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.
We have just enjoyed hosting our very talented group of ladies who stamped and created their way through the weekend.
Jessie, our wonderful “Stampin’ Up” demonstrator, had the ladies creating the most beautiful cards, calendars and pictures, including a beautiful 3D dragonfly framed work of art.
Her trusty helper Sarah also created some beautiful paper crafts.
We really enjoy seeing how all our craft groups utilise the workroom so differently, changing the layout to best suit their group’s needs.
The ladies produced gorgeous works of art by day, and Sarah, a local to Loch, showed them some great places to eat and drink – to recharge their batteries so they could stamp and create away for a few more hours.
Most of the group came across on the ferry from Geelong, but top kudos go to Trudy, Jill and Delores who flew down from Sydney for the Stamp Camp – a mammoth effort!
We were touched by the beautiful desk calendar they made for us, as well as a lovely card signed by everyone. The card has gone straight to the “pool room”, which is actually our notice board in the hallway, adorned with cards from previous guests. The desk calendar has pride of place in our office. Thank you Sarah for making the calendar on behalf of the ladies.
As I write this blog, I have just received an email from Jessie, wanting to return to us with her crafty ladies – we look forward to their return visit in September this year.
The brollies go up on what is affectionately known as The Loch Deck Monster here at The Old Hospital.
We welcome our first group for 2019, a group of bowlers who have travelled all the way from Mount Beauty in North East Victoria and tomorrow challenge the Loch Bowling Club on what looks to be a scorcher.
At least it is just a short stroll out the back gate to the bowling club from our accommodation and they can seek respite in our lovely cool air conditioning when the mercury rises.
The greens are looking in top condition thanks to the hard working, diligent locals and should set the scene for an exciting four day tournament.
Although we should be supporting our guests the heart is going for the home team.
We have just said goodbye to our last group for 2018, as we take a break over the “silly season”.
We have been thrilled with the support we have received from all of our groups that have enjoyed their stay with us this year. Many have re-booked to revisit us again in 2019 – some groups are even returning to us twice!
Never did we anticipate such support from such wonderful people and we thank each and every guest for staying with us here at The Old Hospital.
When we opened our doors for business in December 2017, we had hoped to gather about 2 or 3 bookings a month to support our “semi- retirement” phase we thought we were in. Little did we expect that we would have bookings right through the chilly Gippsland winter months (we did have visions of holidaying in our retro caravan up north for 3 months…).
November was our busiest month, with 8 bookings, both mid week and weekends. At times, we had a turn around time of 36 hours, which doesn’t sound too bad, but considering just the two of us had to do the cleaning, bed stripping and making and then the return 1.5hr “linen run” to Wonthaggi and back, we only surfaced to breathe and eat at times.
Although we are now closed for a few weeks, the work here does not stop. Our maintenance list consists of continuing to paint the outside of the house, installing a more energy efficient gas boiler for our central heating system and the perpetual task of gardening – a job that constantly beckons our attention. Naturally, we can’t do these things when we have guests in residence, but we have been able to install our lovely new charcoal grey shade awnings in the large lounge area, which not only provide much needed sun protection for both guests and furniture, but also allow our guests to look through them to enjoy the views of the beautiful hills that surround us.
Then there is some much needed family time for us to enjoy over the Christmas and new year period.
When we re-open mid January, we will pick up an even faster pace, as every weekend until the end of August (and several mid week bookings) will see guests enjoying themselves here at The Old Hospital.
So our little retro caravan will go into the shed next winter – although we may sneak a few days away during some quieter weeks to our favourite secret camping spot…
The recent rain means that the Loch Village gardens will look their best this Sunday November 11th, for the Loch Village Open Garden display. After the weeds have been removed, the selected gardens will open their gates for visitors to admire.
There will be several different types of gardens on display around Loch from 12pm – 4pm. Simply purchase a map from Carrington’s Antiques, Victoria St Gallery or Caroline Askew Art Gallery on the day and follow the “crumbs” to your chosen garden trail. The cost of the map is $5 which includes entry to all of the gardens that will be opening.
This year we have tied the theme in with Remembrance Day.
Loch will host a short memorial service to remember fallen soldiers at around 10.45am at the Cenotaph, outside the old post office on the corner of Smith St & Victoria Rd. Loch Primary School children will be planting knitted poppies – one for each soldier from the Loch and surrounding area, who sacrificed their lives for us to live in peace.
Extra poppies will be available for purchase to either plant or keep as a memento.
At midday, selected garden gates will be thrown open for visitors to admire beyond. A couple of gardens will require a car to reach them, but are well worth the extra effort.
The ladies of the Loch Garden Club have spent many months creating hand made poppies, which have been made into brooches – now on sale around the Village.
Several of the ladies had never picked up a crochet hook, so many winter evenings were spent together at The Old Hospital, wine in hand, teaching and learning new poppy creation skills.
Another night was spent here sewing all the pins onto the 195 poppies we made into brooches and sewing stems onto the beautiful knitted poppies to be planted. The garden club gents made sure the ladies were well fed while they sewed. It was mammoth effort by our little fledgeling club and thank you to everyone for their efforts.
Last Thursday the poppies were placed for sale on mannequins in town – “Poppy” stands in Victoria Street Gallery and in Carrington’s Antiques. We were thrilled to see our creations displayed so beautifully.
Please help to us support fallen soldiers families and drop into these shops to purchase a poppy for $2 when visiting Loch this week. We would love to see visitors enjoying Loch’s gardens on Sunday.
The entire proceeds from the purchase of handmade poppies and garden maps are being donated to Legacy.
For more information visit www.lochvillage.com
Last weekend, in between showers of rain, saw “The Blessing Of The Bikes” on Phillip Island.
The bikes were out, despite the soggy conditions earlier in the day, to converge on the main street of Cowes. The sight was like a bike show in itself – all makes and models to be seen and admired.
It was the pre-pilgrimage to Phillip Island in the lead up to the big day this Sunday – The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
This weekend we hope the weather will be kind and create safe roads to “The Island”, as it is affectionately known.
Early on Saturday morning on GP weekend, around 5,000 motorbikes line up along several blocks of the closed off South Gippsland Highway. Riders wait, drink coffee, chat and generally admire each others bikes. Even if you are not a motorbike enthusiast, you cannot help but be mesmerised by the sight of these shiny beasts lined up, all waiting for the one word – “Go”.
A few minutes before 9am the call comes from the motorbike god (the person on the loudspeaker standing up high in the cherry picker) – “Start your engines”. The sound of 5,000 motorbikes all starting up at once is exhilarating for those standing by watching, as well as the riders and pillion passengers. Having been a pillion on the back several times for this event, it is even more exciting.
At 9am they are off and revving. The cars have no hope of travelling that stretch of road from Cranbourne to Cowes for the next 45 minutes, so they usually just pull over, watch and wave to us kings and queens of the road for that moment in time.
We prefer to ride towards the back of the pack for safety sake (less bikes squashed in) and to enjoy the view up the front – a sea of helmets and every shape and size of motorbike possible. I look out for the few side cars that dare to risk their life travelling inside those ancient contraptions!
All along the road there are mums, dads, kids and grandparents waving as we pass, our checked flag flying proudly behind us.
You do not have to be a tattooed, leather clad Mad Max type to ride a motorbike.
You just have to be someone who loves the wind in their hair (well, helmet), wants to enjoy the smells and the sights of the world from a 2 wheeled perspective and feel you are closer and more connected to nature and the earth.
So we look forward to hearing, then seeing the hundreds of motorbikes that will pass through Loch and we wish them all a picturesque and safe ride to the Grand Prix this weekend.
We wish we could join you this year…….