of four questions at the end, which could land you a slowly growing over several weeks jackpot.

What’s the crowd like? Very local. The PBC is a much-loved neighbourhood pub so you’re up against tables of families, neighbours, dog park besties, and OG Petersham gentrifiers. There’s a few younger share house types but mostly regulars who’ve worn their seats in.. 

What’s for dinner? Peri Peri chicken wings, burgers and cute personal pizzas.

  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

This Surry Hills favourite is busy on a slow night, so be warned: when trivia's on, the place gets absolutely packed. Get in early (for maximum dedication, you can book your team a table ahead of time) so you can order and finish off a schnitzel before you and your team take on the rest of the bar in a rowdy game of ‘know-it-all’. Two rounds with 30 questions total (spread across two rounds) and Quiz Meisters are on hosting duties.
What can you win? First, second, third (and second-last) places get a $80, $40 and $20 bar tab respectively, and there's also plentiful jugs of beer to won. 
What’s the crowd like? They're an organised bunch on trivia night, with most of the tables in the front room reserved ahead of game-time. Take that as a sign they're an I-know-my-shit bunch. 
What’s for dinner? You can do a happy-hour sesh from 4-6pm, and then graze their refreshed pub menu that does all the classics, plus gnocchi. 

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  • Bars
  • Petersham

This pop culture heavy contest eschews obscure historical cricket facts for questions on Round the Twist and pop music, plus they add an audio-visual element for good measure.
What can you win? The prizes here vary from week to week but first place nabs a $70 bar tab, $50 for second and $20 for third place. 
What’s the crowd like? It may have changed gears from its days as a topless bar, but the Oxford Tavern is still very much a locals’ haunt during the early part of the week and regulars book tables in advance.
What’s for dinner? If you’re not here for the trivia then you’re here for the schnitzels. Tuesdays they are $12 a pop 6-10pm and come in four flavours: Mexican, Hawaiian, parmigiana and Napoli.

  • Bars
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 1 of 4

Quiz-masters give good chat as they blast through three rounds of ten questions that start with the politics of the day and then break down to anything they can find on the internet. No bells and whistles here – straight questions, no musical rounds and no famous faces. It’s all about the Q&A. 
What can you win? Darlo Bar themes the prizes around the time of year (be it Valentine's or the Queen's Birthdays) and also to match their own calendar of events (be it a '70s disco shindig or a house party inspired rager). There's also $75 and $50 vouchers up for first and second prizes, as well as jugs and schooners up for grabs. 
What’s the crowd like? It's a mixed bag of regulars, older folk and uni students. 
What’s for dinner? The Darlo doesn't have a kitchen, but they'll outsource from Burger Joint and a local Thai spot and serve it at your table. 

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Ivanhoe Hotel – Tuesday, 7.30pm
  • Bars
  • Manly

It's a packed bar at the Ivanhoe for Tuesday night trivia, so get in well before kick off if you want to grab a table for a group (there was barely even a single seat free at 7.30pm the night we were in).  Questions ranged from ’90s music to contemporary film and ’60s fashion. This ain't an exam you can prepare for. 

What can you win? Prizes vary but if you win you'll usually take home a decent bar/food voucher.

What's the crowd like? Manly’s locals come out in droves for trivia. You’ve got the young and surfy mixed with the sun-kissed middle-aged and 30-something couples. 

What's for dinner? On Tuesday nights it's all about $16 pizzas.

West Ryde Hotel - Tuesday, 7.30pm
  • Bars
  • West Ryde

This is a corporate-run but enjoyable trivia night of six rounds of questions divided into categories: Who Am I?, Sport, Geography, Music et al. Teams get to choose two rounds that give them double points, which keeps the final outcome surprising, and all questions are projected onto screens with related imagery.
What can you win? There are bottles of wine for the winners and vouchers for second and third place.
What’s the crowd like? It’s a chilled suburban crowd with a pretty wide age range. If anything, questions favour the older crowd.
What’s for dinner? The drawcard here is the large indoor self-serve barbecue. Choose your meat and cook it yourself to enjoy a big discount.  

 

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  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • Newtown

There is a die-hard crowd of trivia players at the Union’s weekly quiz night, so the competition is fierce – people take their movie quotes, sporting rules and geography very seriously here. Host Craig (a palaeontologist by day) is a genial host who gives you lots of thinking time and at least one clue for each team per round. At over three-hours run time, this is a Trivia night you can really settle into so order a tasting paddle and get comfy.
 
What can you win? First prize is an $80 bar voucher, second is $40 and third get their pick out of two bottles of wine. The second bottle goes to second last place. Plus there are drink prizes for special questions like “Who am I”.

What’s the crowd like? This trivia night has a dedicated local following, so there’s a sense of camaraderie in the room. Plus, given the questions lean towards Gen X and Boomer pop-culture, the crowd skews that way too.

