I sit here writing this in the backyard of my home that I have retreated to for the past couple of months, with the sun shining down on me.
The warmth of the sun’s rays tells me that Mother Earth has enjoyed the space that us humans have reluctantly stepped aside (or should I say “inside”) for it to breathe.
The waters run clear, our cities are enjoying blue skies free of smog and pollution, our flora grows undisturbed and our wildlife have no humans to fear.
Never did any of us expect to be in the situation of recent months.
The world has seen Ebola, Swine Flu, SARS, HIV, Cholera, Malaria, Zika, and with the exception of HIV, these have been in far away places and we only tuned in to other’s sufferings at news time.
COVID-19 has not discriminated – young, old, rich, poor, sick, healthy, First World or Developing countries – it has spread across the entire globe.
Australia had paid attention early to what the world health experts were warning.
The swift action taken by our government meant that we have so far escaped relatively unscathed and our casualties have been very low. Sadly, we have still lost over 100 fellow Australians.
Towards the end of March the social distance ruling of two people finally forced us to shut our doors here at The Old Hospital Loch. Our bookings abruptly came to a standstill. Our turnover became zero, our income stopped. Our work routine ended. The Old Hospital was suddenly a big lonely place to be – the laughter had gone and our car park was empty.
We have been humbled by the support we have received from all of our groups of guests who have supported us during this trying time for our relatively new business. EVERY group affected have chosen to roll their booking over to the same weekend in 2021.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sticking by us and supporting us.
On the positive side, all of the chores we had been putting off for so long were suddenly done!
The garden has been pruned and mulched, fridges defrosted. Every single cupboard has been cleaned and we have a huge donation for Opportunity Lochs, our new Village Op Shop in Loch. Last weekend we were finally permitted to see our daughters we had missed so much during the lock down, especially on Mother’s Day. We also found out that we are to become grandparents for the first time – the best Mother’s Day news any one could wish for.
The sun is shining down on us once again…
So we have now received the green light from the government, permitting us to reopen The Old Hospital at the beginning of June. We are finally back to work.
The size of our property – craft room, dining, kitchen and bedrooms allows us to comfortably meet social distancing requirements.
In addition to our usual cleaning, we are continuing with our rigorous cleaning regime between groups which includes:
- disinfecting all hard surfaces including hand rails, light switches and door handles
- all linen, including towels and bathmats, are commercially laundered off site at high temperature
- complimentary hand sanitiser in our foyer for guest use upon entry
With these safety measures in place, we still recommend each group maintain safe social distancing to ensure a happy and healthy stay at The Old Hospital.
Despite having been closed for business, we have still been taking bookings for 2020 and 2021.
It seems travel and holidays now restricted to within Australia only at this stage, our best kept secret will be out – Loch is a beautiful place to be.
We look forward to welcoming our guests back and can’t wait to see faces other than our own!
Sitting here in our self isolation, we think how lucky we are to be living in Loch Village.
Thank you to all our wonderful groups of guests, many of whom we now regard as friends, for choosing to return to us when we all come “out the other side” of this horrific tunnel of turmoil.
We here at The Old Hospital have taken advantage of our enforced down time and are trying to turn a negative into a small positive.
So we thought we would share our little positive with our many sewing groups.
There is a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) both here in Australia and overseas.
We are now ourselves sewing away to relieve our boredom and are making much needed face masks for our emergency services personnel, who have a short supply of this equipment.
Our are going to be donated to the Wonthaggi Police and Wonthaggi Ambulance.
So here we share for our craft community “family”, our pattern for filter face masks.
Whilst they are not perfect, they are a lot better than no protection at all for our police and ambo’s.
Below is a link to a pattern on You Tube if you would like to support the first responders.
A must is the wire on the bridge of the nose, which allows the mask to fit better to the wearers face.
The mask has a non woven liner, a cotton outer liner (for looks) and has a pocket where the wearer can add another layer of non woven fabric as an extra filter.
It has elastic for the ears, so fits many a face and it is actually quite a good fit – comfort tested by us.
Ours is a little wider than the pattern on You Tube – 23cm width x 20cm high.
We are using non woven sew in interfacing, as it is easy to source and cheap.
