The Rabbit Trap Hotel is in Albert, NSW, with a population of just 11, but what it lacks in numbers, it makes up for in hospitality and great meals.
Story By Jenet Stewart
The road to Albert and The Rabbit Trap Hotel is about as picturesque as you could imagine. Set on the Western Plains of New South Wales, the landscape has a fresh, flourishing green appeal, especially after rain has fallen on the productive soils.
Upon entering the township of Albert, the first thing to catch a visitor’s eye is The Rabbit Trap Hotel with its large signage, sturdy timber benches and trees that have been cut and manicured into tables to make room for the shady verandah at the front of the hotel. There are at least 20 or so locals from surrounding farms enjoying a winter ale in the warm afternoon sun. Inside managers Phil and Helen Riley are busy preparing tonight’s camp-oven feed. Cooking in a camp oven is Phil’s specialty and locals and visitors alike drive for many kilometres to taste his food.
Helen uses her creative flare to organise functions, including the beach Christmas party held last year. “People came out of the woodwork,” Helen says. “We sold 111 servings of fish and chips, wrapped in paper of course, to keep with the beach theme. We had beach balls and fancy dress. One local bought a coconut and cut it in half to make his bikini top. The whole community got behind the event. It is the biggest event we have ever had at the hotel.”
Australia Day festivities are big with yabby races and a competition to beat the pub pet, which is an extra large yabby that Phil “spent weeks fishing in local dams to find”. Helen believes Albert is “the only place in Australia where you can draw a circle in the main street and hold a yabby race without being bothered by the traffic”.
The bush-themed King and Queen of Trap Ironman Competition is another a fun event, which requires exceptional skills in eating SAOs and making up a swag. Afterwards Phil cooks up a storm in his camp ovens and visitors stay on for hours.
But it’s not just the food and these events that attract patrons to “The Trap”, as it’s fondly known – there’s music as well, which is provided by locals such as Chris McGuire and Shelly Owen, who both play acoustic guitar and sing, and sometimes turn their hand to karaoke nights.
This story excerpt is from Issue #72
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2010