What’s a Broken Hill bloke to do when he has a big picture vision for a reptile park, but nowhere to build it?
Ashley McInnes is a local miner on a mission to create a reptile exhibit and museum to help educate residents and visitors to the region all about reptiles.
Working fulltime underground, Mr McInnes also has a handyman business and volunteers his spare time racing about the Silver City saving snakes.
Back in February, the Barrier Truth ran a story about Ash’s dream of establishing a reptile park but despite his dedication to conservation and education, and determination to purchase a property where he could bring his idea to life, he’s no closer to getting started.
To help, we’re calling on the community to help him bring his vital vision to reality.
As the only dedicated reptile exhibit in the district, Silver City Reptile Exhibit and Museum (SCREAM) Pty Ltd intends to deliver an interactive experience to visitors – particularly tourists and school groups – with the model proving very popular in other regions.
“There’s so many vacant buildings on blocks of land around Broken Hill that I’m prepared to transform into a popular tourist attraction, but for some reason people aren’t keen to sell them so they continue to sit abandoned often in need of repairs,” Ash told the Truth when we caught up for a chat about his SCREAM dream.
“There are a few ideal properties around town and outside of town but for some reason people and organisations are reluctant to sell them for a range of excuses, which is frustrating when you’re a motivated bloke with funds trying to kick-start an important project for the Far West.
“Yes, I could rent a site, but property owners are expecting me to fix their buildings and/or fences in return for a few months of cheaper rent but the numbers just don’t add up, making their offers unrealistic for me to accept.”
Ash’s passion for reptiles has led him to acquiring all the necessary licenses, including the highest class of licence to handle even the deadliest snakes. He told us most snake bites occur when people or pets are attempting to kill the snake.
“If I charged a fee for snake relocations, some people would choose to kill the snake rather than call me, so I prefer to provide a free service to help prevent people from being bitten, but also to stop snakes from being harmed by reactive people or pets,” said Ash.
“There are currently no government grants available even though SCREAM is to do with tourism and public education and awareness around endangered species.
“And I want to be clear, this isn’t going to be a passive tourist experience; it’s going to be a fully interactive reptile park including night tours where people can hang out with nocturnal reptiles and get hands-on with ‘sleepies’ including blue-tongue lizards, bearded dragons and so on.”
If you can help Ash to secure of forever home for SCREAM, give him a call on 0448 873 666.
If you’d like to donate to help the SCREAM dream become reality head to https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-far-west-needs-a-reptile-exhibit-and-museum