The nose wire for us is some green garden twist tie – 23cm long and doubled over for extra strength. You could also use thin wire with the ends bent over so they don’t poke through the fabric.
We have found the elastic is a perfect and comfortable fit at 31cm long – just knot the ends together.
We used cotton fabric we had at home, including calico.
The fabric was pre shrunk – this means that the masks can be reused over and over.
A suggested pre wash cycle of hot water and a gentle spin cycle ensures that bugs are killed, and the wire remains in the right place.
We hope to get as many sewers on board as we can and hope to donate as many masks as we possibly can to those in the community who are working to help keep us safe.
Photo courtesy Dr. B. D Van Praagh www.GiantEarthworm.org.au
Our famous residents have been loving the rainfall we have been having here for the past 6 months or so.
Megascolides australis, better know as our Giant Gippsland Earthworm are as happy as worms in mud.
The triangle between Loch, Warragul and Korumburra is the only place in the entire world where the worms can be found. The highest concentrated area is around Loch and Poowong.
The worms have a purple head and a pinkish grey body, but most of us will hear them more than see them.
A Loch born friend well remembers hearing the loud slurping, sucking, gurgling noise they make when they move underground and retreat down their burrows – it’s a bit like letting the water out of the bath.
They were discovered by surveyors in the 1870’s, who thought they were snakes.
Specimens were sent to Melbourne University, where it was discovered they were very healthy and very big earthworms.
Our legless neighbours are mainly found near creek banks, wet gullies and steep south facing hillsides.
Their habitat used to be thick forests of gum trees, tree ferns and bracken, but most of that has since been cleared to make way for farming. Their burrows can be 1.5 metres deep.
It still remains a mystery how long these creatures live for – they grow very slowly and it is thought they can live for decades. The largest found in recent years was in Loch – it was almost 2 metres long and it’s girth was about as thick as an adult thumb. It weighed almost 400 grams. One worm has even been recorded as being 3 metres long.
The worms eat their way through soil and digest decaying plant material.
Gippy worms are hermaphrodites (both male and female sex organs in one), but fertilisation still requires two worms – so how do we work that one out???
They lay their eggs in spring and summer in burrow ends and can take 12 months to hatch. When they finally do hatch, they are 20 centimetres long – I’m guessing their eggs are a decent size to accommodate them.
Our giant worms are solo dwellers and no one is really sure of how they meet and mate – do their burrows interconnect???…Worm “Tinder”, maybe???…
The high rainfall around Loch keeps their burrows continually wet – they need this moisture to help them breathe and move through the earth.
Our earthworms differ from most other worms – their waste is deposited underground and within their burrows. They are obviously not too house proud.
In 2005 David Attenborough visited the Loch/Poowong area to film these unusual giants for his program “Life In The Undergrowth” and now our beautiful area is famous on the world map of worm habitats – it’s our 14 years of fame!
Megascolides australis is in danger of extinction and is listed as Vulnerable. Slow reproduction, long lifespans, habitat in danger from physical disturbance by farming and changes to water tables all contribute to threaten our underground residents. Local councils now have planning overlays in place to protect our worms from further threat of extinction.
If these worms are dug up and and interfered with by humans, they are very fragile and are easily broken and bruised. Contrary to belief, they do not re grow or form if they are damaged.
Many local farmers are kind to our worms – they have fenced off worm habitat areas and are careful when they plough and cultivate to help these unique creatures survive.
In many ways, I don’t mind the high rainfall we have in Loch – not only is it great for our gardens, but it’s great for our earthworms.
And so I leave you with a thoughtful little poem from the famous Spike Milligan, who taught us to respect our earthworms:-
Today I saw a little worm
Wriggling on it’s belly.
Perhaps he’d like to come inside
And see what’s on the Telly.
We are all breathing a big sigh of relief – October is finally is here!
We have braved the winter months, headed north for some sunshine and hosted many groups of guests who have tucked themselves away in the warmth at The Old Hospital.
Craft groups have created, social groups have socialised, book groups have read while being curled up on our sofas looking outside at the surrounding hills. Some intrepid walkers have braved the wet and headed off to explore the surrounding areas on foot. Many have come to Loch to support our Winteruption – a series of events hosted by the Village, which have enticed visitors to rug up and get outdoors in winter.
