Squatters Rest is closed for business
By TOBY WALKER
THE Clarence Valley is set to lose one of its most unique tourist attractions after Tucabia's own private museum, Squatters Rest, closed its doors to the public last month.
With campoven dinners, live music, poetry by some of the country's leading bush poets and an extensive collection of long forgotten relics from Australia's past, Squatters Rest marked itself as a one of a kind day out for visitors to the Valley.
Owner Max Winter this week said his desire to embark on a new business venture away from the tourist industry had prompted the decision to shut the museum.
Mr Winter, who took control of the museum in January, 2004, has already begun talks with local auctioneer Kim Dahl about auctioning off the museum's collection towards the end of August, but admitted a fondness for the place.
"It was always a total show for the people who came here," he said.
"From the moment the bus comes through the gates to the moment it gets back on the road."
While Mr Winter was excited about his own plans for the future, he said he would love to hear from anyone interested in taking the museum over so that it could remain open.
"If someone came in who was a bit entrepreneurial and could be there to run it day-to-day then I have no doubt they'd do well," he said.
Originally opened by Alan Hinton around 10 years ago to house an ever-growing collection of assorted bits and pieces, Squatters Rest became known for its quintes- sentially Australian take on hospitality.
Pre-booked groups would be given a tour of the museum before retiring to the 'barn' where they would be entertained by local musicians and poets and fed damper and Billy Tea straight from an 1880s style cookhouse.
It also provided a home for some of the Valley's, and Australia's, finest bush poets.
Australian Bush Laureate Award winner Ray Essery, Billy Kearns and Donny Lloyd were often on hand to tell a yarn or two to groups as their visitors tucked into a campoven dinner. Mr Lloyd said it would be a shame to see the museum close its doors for good.
"It was something different where poets or musicians could get up and have a go," he said.
"Clubs around the place are too stiff and formal. At Squatters Rest just rock up and sit around the fire, tell a few stories and drink a few beers."