The story of Port Elliot YHA begins with the ever-enterprising Jill seeing her opportunity and grabbing it with both hands. Starting her time at YHA as a receptionist helping eager visitors enjoy all the best parts of the peninsula, Jill’s ears pricked up when she heard that the previous managers were finishing their time at the property. Grabbing husband Graham, the pair leapt into action as the new manager of the beachouse, providing the warm welcome and incredible family atmosphere that the Port Elliot YHA is now famous for.
In the words of Jill, "as locals and ex-farmers with a very large family, we felt we had the knowledge, experience and skills that are useful in this role. The ‘family’ nature of this kind of hospitality work is a perfect fit for us!"
According to both Jill and Graham, the mixing and mingling with new arrivals is by far the highlight, “We love the fact that the people who use our hostel come here with the intention of engaging with other people – they want to socialise – so do we!” they said. The most challenging part of the job? “Trying to remember everyone’s names!”
The beachouse has had a long history as a guesthouse, with many visitors returning to their childhood holiday destination, to find it well preserved but with a modern flair. For Jill and Graham, it’s a chance for guests to “remember this place from their childhood, and relive fond memories of previous holidays here.” With one of the most iconic beach destinations of the state, Horseshoe Bay, within walking distance of the property, it’s no wonder people keep returning year on year. Additionally, Jill and Graham make sure to mention its other charms, “The surrounding area boasts fantastic wine and food regions, surfing heaven, and a whale nursery!” Jill’s favourite activity close to the property is a sunset stroll along the clifftop paths to nearby Victor Harbour, where the photo of the two above was taken.
As for the property itself? The couple will sing its praises! “The hostel building is charming with an old-world feel that reflects the warmth and charm of a typical early 20th century beachside guesthouse – right out of an Agatha Christie novel! The wooden floorboards and staircase have the worn feel of thousands of happy feet as you run your hands over the hand-smoothed staircase bannister rails. With 12-foot ceilings the guesthouse provides a beautiful inside climate throughout the year, regardless of the outside conditions.”
When the outside conditions are wonderful, even a stunning beachouse can’t keep you indoors – thankfully Jill and Graham have some great recommendations for exploring the area. “The Murray Mouth and the Goolwa Wharf should be on everyone’s list as is a trip to Urimbirra Wildlife Park to experience koalas, kangaroos, reptiles and other native Australian animals and birds,” they said, “no trip to Port Elliot is complete without an excursion to Granite Island, either on the horse drawn tram or simply a walk across to meet the little penguins on a guided tour. Lots of our guests use our hostel as a base from which to go surfing or fishing, and for some the great adventure of swimming with tuna is irresistible!”
An extra bonus? Some of the best pubs and restaurants are within 5 minutes’ walk from the front door, so you can treat yourself to a dinner, a bevvie, and waddle back to your cosy accommodation.
Jill and Graham can guarantee a warm welcome (but no hugs anymore!) and a memorable stay for all the best reasons, with their hospitality extending out to all who walk through their doors.