As the sun gradually begins to shine with increasing warmth, we all begin to come out of self induced hibernation. Our cafes and shops in the Village are a hive of activity – we are fortunate to now have a great choice of places to dine and discover.
Next to be hosted by our hard working committee of organisers is our Open Garden Day and Loch Village Antiques Fair. This will be a huge day with both events to be held all within a short walk of each other (as is everything in Loch!). There will be around 9 gardens throwing open their gates from 10am until 4pm to proudly showcase their labour of love. This was a huge success last year and won’t disappoint in 2019. Tickets are $5 per adult and purchasers will be furnished with a map of participating gardens.
The Loch Village Antiques and Homewares Fair will coincide with the opening of the gardens and will be held in the Loch Public Hall. Entry will be by gold coin donation. The wonderful Loch CWA will be whipping up as many scones as will be “Knead”-ed (pun intended). Proceeds from the Fair will be donated to the National Centre for Farmer Health – we are proud to lend our support to this worthy cause.
Back by popular demand in December will be the second Loch Makers Market to be held agin over three venues on Sunday December 8th from 10am – 3pm. Stall holder applications are due to close soon and Makers will be announced in the coming weeks. Once again, the gold coin donation for entry will be donated to a worthwhile cause.
Sitting here as I write, I am so excited to be a part of this vibrant little community. Such a tiny place has so much energy and enthusiasm.
Do I miss my former life in the big smoke? – NO!
Will I ever return to the city to live? – NO!
And am I lucky to be living in Loch Village? – YOU BET!
Hot on the heels of the massively popular Food and Wine Festival was the inaugural Maker’s Market, held here in Loch two weeks ago.
Once again, we threw our hat into the ring with the many other volunteers to help make this day another great success. As usual, the organisers worked tirelessly for months behind the scenes to create an enjoyable event.
The town was brimming over with visitors, the streets were full of cars, the town traders were run off their feet and the general buzz was one of excitement. We were blown away by the quality of the wares produced by all the very talented stall holders – such beautiful creations and we were glad they came on board with our first market. We did have a few teething problems, being a first event, but organisers took all suggestions on board and the day ran really well.
It may be that we are a small village of 240 residents, but the community spirit is far larger – all time and effort was given freely and enthusiastically and the proceeds from those that kindly donated their gold coins will contribute to community improvements to be enjoyed by everyone.
Our wonderfull suspension bridge was built with community funds raised about fifteen years ago and it is a beautiful entrance to the Loch Recreation Reserve. We had the privilege to be photographed as a group on our lovely bridge as part of a local wedding held here in March.
The new Sunnyside Park toilet facility is disability friendly and just another example of how our much appreciated support gets put to work. Our visitors can be assured that the Loch Community Development Association continually strives to improve facilities for our visitors as well as our residents.
There is no shortage of people power in our little community – so many locals are happy to pitch in and work together with a big dollop of community spirit. The much needed funding helps us to see our visions for the village come to fruition.
So please come along and support our next Winterruption event – our Open Studios, to be held on the weekend of July 27th – 28th. Our very talented and creative artists will be showcasing their talents in several locations around the village. Visitors can follow the trail to a beautiful display of quilts, gorgeous pottery and amazing works of art. To find out more information, visit www.lochvillage.com
Loch has become world famous for our “Winterruption” – our Food and Wine Festival and our inaugural Maker’s Market….
Well, not quite, but there is “aLoch” happening in our little village through winter.
Loch has developed quite the reputation for the wonderful Food and Wine Festival and is very excited to be hosting the Maker’s Market for the first time this year. We have a small but active Community Development Association who work tirelessly to put our village of around 250 residents on the map.
Most of us are tempted to sit inside by the fire with a hot drink and read a book or two during the winter months – ourselves here at The Old Hospital included.
This June our village will be enticing us to get off the couch, rug up and enjoy what winter has to offer.
On the Sunday of the Queen’s birthday weekend at 10am, the gates will be thrown open down at the Loch Railway Siding for what promises to be an amazing day – the almost world famous Loch Food and Wine Festival.
