It was fitting that The Accidental Australians by Fran Harding was launched at the Hotel Corones.
It was fitting that The Accidental Australians by Fran Harding was launched at the Hotel Corones. Jorja McDonnell

Corones immortalised in The Accidental Australians

STEPPING through the leadlight doors of the Hotel Corones, everything in each of the ornate room tells a story, and if the walls could talk, the would have hundreds of tales to tell.

On Friday, the latest chapter of the Corones story was published, when former publican Frances Harding launched her book, The Accidental Australians, which documents the life of the man behind the hotel, Harry 'Poppa' Corones.

A packed beer garden was waiting for Mrs Harding that morning; all eager to hear stories and celebrate a place and a family that is truly special to Charleville.

These days she's more comfortable on the patrons' side of the bar, but her love for the Corones has never diminished.

"Through his life story, Harry Corones just kept pulling me in, reeling me in like a fisherman,” Mrs Harding said during the book launch.

"Harry Jr said to me earlier, 'Poppa has finally stopped kicking the lid of his coffin, because the story is told'.”

Fran was thrilled to have Harry Jr there, along with Poppa's eldest living daughter, Nina Corones.

"It was a very moving moment for me, particularly because Nina was here.

"I wasn't relying on the fact she would be able to make it, because she is 95, but it made it very special that she was able to see her father's story.

It's here forever now, and is treasured by so many people - you could see that in everyone here, they really value the story.”

Family has been at the heart of the historic pub as time has gone by, whether it be the Corones or the Hardings.

"Well, [the children] they were part of the story too; we worked like the Corones worked,” she said.

"The Corones worked as a family, and that's exactly how we ran the business: as a family.

"Those older boys of mine would get off that Greyhound bus from boarding school and jump straight in behind the bar or into the hall if we had a function to cater for.

"Work and life was blurred here, as it was for the Corones.”

It takes more than a family to run a pub, you also need dedicated staff, and former staff of the Harding era were also in attendance for the event, honoured with a gift of flowers from their former bosses.

"I stay in touch with my old staff... we only connect about once a year, but we do stay in touch.

"Again, they were very much part of the hotel's story too.

"We couldn't have operated if we didn't have really good, faithful staff.”

Now that the book has been officially released, Mrs Harding told the crowd what she thinks the next step could be.

"We've got to make a movie,” she said.

"Does anyone know a good film maker?”

Famous outback pub

Harry Corones was at one time dubbed 'the most famous Greek in Australia', after word spread across the wires about his amazing pub in the outback.

He was also the first Greek man in Australia to have a hotel license.

Over the decades the Corones has been host to many a celebrity, including Princess Alexandra and Prince Henry, as well as pioneers of aviation, because of Poppa's fascination with planes.

Four female solo pilots paid the hotel a visit in the early years of aviation (when it was still quite unsafe) and were welcomed by Harry.

Those women were Lores Bonney, Nancy Bird, Ellie Beinhorn, and Amy Johnson.

In 1990, floods nearly destroyed the bottom floor of the hotel.

It was brought back to life by some very kind tradesmen who knocked on the door during the time Hotel Corones was owned by the Hardings.

While it was vacant for a time, Hotel Corones is currently owned and operated by Bob and Marion Branson.

Originally from Victoria, the couple bought the hotel in January 2016 and opened it that same year.


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