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…….
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.
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!
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.
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 Loch Deck Monster is emerging from the back yard of our guest house accommodation in Loch, South Gippsland. Named by our builder due to the sheer size of the deck area which will accommodate up to 18 guests. The new north facing deck is the latest addition at The Old Hospital and includes stunning rural views of the surrounding Bass hills which can be taken in while guests enjoy a drink or a bbq with friends.
Demolition of the old cement ramp commenced two weeks ago involved three men and sledge hammers. Thirty centimetres depth of solid concrete and steel railing was removed and carted away in several loads.
The construction crew were kept well fed and hydrated throughout by Michelle.
Last weekend was a hive of activity with the craning in of our timber and then the arrival of the mini mix cement truck with our delivery of concrete. Before lunch all stumps were cemented into position and ready for inspection.
This weekend saw all bearers and decking completed with just one day left to finish off the railing and steps.
Just in time for those long summer evenings with a cool chardy and a sizzling steak.
Spring is revealing the fruits of our labour through those winter months in our garden at The Old Hospital, Loch Village. We celebrated our first rose of the season last week and this week our crab apple burst into the most beautiful blossom. It’s a great tree as it also delights guests with the most amazing autumn foliage too.
We watched with interest over the past two weeks as our liquid amber transformed from its wintery skeleton into lush foliage, providing our guests with a pretty outlook from the front bedrooms as well as respite from the warm summer sun.
Ajuga, rhododendron and pelargonium are all bursting into life adding to the plethora of colour throughout the garden. It is certainly a pleasure to be relaxing in such a serene and colourful setting.
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.