It’s a beautiful spring morning in our pretty little village of Loch in South Gippsland. As the morning sun reflects off the dew from the previous chilly night on our deck at The Old Hospital, you can hear the kookaburras and magpies stir to life.
Our visiting guests from the weekend – a group of lovely craft ladies that had returned to us – were very creative and produced some beautiful fabric purses and felting work amongst other things. One lady was enjoying her very first craft weekend away with a group and said she had thoroughly enjoyed herself and The Old Hospital “had absolutely everything she needed for her weekend”.
Now that they have left for their respective homes it is down to business – cleaning, vacuuming, stripping and making beds.
As well as our work at The Old Hospital, there is also the community work to get involved in. Sunday morning witnessed a group of dedicated volunteers assemble on the outskirts of Loch to clean out and prepare ground for a tree plating to beautify one of the entrances into our village.
To the sound of tractors and chainsaws, gnarly willows were cleared and pretty soon some fresh plantings will appear. We are very fortunate to have an active and dedicated community.
The village also has recently formed a Social Gardener’s Group. While the focus is primarily social, they organised a Trivia Night to raise funds to plant a new garden at the Loch Community Hall. The group had enormous support from the local community and the garden is now growing. Their next event is the Loch Village Open Garden Day on November 11th, which will tie in with Remembrance Day, and the gardens will open after a short ceremony at the Cenotaph at 11am. The group have crocheted, knitted and sewn poppies to decorate the village and to sell in the lead up to the day, with proceeds going to Legacy. Around eight gardens will be on display and maps will be available to purchase for $5, which will cover entry to all gardens. There will also be some small plants for sale and maybe even a homemade cake or two.
Dig under the surface of our village and you will also find the very active Loch Country Women’s Association, about to host it’s Peruvian day for the Australian CWA’s 90th birthday, with food, crafts and even a guest speaker showcasing a recent motorcycle journey through Peru.
Funds go to helping local families and farmers who are doing it a little tougher than the rest of us.
The Masonic Lodge are another active community group, with a long history in the town. They are a great support base for men who need to share their stories.
The Lion’s club run the Loch Community Market and barbecue delicious sausages and hamburgers on the 2nd Sunday of the month.
These are just a few groups that come to mind, that make up a wonderful community of people who are always there to support each other in times of need, or to just share a laugh and a chat with.
I have them to thank for the fact I can even contemplate writing a post for our website while holidaying in Vietnam, let alone being able to check bookings, reply to enquiries, mark off payments and send invoices.
It may start to sound like not much of a holiday but all of this only takes an hour of the day and at 36 degrees with high humidity here in Hoi An, Vietnam, retiring to the air-conditioned room for a short break during the heat of the day is quite okay.
Things are as easy here as hooking into WiFi wherever we go – airports, our hotel, cafes, bars and even the most basic of street food restaurants and mini marts. Asia is so tech savvy, although connectivity can sometimes require the patience of a Buddhist monk.
Over the many years of our travels through Southeast Asia, we have stayed in some pretty remote areas. Most houses in these villages are very basic little huts, where three or four generations eat, sleep and socialise together in the same room. But there on the roof is a massive satellite dish, inside is a big flat screen TV, the whole family are on the internet (even grandma), and everybody has a mobile phone.
Almost 10 years ago we spent a couple of nights out in the middle of Halong Bay on a “junk” boat with two teenage daughters. Our eldest was happily texting her boyfriend from way out yonder on the water – thank goodness she had connection or we may have had to live with the consequences if she could not reach him.
Another time we were on a catamaran in rough seas on the Lombok Straight and as the waves washed over the bow and inside the boat, the said daughter was texting the said boyfriend again, telling him she was drowning – to be fair to her she probably panicked a bit when they played the theme from Titanic over the loudspeaker!
We have been lucky enough to escape the winter for a couple of weeks and leave the running of The Old Hospital with good friends. It has been an interesting mix of emotions leaving the guest house in the hands of someone else – (a bit like handing your baby to a babysitter for the first time), with the added thought they may just do a better job than us!
As we arrived at the airport (and checked our e-mails, Instagram, Facebook pages and What’s App’d the kids), we put our concerns behind us and were suddenly excited to be going on holidays. We knew that in the unlikely event our trusty relieving managers encountered a problem, we were only a mobile call, text, email or What’s App or Skype message away!
