Hamelin Station Stay, first season under Bush Heritage Australia

on 08 Oct 2015 

With the purchase of Hamelin Station in March this year we opened Hamelin Station Stay, ready for a new season under Bush Heritage Australia. Built in 2009, the facility has accommodation for 21 people in eight rooms set in historic shearers' quarters, as well as 30 caravan and camping sites within unpowered bush camp settings, with supporting facilities including communal shearers' kitchen and dining area, a great outdoor BBQ area and modern toilet and shower facilities.

In mid-March the temperature reached 44°C with barely a blade of foliage on the ground, with the winter rain not due till mid-June. On our first day of operation we were off to a stormy start, having to postpone opening due to a very late season cyclone that had crossed Cape York in QLD, flown across the NT coast and tracked down the WA coast. It caused much havoc as it progressed from a category 3 to 2 while crossing over the top of Hamelin Station. It dumped between 50-100mm of rain across the property and even removed a roof from one of the cottages.

At 9pm when the eye crossed over and the wind dropped, we conducted a quick 15-minute assessment around the stay and found an amazing sight – thousands of frogs outside our door, including Mains Frogs, Desert Trilling Frogs, and a third unknown species. We felt very privileged to witness this event. Even after the winter rains came, we haven’t seen another amphibian since.

A few days later after a big clean-up, we were very excited to acccept our first guests and start a new chapter for Bush Heritage Australia.

Our strategy for the season has been to focus on supplying clean, well-maintained facilities in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. We're also encouraging people to experience what Hamelin Station has to offer, to explore the Shark Bay World Heritage Area and the many nature-based opportunities it provides.

We're also focusing on informing our guests about what Bush Heritage is and what it does. We’ve been using signage, maps, pamphlets and an iPad, as well as engaging in face-to-face conversations, to share the Bush Heritage story.

A big part of our role has been interacting with our guests – whether it’s at reception, while we’re pulling weeds from around the facility, or while sitting at the communal dining and BBQ areas. We receive such a huge range of questions, including how we started, to how much it costs to run.

Throughout the season, we've tried to give our guests more of an experience than just a stopover point. We've turned the old shearing shed into a self-guided historical tour that follows the path of the sheep through the yards, into the shearing area with many old relics, including wool bails, wool fleeces, shearing gear and interpretive history of the Shark Bay pastoral era on the walls. 

We've also installed a library of books covering Shark Bay flora and fauna, geology, Indigenous history and culture, as well as European and pastoral history. We have binoculars for our guests for bird-watching, and it’s fantastic to see the kids go to the lake where we've placed more seating, bird resting areas and bird identification charts for the more common birds.

Another very important point of interest that we spend a lot of time promoting is the Stromatolites, which are found right along the Hamelin Station coast. They can be accessed within five minutes via a boardwalk which has information about these very important living marine formations.   

Our hard-working volunteers put in over 400 hours of time on a number of projects, including the shearing shed, rebuilding of habitat in and around the camping and lake area, removal of weeds, pastoral rubbish and equipment, and removal of lots of beer bottles from 137 years of the shearing industry!

As a measure of success, we've received lots of positive feedback from returning guests who could see all the great changes being completed. The weed removal has also helped with a cracking wildflower season around the Station, due to above average rainfall we experienced for the year.

We've found over the season that word of mouth is such an important factor for guests hearing about us and then staying with us. Guests regularly say, “I heard about you and Bush Heritage when we were up in Cape York in QLD”, or “at the Flinders Ranges SA”, so the grapevine is alive and well.

About 70% of our guests were Australian over the June to August period, and the remaining 30% international guests with Germans making up a big percentage of that group. We've just achieved 10,000 guest nights, which is a fantastic effort from our small team and the great support received from the various Bush Heritage work groups. We were very proud to win a Trip Advisor 'Certificate of Excellence award' for our consistent 5-star service and facilities.

This season has been an amazing experience with many challenges as well as achievements. Hopefully we are setting a platform for many more great experiences for our guests and we hope to see you here in the near future.