PUBS FROM THE PAST | Forest Reefs Tavern has served thirsty Cadia miners | Photos

BACK THEN: The Forest Reefs Hotel in 1937. Photo: ANU/Noel Butlin Archive
BACK THEN: The Forest Reefs Hotel in 1937. Photo: ANU/Noel Butlin Archive

With a history dating back to the 1880s, the Forest Reefs Tavern has had a colourful and unique life south of Orange.

Miners have been the lifeblood of the small, single-storey building and the fortunes of developments around the Cadia area have played a crucial role in the pub's peak times and closure.

It has the unique status of being the first hotel in the region granted a tavern licence.

PRE-WAR: The hotel in 1939 after an upsurge in mining. Photo: ANU/Noel Butlin Archive

PRE-WAR: The hotel in 1939 after an upsurge in mining. Photo: ANU/Noel Butlin Archive

According to the Tooths' brewery inspectors reports, a history now kept by the Australian National University and the Noel Butlin Archive, it gained the tavern title in May 1972 on a conditional basis before opening properly on June 8, 1973.

The Forest Reefs Hotel had closed in June 1971 after a non-compliance order.

Tooth's first inspection of the pub occurred in 1923 when it was tied to Tooheys for a short time.

HISTORIC: Forest Reefs Hotel in 1949. Photo: ANU/Noel Butlin Archive

HISTORIC: Forest Reefs Hotel in 1949. Photo: ANU/Noel Butlin Archive

Mr A.C. Slattery was licensee from 1931-1951 and was no doubt pleased with news recorded by the Tooths inspector in 1939.

"Reported mine employing 100, started January 1939," he wrote.

Rupert Maxwell, formerly of the Commercial Hotel in Lucknow, took over as owner and licensee in 1951.

COOK-OFF: About 400 people attended last year's camp oven event. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN

COOK-OFF: About 400 people attended last year's camp oven event. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN

The brewery inspector recorded the terms of the sale.

"Up for auction 28-4-51, vacant possession, furnished and equipped," he wrote.

The weatherboard and stone structure had "one bathroom, stables, garage and room."

Trade picked up noticeably throughout the 1960s however, it was headed for closure in 1971 with little trade the year before.

The pub today is renown for its annual camp oven cook off which raises funds for children's charity Little Wings.