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…….
The summer edition of Gippsland magazine was delivered personally to us last weekend – thank you to Doug Pell for his personalised service.
The two page story started at the beginning in 1940, going back to the origins of the building in the township and onto 12 months ago, when we took on the mighty project of transforming it into The Old Hospital. Rebecca, our intrepid journalist, visited with enthusiasm and was so pleased to see we had retained quite a few “hospital” features – the old wall plaques, ramps, the nurse call buttons, the rails on the walls in the long corridors and the rails in the shower cubicles, which are of great benefit for guests with disabilities – something many places do not offer. All the while, these old fashioned touches have not detracted from the warm and inviting accommodation which we have worked so hard to achieve – they are indeed complimentary and a charming touch.
Our entrance area is also a reminder of days gone by with a display cabinet of hospital related trinkets that we have squirrelled away, now taking pride of place and is a topic of great discussion to all who visit. Taking centre stage is a beautifully preserved nursing cape and old enamel badges. It’s these quirky little things that get guests chatting about a bygone era. All on display have been collected from Victorian hospitals from the 1940’s era until the present day, as a salute to it’s humble beginning.
Rebecca noted in particular our playful nod to the building – door mats and shower curtains continuing the cross theme, old fashioned galvanised waste buckets, fully equipped retro first aid kit, and our bedside lamps which everybody seems to love – the long gone laboratory style beaker lamps.
We have also paid respect to our little settlements in the surrounding areas, promoting each bedroom with an unusual choice of wall art – an industrial take on these beautiful spots guests may like to explore while they visit our area. Each bedroom is aptly named to match the photography that awaits when the door is opened by guests.
We could not have wished for a more glowing report from Rebecca, and we thank her for her efforts and for seeing our vision for the building so clearly.
The Old Hospital recently installed a secure bike room, allowing a space to house and work on up to 18 bicycles. Featuring hanging space for 10 bikes and floor room for another eight. Also included is a work bench and an area for minor repairs and maintenance.
The Old Hospital’s host, Peter Campbell is a keen cyclist and can share knowledge and maps of the local roads. Peter is happy to suggest rides to suit your group, from sedate short rides to the more challenging. All rides enjoy quiet country roads with great views around every corner.
After the work, there’s rests and play.
Post ride, cycling groups can enjoy a great coffee at one of the local cafes just walking distance from The Old Hospital or retire to the lounge or north facing deck.
A fully equipped commercial kitchen will suit your group’s culinary needs and there is a BBQ on the deck.
Weary riders will enjoy comfortable beds and quality linen. All room have ensuites.
Our conference/activities room at The Old Hospital is set up and ready for guests. We have 12 x 6 foot trestle tables and 20 comfortable chairs which can be configured to suit all situations. The room size of 8.5 x 6.5 meters allows plenty of room for groups of 18 or so people. Also available are the tools to ensure your next business or training retreat is a success, such as wifi projector, whiteboard and large cork board. Community and interest based groups will also find this area ideal for its ambience and natural light. The room looks out through an adjoining sunroom (as seen in the photo). The northerly aspect and garden seating amongst the plants creates a calm and relaxing environment.
Spring has arrived today in Loch Village. It’s a perfect 19 degrees, there’s no wind and the blackbirds are vocal with their springtime tunes. It’s a perfect day for a cup of tea in the north facing sunroom at The Old Hospital, Loch Village.
As we draw closer to our Spring opening, we continue with our photography of the surrounding countryside in search of “industrial themes” as decorative posters in our rooms. The idea again is to theme each room based on a local area, for example our Jeetho room features a large photo of the Jeetho Hall. Not only do these dress the rooms up but they include points of interest our guests may wish to visit.
Saturday saw a brisk zero degree start to beautiful sunny day. The perfect day for a ride in the hills around Loch in South Gippsland. The 60km ride took in some amazing views looking north to Mount Baw Baw and south to Wilsons Prom. I can highly recommend this ride which included slow steady climbs and some exhilarating fast descents. There was little traffic on the quiet country roads and every corner revealed another stunning rural view.
We continue with our theming of the bedrooms at The Old Hospital and have photographed some new local areas to feature as extra large prints in the bedrooms.