When Jeanette and I stayed at the Naracoopa Cottages (King Island) in 2009 we experienced exceptional hospitality from our hosts John and Rhonda. For this reason I contacted the couple to ask them how they do it and a bit about themselves. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written from their extensive notes and I thank them for giving me the opportunity.
John and Rhonda: Naracoopa Cottages
John’s brother, Bert, works at the hospital on King Island and so does Rhonda. About eleven years ago, Melbourne based John decided he needed a sea change and asked his brother if he could find him a date! As in every romance, John met Rhonda they fell in love and married not long after.
I observed their love for each other. Every morning John opens the front gate for Rhonda as she leaves for work. He keeps the home fires burning and in the evening he opens the gate and greets her as she returns.
Naracoopa Cottages: New Lease on Life
It was a wrench for John to leave a good job in Melbourne, his son and his dog (Mojo), but it was something he had to do. Initially John worked a variety of jobs and lived at Rhonda’s house in Currie, but he was keen to move elsewhere. One day they were driving along the Esplanade in Naracoopa. They were aware that the Naracoopa Cottages had been on the market for years and the owner had recently lost her husband. Noticing how run-down the buildings were, John sensed the time was right to make an offer. The offer was accepted and the refurbishing began.
John devoted all his time to the repair and restoration of the buildings and the garden. In his spare time, he looked for ways of increasing business. He taught himself how to use a computer; he designed a website and learned the tricks to getting his business on the first page of Google.
All this time, Rhonda kept going in and out to the hospital job and John opened and closed the gate with Mojo, not far from his heel. Love Is!
John and Rhonda Meet Charlie
One day, Rhonda had the brilliant idea of decorating the front lawn with a boat and jetty. To her surprise, John and his son set about the project by acquiring an old Aurora Energy power pole for a slab of beer. Abalone fisherman, Robert Jordan, had a leaky boat that couldn’t be fixed and then along came Charlie!
John bought Charlie on eBay. She was the most attractive mannequin he could find. She arrived by King Island Airlines and she turned plenty of heads as John drove his naked passenger up and down the main drag of Currie doing the macho thing: blockies! King Island is a small place and news travels fast. The phone began to ring as Rhonda received reports of her husband’s new lady friend.
Charlie now sits on the jetty next to the boat on the lawn. But John decided to dress her as a man to deter the local young bucks who seem to be interested in anything in a skirt.
Over to You John
One of the great things about running the Naracoopa Cottages is the amount of really nice people that cross our paths. We try to be as friendly and helpful as possible to our guests but are also aware and very mindful of the fine line between being friendly and invading their space.
Last year we won two awards (showing off now!):
- Winner Westpac Business Excellence Awards for Tourism 2011
- Winner Westpac Business Excellence Awards for Customer Service 2011.
Naracoopa Cottages are also Number One for King Island with Tripadvisor reviews.
Rhonda and I also do our bit as volunteer members of the Naracoopa Progress Association. We keep the foreshore areas clean and tidy, procure and erect playground equipment, foreshore seating, signage etc.
King Island Birds and Wildlife
We are striving towards being self-sustaining with a healthy orchard and vegetable plot, but are forever having problems with the wildlife versus our garden: 1600 people; 600,000 wallabies, innumerable possums… Oh well, I guess we share! The wildlife is so abundant.
I also became quite interested in birds because of the variety of bird-life on our property to the extent of developing a website on King Island birds. There is an interesting article about saving the whales beached at Naracoopa a few years ago.
John and Rhonda Meet Julia Gillard
The prime minister even came here last July. It was about 8:00am on a Saturday morning. It was about the carbon tax issue: she inspected our solar and wind power installations. She must have been up fairly early to be here at 8:00am, considering the time it takes to fly here.
I have another photo of her and I and it looks like we’re coming out of the pub in Currie! I sent it to friends and family with the caption ‘Jules and I on a pub crawl’. In real life she comes across as a genuine and nice person.
With over 600,000 wallabies on the island, you can now understand why John has to open and close the gate to Naracoopa Cottages!