The Secret’s out at Secret Creek

Esther BeatonConservation, On the Beaton Track

Once upon a time, in a deep gully, protected by rocky wooded slops, lived a quiet community of coal miners. Today, apart from a few stones marking the ruins of their homes, lives an equally quiet community of local residents. But these aren’t human. They are secretive mammals, little known and little seen by most Australians, and most of them are seriously endangered. The only human residents are their caretakers: Trevor Evans and his family, and the daytime staff who come in as volunteers to “muck out the poo” and otherwise keep the animals happy and health.

But I’m not being entirely accurate. There are other human visitors. An additional staff come in four days a week to prepare gourmet dishes – several based on native Australian ingredients – for local residents of Lithgow and the Blue Mountains.

Not only does Trevor Evans have a big conservationist’s heart – big like his muscly coal miner’s hands – but he’s got a brilliant mind as well. He conceived the ingenious plan of opening a restaurant and using the proceeds to support the conservation of his favourite Australian animal, the Eastern Quoll. It was such a surprise to me, after winding up the narrow road to his sanctuary last Sunday, to find the restaurant packed with sixty diners.

I hope you too find the track to this secret spot. You can then proceed to eat your way towards helping to repopulate the southeastern slopes of New South Wales once more with the feisty little Eastern Quoll.