Thanks be to Tim and Steve.
Preparations are well underway for an evening with Melba Opera Trust next weekend in Loch. Saturday 18th at the Loch town hall is building to be a gala evening. The village is frocking up for the black tie evening and with supper provided and drinks at bar prices no one will go wanting.
Dame Nellie Melba GBE (1861 – 1931) was Australia’s first world famous opera singer and one of the greatest celebrities of her day. Born in Richmond, Melbourne she moved to Paris and went on to enjoy an enormously successful career as a prima donna in Australia, England, Europe and the United States during the 20th century.
When she died, Melba bequeathed a generous amount of money dedicated to the development of young opera singers “so that another Melba may arise”. This unique and direct legacy from Melba is strengthened by the continued patronage of her late granddaughter Pamela, Lady Vestey which continues today through Melba’s great-great granddaughter, The Hon. Saffron Foster.
Melba’s gift established the Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship, which still exists today with Melba Opera Trust.
Tickets are still available at trybooking.com/399746 so if you feel like a fun, formal evening out, we’ll see you at the opera.
A drive through the pretty hills around Loch Village in South Gippsland is rewarding not only for its picture postcard views but also the many gourmet delights on offer.
Guests staying at The Old Hospital have a plethora of options supplied by their hosts Peter and Michelle Campbell.
One option may take in the back road from Loch to Poowong and onto a single lane bitumen road winding its way through the Bass Valley where a wallaby or two can be seen. Onwards through the hills towards Jumbunna, dropping in to Prom Country Cheese for a morning tea platter. On a Sunday you can catch the Kongwak market and its quirky retro goods, food and fine coffee. From there a quiet country road leads on through the hills to the Kernot Store for a late lunch of delicious wood fired pizza. A short drive back towards Loch, popping in to the Gippsland Wine Company and Loch Brewery & Distillery for refreshments.
At the end of the day guests can relax, enjoying the comfortable facilities with friends while self catering or choosing to indulge with a fully catered package.
And this is just one day at The Old Hospital Loch!
But there is no sound of music. Just the peace and tranquility of NOTHING AT ALL – only the occasional sound of kookaburras and other birds, happy as we are to be living in South Gippsland.
Eighteen months ago, we decided it was time for a tree change. We had sold a business in the city, travelled far and wide, and generally took time out to smell the roses. All we could smell was gum trees.
The opportunity arose to create a life for ourselves in the country. So we took the bull by the horns, bought an old hospital, moved to Loch Village and the rest is history.
When all things “renovating” (i.e converting the building and dealing with all the permits required), overwhelmed and consumed us, we would take the afternoon off and head off to explore the surrounding hills. As we came upon a beautiful spot somewhere in the South Gippsland back roads, we would turn off the car’s engine and just sit and listen – to nothing, or maybe the distant moo of the odd cow. We were happy to get lost driving those endless remote roads of peace and tranquility. We reminded ourselves that this is why we made our tree change.
Even in our little village, the few cars, motorbikes, tractors, and cattle trucks that we do get passing through from time to time, all disappear upon dusk. Most times in Loch village “peak hour” means not one car to be seen in the main street – and that is what we love about the place! Nothing at all.
Sure, we head off to the city to visit friends and family, go to appointments and do the necessary shopping run, but when we turn off onto the South Gippsland Highway and look towards Nyora across the paddocks with dams and beautiful forests of gum trees, we breathe a sigh of relief – we relax and we are almost home.
Home to nothing at all.
The first 6 reasons were recently published in The Sydney Morning Herald.
The 7th reason is that there is great accommodation for groups of up to 18 at The Old Hospital in Loch.
We have had a stellar start up to our first year of guests choosing to stay with us. We have now taken bookings up until May 2019 – mostly from guests who rebook before they leave us. Our very first booking was taken way back in September 2017, when several of the group members came to visit us. We were in full throes of renovation, so the place was not looking it’s best. The group of wonderful ladies could share our vision and enthusiasm and finally came to stay with us a few weeks ago. They were delighted with the end results – thank you Rhonda and friends for your support.
In the summer months the entire building is cooled by fans and air conditioners. In the depths of winter our accommodation is warm and cosy, heated by a wonderfull hydronic system and backed up by reverse cycle split systems.
