Updated: Feb 20, 2019
Hotelier Neil Bailey with Tim Faulkner and Dan Rumse from Australian Reptile Park. Image courtesy of the Scone Advocate.
Victoria Hotel at Moonan Flat is a well-known destination pub, frequented by day-trippers, motor-cycle social groups, tourists and those exploring the nearby Barrington Tops National Park. Now, in addition to all the pub has to offer, it has also become a conservation ground for 'living dinosaurs'.
When new hotelier Neil Bailey was first contacted by The Australian Reptile Park, he had no idea that the stretch of river behind the hotel was home to a rare sub-species of short-neck turtle that has existed for millions of years.
"They contacted me and explained that the 10 kilometre stretch of river that runs behind the pub is home to a species of turtle that pretty much dates back to the dinosaurs," he said.
"They contacted me and explained that the 10 kilometre stretch of river that runs behind the pub is home to a species of turtle that pretty much dates back to the dinosaurs..."
"But they also said that due to predators, mostly foxes, and other impacts the turtle population is in real trouble with maybe only a couple of hundred left.
"They asked if I wanted to be involved in a conservation effort to help and I was more than happy to be a part of it."
Hoteliers Neil and Monica Bailey
"They asked if I wanted to be involved in a conservation effort to help and I was more than happy to be a part of it..."
The short-neck turtle species relies on the stretch of river bank behind the hotel as a place to lay their eggs, so with Neil's help and a combined effort from The Australian Reptile Park and Aussie Ark, future nests will now be identified and protected to keep the eggs safe from foxes, water dragons, goannas and other predators.
"Almost every day you can see a least a couple of turtles out in the sun. There's also a platypus down there as well as birds and other wildlife."
In addition to the river at the rear of the property, Victoria Hotel has ten guest rooms with accommodation to suit singles, couples and families, as well as a new chef and menu at the hotel's Red Dog Cafe and Restaurant.
"We have a brand-new menu with some great pub classics done really well. We've also just updated our guest rooms," Neil said.