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NY Post
New York Post
22 Jul 2023

NextImg:Gold Rush-era brothel featured in Disney film hits the market

A Victorian tavern and house with a colorful history as both a Gold Rush-era brothel and Disney film set has come up for sale.

The Ironbark Bistro, Tavern & Residence is located at 41-43 Conness St, Chiltern, Australia a small town in the state’s northeast about 20 miles from Wodonga, Australia.

Owners Stephen and Carmen Ottaway, a chef, purchased the circa-1869 hotel and 1891-built house almost eight years ago with the aim of running a business together.

Mr. Ottaway said the property was in a rather sorry state when they first saw it.

The house had spent about three decades being used for storage and the pub itself had been shut since briefly reopening in the 1990s.

“There were two big props holding up the house’s second floor,” Mr Ottaway said.

The Ironbark Bistro, a Disney film staple, has gone on the market.

The Ironbark Bistro, a Disney film staple, has gone on the market.

“But it had the bones of a beautiful historical building and a lot of character.”

The couple embarked on a major renovation including restumping the two-bedroom house and renewing the internal frame, floors, walls, plumbing and wiring.

A new mantle was installed above the living area’s original fireplace and a spa in the bathroom.

“We had the original nice red bricks cleaned, polished and sealed,” Mr Ottaway said.

The hotel’s structure has remained much the same apart from the knocking down of an internal wall between two kitchens, to create a larger single commercial kitchen with stainless-steel walls, a pizza oven and wok burner.

The original polished floorboards and skylights remain in the bistro.

There’s also a separate cocktail bar, open beer garden with a pot belly fire, annexed cool room and 80-panel solar system.

While researching the hotel’s past, Mr. Ottaway discovered the house had formerly been a pool hall and brothel during the Gold Rush when Chiltern’s population swelled to about 20,000 people.

“Apparently there was a bolthole underneath the house with a tunnel which led from the pub next door so gentleman could go to the brothel without being seen,” Mr Ottaway said.

However, the tunnel has since been filled in and the entrance covered.

More recently, the hotel was featured in the 1975 Disney film ‘Ride a Wild Pony’, starring actors Michael Craig from the television series Doctor Who, G.P., Brides of Christ, Grass Roots and Always Greener, and John Meillon from Crocodile Dundee the films.

The hotel was featured in the 1975 Disney film "Ride a Wild Pony."

The hotel was featured in the 1975 Disney film “Ride a Wild Pony.”
Everett Collection / Everett Collection

The pub played the part of the movie’s Barambogie Crystal Palace Cinema.

Mr Ottaway said nowadays, the tavern was a well-known music venue with monthly jam sessions and band performing outdoors in the beer garden and sheds.

One of the sheds features a painted mural of local musicians.

“I’ve got the best job in town,” Mr Ottaway said.

“I’m standing here behind the bar with live music being played and when everyone joins in singing and dancing, it’s like the old Irish pubs in the movies.”

Mr Ottaway said he and Carmen loved Chiltern and running the business, but were selling up with plans to move closer to family since the birth of their granddaughter.

@realty Sunshine’s Aaron Jay Camilleri said whoever purchased the property would be buying a slice of Australian history.

“The amount of stories and history that’s in the place is incredible,” Mr Mr Camilleri.

Chiltern’s well-preserved 19th-century streetscape, including Conness St, was often described as “the most photographed street in Victoria” and has featured in several films, he added.

The Ironbark Bistro, Tavern & Residence is for sale with a $850,000-$900,000 price guide.