Visitors entry fee will include a wine glass with which to head off and sample the numerous tastings that must be tasted – wine, bubbly, beer and anything in between (somebody has to do it…)
Of course, one can’t taste test the liquids without food in their stomach. There will be lots of food vendors cooking up a storm, with just about everything you could think of to line your stomach with.
Our railway station platform is hosting a pop up restaurant – this was a hugely popular spot to visit last year. There are also wine and cheese master classes to take in where visitors can learn which cheeses to match with their glass or two of vino.
Children will be kept busy in Sunnyside park with numerous activities, while our four legged friends are welcomed with water bowls here and there throughout. We do ask that you bring your furry friends on a leash.
Our main Victoria Street will also be abuzz with our retailers producing their lovely array of goodies – food, drink, beautiful gifts, clothing, antiques and homewares.
The past thirteen Food and Wine Festivals have bestowed sunny days upon us, so we are hoping this year will be no exception. If not, put on that rain coat and gumboots, hop off the couch and come and join our friendly village on June 9th, from 10am until 3pm for what promises to be great day.
Following our festival our Winterruption Maker’s Market is to be held on Sunday June 29th from 10am – 3pm.
This craft market is to be held in three different venues, all within a short walking distance of each other – the Masonic Lodge, the Loch Hall and the Loch Bowling Club.
More than 50 store holders will be showcasing their gorgeous wares including artisan jewellery, textiles, candles, oils, miniature rooms, fairy gardens, preserves, nougat and cupcakes…
There are also “make and takes” and a huge raffle to be won.
So please come along and support us at our Winterruption events – all funds raised are put back into our community.
Our small village of Loch in South Gippsland boasts its very own police lock up. The small gaol sat in the grounds at number 23 Clarence St, which was the town’s old police station from the early 1930’s until the 1980’s, until a new building was built and still remains in Victoria Rd.
The old lock up was transported from the site (in the 1890’s) of the police station on the North Eastern corner of Mary St and Victoria Rd, which now forms part of the skate ramp area behind Sunnyside park. It was then moved by a team of bullocks into Smith St – to a site leased to the police force in 1898, which adjoined the Loch Hall.
So our little Loch up has had four different sites to call home – the fourth and final site gives it pride of place in the beautiful Sunnyside park – not far from where it all began over 120 years ago.
Felling and clearing of Loch and surrounds began prior to the settlement of the village and continued into the early 1900’s. Settlers received financial remuneration to clear the land and begin farming.
In 1876 Loch Village was a hive of activity. The steam train passed through Loch – so the town needed workers to support the system….Loch needed a station master….and workers…they all had families…..the station master’s residence was built…as were houses for the workers,…. the children needed a school to attend…the women needed supplies…the men needed pubs (!)….and so on, and our village thrived in the late 19th century.
The Loch primary school was built in the 1890’s to educate the children of the railway workers. Then stores and services appeared – a black smith, a grocer, a printer, a post office (now a private residence), two butcher shops (one now forms part of the Loch Brewery), a barber, a sadler, a hardware store, a bakery (now Olive At Loch) and a chemist (now Carrington’s Antiques). Loch even boasted a coffin maker and undertakers. Numerous churches appeared and several still remain today.
Gas street lights on Victoria Road had to be manually lit and extinguished every night. The roads were reduced to mud during the winter months. Horses and carts struggled to make the long journey up the muddy track that was Quamby Rd (now the Loch Wonthaggi Rd), to the big smoke of Wonthaggi for supplies.
Our village also had a coffee palace – it seems we all loved coffee back in 1891 too! Services in the town consisted of several banks, a solicitor, a garage from the early 20th century, stables, sale yards, several pubs (the Royal Hotel is now a private residence), boot repairers, a boarding house, several banks – and again one of those banks is now the Loch Brewery.
Several nurses resided in the village, as did Dr Naylor, whose original residence still stands today at number 25 Clarence St. You cannot miss it – there are two original Norfolk pines, which have endured the test of time, still standing in the front yard. The original hospital was built on the corner of Mary St and Victoria Rd – currently a scrap metal yard.