What’s for dinner? Fuel your brain with one of their 11 burger options, including a vegan rendition. If you play well with others there are also two-person serves of Southern fried chichen and slow-roasted lamb. 

  • Bars
  • Marrickville

Hosted by an MC clad in a resplendent purple smoking jacket, The Henson’s trivia night is a rambunctious affair. Hugely popular, the competition here is fierce, loud, and proud. 

What can you win? The Grifter Brewing co. sponsors the Henson’s trivia nights so expect quality beers when you win a free jug.

What’s the crowd like?  Loud groups of Inner West dudes, tables of rowdy uni-age intellectuals, and quiet trivia hobbyists whose stern scribbling reveals that this is not their first rodeo… this week.

What’s for dinner? The usual burgers, fried chicken and tacos, plus poke bowls, noodles and nasi goreng.

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  • Bars
  • The Rocks

Questions lean more towards pop culture, sport and animals than politics or global news stories, but host Tyson likes to shake things up by throwing in a Who Am I?, bonus points for correct spellings, heads and tails based on flipping a coin, and a puzzling riddle to unpack between rounds. 

What can you win? First prize is a $100 bar voucher, second place gets one for $50 and the team with the third highest score walks away with a $25 voucher.

What’s the crowd like? The outdoor tables are long, which is perfect for groups of six-plus players. It’s also helpful to have at least one team member who loved British TV in the ’80s.

What’s for dinner? It’s time to show your Aussie pride – the Australian has $18 pizza specials on trivia nights and their toppings include saltwater croc, peppered kangaroo and emu.

Hunters Hill Hotel  – Wednesday, 7:30pm
  • Bars
  • Hunters Hill

The Triple H hosts weekly trivia in its ground floor public bar. It's run by the guys from InnQuizitive trivia, so you'll get to know different hosts throughout their stints, which range from long term to drop in gigs. They say a quick game's a good game and the HHH delivers with eight rounds of ten questions delivered over about an hour. No mucking about here. 

What can you win? Winners score a $75 pub voucher for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third. 

What's the crowd like? It depends on the night – some weeks it's super busy with trivia nerds from far and wide, other weeks it's a quick game with locals only.

What's for dinner? They do a $18 parm 'n fries special on Wednesdays which is a good deal given counter meals are a little bit fancier and more expensive here – extra motivation to win that dinner voucher for your next visit.

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Kirribilli Hotel – Tuesday, 7:30pm
  • Bars
  • Kirribilli

This red bricked Milsons Point pub dishes out weekly trivia that often packs out well before the kick off time of 7.30pm, so book a table ahead if possible. A roster of different personalities from Left of Centretainment's Comedy Trivia host the evening, so expect quick-fire rounds with laughs interspersed throughout. 

What can you win? First prize is a hefty $100 voucher, while second is $50, with a variety of prizes and giveaways also available throughout the night. 

What's the crowd like? It's a mixed bag but there’s always a big turnout. It skews a little older, but the questions don't necessarily cater to that age bracket. 

What's for dinner? You'll find classic pub fare, mixed in with some more exotic and flavoursome additions (dukkah, baja fish tacos, truffle waygu burger)

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Woolloomooloo

If you’re not following the bell ringing you in for start of a theatre production downstairs, you’ll setting up for trivia at this famous old pub. You'll get sped-fled through two rounds of questions, interspersed with quickfire-rounds: you’ll score an instant jug of beer or choccies for the table if you can match quotes to films, guess-that-song Spicks and Specks-style, or answer a cooking question.

What can you win? Bar tabs of $50 and $25 are awarded to grinning winners and runners-up, as well as beer jug giveaways. The team that comes last is awarded a bag of random goodies 'sponsored' by Coles which could contain multi-purpose sponge cloths, rubber gloves, 10 steel wool soap blocks, window cleaner, and/or dijon mustard. 

What’s the crowd like? If you haven’t reserved tables you’ll share bar-leaning space with salty locals – who’re continuously reprimanded for yelling out answers while not actually playing –and the resident bar dog, Fin.

What’s for dinner? Fancy British pub grub like schnitzel and gravy, fish 'n chips with mushy peas, and treacle custard tart.

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Woolpack Hotel – Tuesday, 7:30pm
  • Bars
  • Redfern

If you’ve accidentally found yourself at this undervalued Redfern pub on a Thursday then you’re in for a treat, because their trivia game is strong. It's worth noting that the venue is pretty small and booking ahead is strongly encouraged. 

What can you win? Winners walk away with a $50 bar voucher, but there’s a cash jackpot to be won as well – it was $200 on our visit. 

What’s the crowd like? Triviality has a dedicated following that has built up over the years and the crowd reflects the transitional stage Redfern is in, with gentrified newcomers mixing with the older locals. 

What’s for dinner? They don’t do a special for the night, but there's a solid menu of pub classics as well as shareable snacks such as salt and pepper calamari and mac 'n cheese balls.

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