Cashed up exec snares historic Tarana Hotel

The c1873 Tarana Hotel. Image: Google Street View.

Businessman Byram Johnston and his wife, Deborah, are paying a speculated $5 million for the freehold going concern of the c1873 Tarana Hotel, in the state’s Central West.

The Tarana Hotel trades seven days a week.

The pair approached the owner-operators of six years, Karen and Mark Moyes, with a direct offer.

The Tarana venue, a popular day trip location for Sydneysiders, will continue to trade as is though features including expanded food and wine offerings and regular events, will be introduced.

Mr Johnston co-established and is non-executive chairman of Mainstream Holdings which sold last July for $415m to Apex Group.

Living between Sydney’s Northern Beaches and Gemalla, near Tarana, the businessman and Ms Johnston recently acquired the Tarana café – also known as the Mumma Snow’s Country Kitchen and General Store – tenanted to Anna Snow, opposite the Tarana Hotel.

Six months ago, Arthur Laundy, Mark Dalton and Philip Tudor banked $24m from the Hotel Canobolas at Orange, about 100 kilometres west of Tarana.

Diversifying into hospitality

Mr Johnston is the latest corporate to diversify into hospitality this cycle.

Four weeks ago, we reported the Don Hodge Group, a family business with aviation and trucking interests, added to its growing pub portfolio, with Mount Hutton’s Lake Macquarie Tavern.

Last December, meanwhile, Partners Group Australia, led by Sydney based investment banker Martin Scott, made its maiden pub investment – Newcastle’s Lucky Hotel, which was built about seven years after the Tarana Hotel.

Former KPMG mergers and acquisitions director, Jon Adgemis, is another executive active in the sector, his Public Hospitality Group (which incorporates a company known as JAGA Group) now holding assets worth c$400m, and considering a float.

Mining magnates Andrew and Nicola Forrest, via their diversified investment arm Tattarang, and its property division, Fiveight, have expanded their hotel portfolio as well, with the purchase of Lizard Island, in Queensland, Gaia Retreat near Byron Bay and in Western Australia, Cape Lodge and the Indiana Teahouse.

Hotel Canobolas was also purchased by a partnership comprising Buildcorp founders the Sukkar family.

Johnstons spend again in Tarana

Mr Johnston said the Tarana Hotel is well placed to serve villages in the wider district, including Sodwalls, Meadow Flat, Rydal and O’Connell.

“We are looking forward to working with Kaz and Mark who, during their almost six years at Tarana Hotel, have done a wonderful job in building a strong business that serves the local community as well as weekend visitors,” according to the executive.

“We plan to operate the hotel in this vein and strengthen what is already there – a lively, family friendly destination,” he added (story continues below).

Near Bathurst and Mount Panorama, the Tarana Hotel is popular with car enthusiasts.

“For us, the Tarana Hotel is as much about the strong, local community as it is the weekend visitors”.

Tarana is about a 160kms drive west of Sydney.

“Our focus will be on supporting the community and we see the Tarana Hotel as an integral part of that community,” Mr Johnston said.

“We believe in the future of the Tarana village as evidenced by the fact that we recently purchased the Tarana café and are supporting Anna in her plans for the future,” he added.

New chapter for Tarana Hotel

At 4 Mutton Falls Road, the Tarana pub was developed as the Railway Hotel.

Configured with indoor and outdoor drinking and dining, it trades seven days a week.

Popular with car enthusiasts en route to Bathurst and Mount Panorama (image from the hotel’s Instagram, top and above, right), the site also includes self-contained cabin accommodation.

“Mark and I believe that Deb and Byram will continue to enhance the legacy of the iconic Tarana Hotel,” Ms Moyes said.

“We will continue to run the daily operations and work closely with Deb and Byram on a number of exciting initiatives [for the next 12 months],” she added.

Lithgow mayor Maree Statham said the new owners have already opened a dialogue to incorporate the properties into Tarana’s development as a tourist destination.

“Byram’s extensive business background has enabled him to understand the importance of delivering excellent customer experiences,” she added.

“He recognises that we have, in Tarana, an historic, local hotel, that is both a focal point for the community and an attraction for out-of-town guests,” according to the politician.

“With the ongoing restoration of the railway buildings, the very active Tarana Valley Community Group and an enthusiastic community, the hotel, under the new owners, will continue its proud legacy as the focal point of the Tarana Valley and surrounding districts,” she said.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of