What would be your ideal assignment as a travel reporter? On the ABC TV's Back Roads, celebrating its 100th episode, it would be checking out famous and not-so-famous Aussie pubs. That's exactly what host Heather Ewart got to do in the opening show of the ninth season. "I do enjoy a beer," she says. "But you don't have to be a beer drinker to have fun in a pub these days." Trawling through ABC archives, the team uncovered some great footage of stories on the great Australian pubs. "Every country pub tends to be the hub of the town. It's not just for drinking beer, it's for wakes, celebrations, wins at footy, music and so much more these days," Ewart says. "Pubs in the country are still not so trendified (sic - is that a word?) as they are in the city. "Back in the day, women and kids couldn't go into pubs, but now there are beer gardens where the whole family can have a meal and feel a sense of community." Ewart has visited some fascinating locations since the show began in 2015. "I've been to so many wonderful places - the underground cave in the Nullarbor is one. You have to get a permit and descend with professional divers. It was a steep climb down, but the colours were amazing and it was pristine, as it wouldn't have been touched in thousands of years. "Heading out to the [Buccaneer] Archipelago off Derby was very special - you have to go by boat; the gorges in the Pilbara with the amazing Aboriginal art. They are special because they are places I know that are not easy to get back to." She has also faced some dangerous situations. "Climbing down that cave was one, and driving with buffalo hunters in the Northern Territory. They are skilled drivers but it felt pretty hair-raising. Of course, the ABC does risk assessments for wherever we are heading." What has she learned since she began this journey? "I've learned there is always more to see. "I mean what's not to love? There is a great variety of landscapes right around Australia from saltbush flats down the road to mountain country. And the great characters you meet who are doing extraordinary things. Some of the people from the first season stay in touch and have become friends. "I think the biggest eye-opener for people is how vast it is. "You know your own patch well, and Australians are good flyers, but unless you're driving you don't realise. In this season we go to Brunette Downs. You have to fly to Mount Isa, then it is still a six hour drive. You will love the car Ewart drives around the outskirts of Melbourne. It's a Ford Falcon Futura 1964 or therabouts, owned by a friend who collects and restores old cars. "He kindly lent it to me, it was lovely to drive." One of the pubs Ewart visits is the Regatta Hotel in Brisbane, where actress Sigrid Thornton's mother and a few of her friends took a stand against the law that women weren't allowed to drink in the public bar. "I believe it [Back Roads] has made people learn more about our country. And it was so important during COVID - people could pretend they were travelling. "Perhaps the one good thing that came out or COVID was people were seeing more of this wonderful country."