- YHA Locations
Tara - We've come over from South Australia to take up this role, but the Grampians have always been a big part of BJ's life, and more recently for me too. BJ had many holidays here when he was a child, and since we met 11 years ago, we've brought my boys here often.
I’ve worked in a number of different fields in my life, but I’ve found my passion working in disability and I’ve brought my existing role with me to Halls Gap (where I’ll conduct my role remotely). BJ has worked in a lot of unexciting government roles, but has been a YHA member since his early 20s and has loved staying in hostels all through Europe! He was even on the South Australian board for a couple of years, and you might find a couple of articles he wrote in old editions of Backpackers Essentials!
We spent our wedding night at the Port Elliot YHA and most of our honeymoon in NZ saw us stay at HI hostels, too! So, while we don’t have much experience in accommodation provision, we have a lot of love for YHA and we’re looking to learn as much as we can. And, most of all, we’re confident that we’re going to love every moment!
BJ – I’ve always loved the idea of running a hostel, but we didn’t expect to get the chance just yet! We saw this as a great opportunity to learn something new and to settle into a job we really felt we could truly enjoy together.
When I stayed at the Apollo Bay Eco YHA back in 2009, I spent a long time talking with Gilbert, who was managing the property then. His description of the hostel manager’s role really struck a chord with me – he said “you have to have the attitude that you live at home, and that you just happen to have an enormous number of spare rooms, and that you have lots of friends come and stay with you and you just ask them for a little contribution towards their stay”. We both really loved that idea, and we decided that now was as good a time as any to throw our hat in the ring.
We have to say, too, that the previous managers, Kellie and Gary, were very good to us as well. We stayed here in 2017, and one night we retired to the lounge with Gary and a glass of red, and asked him about how we could get our foot in the door. He suggested we write to a few hostels and offer our services as relief managers, which we actually ended up doing for them the following Easter. We think they might have given us a bit of a rap to the higher ups, and lo and behold, we’re here! We know that they did a MAGNIFICENT job here and we have enormous boots to fill, but we’ll give it our best shot.
It's not been the easiest decision to leave family behind. Tara’s sons are in Adelaide and my mum became a widow in the last four months, and she’s now so much further away too (in South Australia’s mid-north). However, I’m certain that Dad, who was responsible for so much of my love for the Grampians, had some kind of a part upstairs in us finding ourselves here. So, that feeling of ‘it was meant to be’ is hard to ignore.
Tara - Well, it’s been a favoured place for BJ’s family for years. He’s not entirely sure of how many times he’s been here before this move, but it would be at least a dozen. There’s even a picture of him somewhere playing trumpet as a 13 year old on the Pinnacle, above Halls Gap! He was born in the country but moved to Adelaide in his late teens, so to return to a favourite country location is just a beautiful thing for him.
It's fair to say that I was tiring of life in the burbs too. When we’ve gone to stay with BJ’s parents on weekends, I’ve just fallen in love with the peace and beauty of South Australia’s mid north (if you haven’t gone, put it on your list!). And, there is peace and beauty in abundance in the Grampians! Plus, I’m at my happiest when I’m at a waterfall, and we’ve got a few of those here too! It’s the Grampians, people. If you were given the opportunity to live here, you wouldn’t pass it up, would you?!
BJ - It is a pretty special building, isn’t it? We’re biased towards loving it because of all of the reasons we’ve explained above, but the whole package is just glorious here. This week, the fruit trees have been blossoming and that makes for a pretty special frontage, but the whole front area, with the pond, the various tables and benches and the regular visits from kangaroos and kookaburras makes it pretty beautiful. Plus, there’s Simone, Michelle, Emma, Justine, Maria, Mabel and Evoletah, the hostel chickens (if you know your Mick Thomas songs, you’ll know where five of those names came from), and the gorgeous lounges; the perfect spot to unwind after a long day walking in the Grampians.
I remember saying to Tara in 2018, when we relief managed that Easter, “I will change every bed in this hostel every day of the week if it means I can sit out here and have my lunch looking at these mountains”. It’s not a bad price of admission, is it?
Tara – Naturally, BJ will tell you northern South Australia! But beyond western Victoria, we both have a soft spot for Tasmania. In our time together we’ve been to every state of Australia and we really enjoyed Perth, Margaret River and Rottnest Island too. We went to a wedding at Port Douglas when we first met, and that was a lovely trip. BJ also loved getting up to Cooktown, a place that he’d been fascinated by as a kid.
Tara - We were supposed to be overseas right now! That time will come. I’ve been to England and America over the last five years to spend time with family, and that was wonderful. With BJ, I’ve been to New Zealand twice in the last decade now and I love that country deeply. We’re keen to go back and explore the North Island in depth.
BJ has always told me that he wants to take me to Iceland, where he went almost 20 years ago. His father was from the Black Forest in Germany and so he’s pretty keen to get me there too. And he wants to watch test cricket in New Zealand and South Africa too! His love for HI hostels was born on his first trip to Europe as an adult in 1994, and he stayed in dozens all across the continent. When we get there, we want to spend a few weeks in Germany, drinking in the places he’s always known, and a few new places too!
BJ – It's a bit of a dream for me, and the location is just stunning, but beyond that, it’s the people that we’ll meet! I think that’s really the main attraction in many ways. It’s a great town, a great location, a great building, but it will be great to share the place with people and hear their experiences and to learn from them. And it’s going to be wonderful to have the opportunity to run the place together. It’ll be a lot of fun, we’re sure!