A landmark asset at Wellington is gearing up to become an economic driver and community hub once more.
Hermitage Hill’s restaurant is open again after almost a year’s break, complementing its 16-room accommodation offering.
New owners Wayne and Julie Shepherd quickly fell in love with the property “full of history and beauty” and said they could see so much potential.
Recruiting an assistant in the restaurant kitchen for Mr Shepherd, who is a chef by trade, is in their plans for the future.
The business has already provided casual work opportunities for local people, and Ms Shepherd anticipated repeating that in the future.
“With the Bicentenary dinner we utilised about seven or eight of the local community who are now on our books for all sorts of events,” she said.
“We are probably hoping we’d like to employ a trainee chef, so that’s something we’re looking at in the very very near future.”
“We’re starting to get busy now to the point where we do need that extra hand in the kitchen.
“So Wayne’s on the search for that sort of a person.
“Again as the accommodation side, the busier that gets and the busier the functions get there is potential there for employment for part-time cleaners and that sort of thing as well.”
Hermitage Hill began life as the Wellington District Hospital, opening in 1904 and being used until 1979.
The Old Wellington District Hospital makes a major contribution to the townscape of Wellington, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website reports.
“The early buildings are aesthetically significant, being architecturally imposing, and located on a prominent position overlooking the town,” the website says.
“The Old Wellington District Hospital is significant to the community of Wellington having served as the local hospital for around 85 years.”
With Hermitage Hill it was love at first sight for the Shepherds.
The couple, who lived on the coast, had been on the lookout for a motel with a restaurant so Mr Shepherd could return to the fine dining sector.
A few months ago he saw the property online and the next weekend they came to have a look.
“We got to the main gates and looked at each other and said, yes, this is it,” Ms Shepherd said.
“We fell in love with it straight away.
“I think it was only five or six weeks later and we’d signed the dotted line and we were out here moving in.
“We love the town, Wellington’s a beautiful town.
“Lovely people, the surrounds, the country area out here, it’s just ideal.
“The property we now look after is full of history and beauty and there’s so much we can see here that can happen.”
Hermitage Hill hosted the Wellington Arts and Sculpture Festival earlier this month.
The couple is also planning a new event, ‘Music on the Hill’ to take place on October 1.
Taking place from 1pm to 7pm, it will showcase local musicians.
Entry will be free and community members are welcome to come along to enjoy the entertainment and surrounds, and there will be food and drink stalls outside.