Some guests have chosen to self cater, but many have taken up the option of our catering service provided by Not Just Tarts. The food is gourmet standard and the choices are endless. The cost of our catering compares with less than the cost of a pub meal and is extremely good value. They are happy to offer full catering, where guests are waited on and don’t have to worry about the clean up. Alternatively, they now offer a “Heat & Serve” option, where food is freshly prepared on our premises prior to guests arrival and is left in the fridge with full instructions for guests to reheat when they are hungry.
Our guests wander down to the cafes and shops in the town several times during their stay with us. This benefits our local traders and encourages others to visit and stay awhile.
The Old Hospital offers free wifi throughout our large building, which guests have the exclusive use of.
For an extensive Heat & Serve PDF menu, visit our website
Is this how you want to be remembered?
Do you want to escape all the hype of the Grand Final weekend?
Are you going to be deserted by your partner?
Would you prefer peace and tranquility?
The Old Hospital together with Not Just Tarts, is offering a special “Footy Avoidance” weekend for those wanting to escape it all on the AFL Grand Final Weekend.
We are offering a Gourmet Getaway Package, so you can escape, relax and ponder your non-footy thoughts with a few fellow escapees and a glass of wine.
You will enjoy two nights of warm and comfortable en suite accommodation at The Old Hospital, which your group will have exclusive use of. Our fabulous catering team at Not Just Tarts will supply an extensive menu for your groups selection. Your gourmet choices will consist of 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners, with complimentary desserts and sides. These will be freshly prepared for you just prior to your arrival and ready with full “Heat and Serve” instructions.
We are pleased to offer this great value all inclusive price of $249 per person (twin share).
If you wish to have a room to yourself, please add an extra $44 per person.
This offer is only available to one group of 6 to 18 adults (18 years and over) for the 28th to 30th September 2018.
Contact us on 9597 0137 to book your “Footy Avoidance” weekend.
P.S We do have a TV if you want to check the footy scores!
Guests at The Old Hospital have been leaving some lovely Reviews, such as this recent one on TripAdvisor.
“Our group of 9 girls were delighted to have our own rooms, each with ensuite bathroom, and the beds were extremely comfortable. Showers and heating were also great. Sleeping areas are in a separate wing – so no chance of being disturbed by others. Lots of lovely spaces: including sun lounge, BBQ area, large deck, large sitting and dining area.
Extroadinarily well-equipped kitchen, with everything you could possibly need and lots of extras supplied, such as kitchen towel, cling wrap, sugar, tea etc. We even found a wide variety of cheese knives/cutters for our cheese platters.
The views of the rolling countryside from the lounge and dining room windows are very pleasant. The owners Michelle and Peter were very welcoming and pleasant. They were also very responsive and helpful whenever we had any questions or needed help.”
Thanks Anne and your book group friends.
Last month saw the arrival of Royalty at The Old Hospital.
The “Regal Rubies” bestowed a visit upon us for the weekend.
This group of energetic ladies are a division of the Red Hats – a ladies social group that has world wide affiliation and has gathered enormous momentum across the globe.
The “Rubies” were gems to host and dazzled us with their energy and enthusiasm for just having a good time. Each day they were off visiting local gardens, friends in the area and food & wine producers for a taste of what South Gippsland has to offer.
The Rubies were fit and active ladies of middle age and beyond – the most senior member of the Rubies was a tap dancing nonagenarian – just as elegant as Queen Elizabeth herself, but with a lot more fun and laughs than would be found beyond the walls at Windsor Castle.
In keeping with Royal protocol, they had invited four VIP guests to dine with them on the Saturday evening. The lucky VIP guests were two locals who were friends of the Rubies, and Peter and Michelle, the Rubies fortunate hosts for the weekend.
All guests were wined and dined on beautifully Royally red tablecloths, fine bone china, silver cutlery, and crystal glassware.Actually, I embellished that bit – we had red nylon tablecloths, everyday china, cutlery and glassware was the order of the evening, but we felt very special.
Our brains were then put to the test with a cryptic quiz – Michelle scored top points and won the major prize of two mini Easter eggs and the glory of being the first place winner.
We had the most enjoyable evening being invited as the groups guests, and served a delicious meal, in our own surrounds.
Thanks to the Regal Rubies for delightful company – we will be rolling out the red carpet for their next visit!
The Old Hospital has just opened the booking calendar for 2019 and bookings are starting to come in so if your group is thinking of a getaway in 2019 please book early to avoid disappointment.