In 1936 the Loch Progress Association formed committees to raise funds to build the Loch Bush Nursing Hospital, on the original Mary St site. The hospital opened and Dr Naylor was appointed the resident doctor. Within two years maintenance and ongoing costs made the original premises unviable. Again committees were formed, funds were raised and the new Loch Bush Nursing Hospital opened in June 1940 at our premises – 13 Clarence St and currently The Old Hospital Loch Village. Sadly once again, financial woes and increasing medical costs forced the closure of the Bush Nursing hospital three years and eleven days later. Eventually we became the much loved and respected Greenhills Hostel for the Aged, until again, financial pressures forced the closure of the home of many local residents. The Korumburra Medical Centre was run in our now manager’s residence for a while, but the building remained empty until it’s 2016/2017 transition to The Old Hospital Guesthouse, where guests are now enjoying relaxing and taking time out to enjoy some country hospitality.
Wandering around our quaint village today, it is easy to transport yourself back to 1876 and imagine the busy little place it was, as Loch is now a “must visit” destination for many visitors wanting to escape and enjoy all our beautiful village and area has to offer, including the Police lock up at Sunnyside park.
With most weekends now fully booked until early 2020 we are now focusing on promoting our weekday bookings. And what better group to focus on who enjoy our facilities so much – our beloved crafters.
And so our new ad “Get Crafty, midweek” hits Facebook for a two month trial run. An added incentive of a 10% discount (conditions apply) we hope will entice groups of midweek quilters, embroiderers, stampers and sewers. Even book groups and small corporate groups should find The Old Hospital a very convenient retreat within a 90 minute drive from Melbourne.
Probus groups too are included with an article on The Old Hospital to appear in the next issue of Victorian Probian.
Mid week bookings could well join weekends on our website calendar as “fully booked”, so don’t procrastinate – get crafty and book midweek!
Just prior to Christmas we closed for a couple of weeks maintenance.
We continued to modernise the outside colour of the building – a welcome change from a tired cream, indian red and brunswick green colour scheme. Our trusty painter worked tirelessly, dodging the often dark skies and in between the summer rain showers to transform our ugly duckling into a swan.
Our guests are now eating their breakfast on our deck and are enjoying the fruits of our (or rather, our painter’s) labour.
The big maintenance project was replacing our industrial sized LPG gas boiler, which powers our wonderful hydronic heating that the guests all enjoy in the colder months. The old unit was a “half star “ energy efficient, or should I say, inefficient, unit which was around 30 years old. The new boiler has a six star energy rating, and is much more user friendly, – we also hope the LPG refill truck will not be wearing out our driveway so much with his weekly visits to refill our gas bottles.
The plumber has finally finished the installation and this week it has all passed the safety inspections required. Today I paid my first visit to the boiler room for a while – (Peter is far more excited to see this equipment than I am). To me it looks like a NASA launch pad!
There are pipes, valves, gauges, dials, levers, cable ties, insulation, small green things, medium size black and yellow things, and even a big red thing – all too scary and intimidating for me to ever touch.
Now I see why the installation was such a long process – all those bits of the puzzle have been put into place. It reminds me of the game “Mouse Trap”, when I stand at the door in wonder. I just hope the big cream rectangular thingy doesn’t come crashing down like the cage does over the little mouse eating the cheese. The place has been swept so clean that there would never be any cheese or mice inside here.
I have to admit that it is a six star work of art and I am secretly excited for the winter in Loch this year – we will all be toasty warm here at The Old Hospital.
After some cool, unseasonal weather and some much needed rain we see the sun re-appearing overhead. There’s a tinge of green to be seen throughout the rolling hills of South Gippsland. Even the dams look a little replenished.
While we have been away on a short break our little village has been active. A new Italian cafe restaurant is close to completion and looking fantastic.
A new reception venue is open and offering stunning meals and vistas over the hills near Loch.
Another restaurant and shop complex which has been closed for some time has just been sold so it will be exciting to see what the new owners are doing there.
This all adds to the exciting mix of shops, eateries, wineries and brewery that visitors currently enjoy.
The Old Hospital has also enjoyed this transformation and new energy engulfing the village. Our guests might be staying with us to concentrate on their craft work or business retreat but are also enjoying a quick stroll down to the village for a great coffee and cake or a local wine or whisky. They also enjoy visiting the quaint little gift shops, gallery and antique shop as a divergence from their activities.