Phil and Maz have sold their historic Marree Hotel to Phil and Maria. 

Key points:

  • The Maree Hotel has been sold to Port Augusta tour operators Phil and Maria van Wegen
  • Phil and Maz Turner are retiring after managing the historic pub for 10 years
  • The new owners already run a scenic flight and outback tour company out of the hotel

After 10 years, Phil and Maz Turner have made the decision to let go of their much-loved outback pub.

The Marree Hotel is a beacon for travellers on the fringe of the Simpson Desert, 700 kilometres north of Adelaide at the junction of the Birdsville Track and the Oodnadatta Track.

Mr and Mrs Turner are retiring from their little slice of the outback and handing the reins over to new owners, Phil and Maria van Wegen.

“This is probably the biggest single investment in the hospitality industry in the north of South Australia,” Mr Turner said.

Medium portrait shot of a man in a blue shirt standing on the edge of an outback plateau.

Marree Hotel publican Phil Turner says he and his wife have “loved every minute” of their time at the pub.(

ABC RN: James Vyver

)

Though bittersweet, Mr Turner says it’s time for a change.

Mr Turner said he and his wife took the dive into outback hospitality with no experience,  and will always fondly remember taking the pub from where it was to what it’s become — an outback tourist attraction.

“It’s been a journey, and now the road to Marree is sealed, there’ll be a new era of visitors coming to the far north.”

New lease, new life

Phil and Maria van Wegen, from Port Augusta, say they’re up for the challenge of publican life.

“This isn’t the sort of thing that comes along very often,” Mr van Wegen said.

“We are excited about what this means for tourism in the region.”

A two story building made of sandstone fills the frame, several cars are parked in front

The Marree Hotel has survived floods, drought and the pandemic. (

ABC News: Gary-Jon Lysaght

)

The van Wegens also own and operate Arid Air, a scenic flight and outback tour operation based in Port Augusta that has been operating out of the Marree Hotel since July.

Mark Sutton, the chair of Regional Development Australia, Far North, said the van Wegens would bring a new direction to the famous hotel.

“To have a major investment in hospitality for this region is a critical development for tourism and the local economy.”

Posted , updated 

Phil and Marilyn sell historic Marree Hotel to Phil and Maria
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