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Our stories

The Clarence Valley - a chapter in the story of your life.
4 January 2019

The long way home to Grafton's Rosary BnB

Pat Lyons shares the tale that led her and husband, Mick, to take ownership of The Rosary BnB.

Mick and I are both UK born, but we’ve been here just over 12 years. We’d been living in Dubai for a year when Mick’s work took us to Mackay. I thought I was going to die when I looked out the window of the airplane at the city below –it was a bit of a culture shock. 

Until you get here you don’t realise how far away everything is from each other. Back in England, a two-hour drive was a day trip. In some places in Australia you drive that far just to go to the shops.
But we’ve grown to love it, and have now lived all over Australia - in Gladstone, Brisbane, Darwin and Coffs Harbour. I love moving so it didn’t bother me in the least. That probably stems from when I was a teenager. I was born in Essex, and grew up in Clacton-on-Sea. When I left home I used to drive ‘round with friends, and wherever we landed we found work.

Later, when our son was little, we moved around England a lot for Mick’s work. Our son stayed when we left and moved to Ireland in 2002. I still talk to my son all the time, but we don’t miss England at all.   
Mick and I came to Grafton just over a year ago - they transferred him down here to work on the highway. We had been toying with the idea of buying a motel for quite a few years but they’re very expensive to buy. This just happened to come up at the time.

I like that it’s different to anything we’ve lived in before. The place dates back to 1905; at one stage this house was the only one on the whole square block. 

I’ve been told it was owned by the Hockey family, and either the brother or the son really loved roses. There’s probably about 100 on the property when you count them all, and we’ve thinned out the garden quite a bit. The guy who planted them all used to open the gardens up to the public once a year, and he’d give free bouquets to all the brides. 

It was already the Rosary Bed and Breakfast, so we just took it over and tidied it up a bit. If we’re really busy my husband Mick will help out, but I manage most of it on my own.

I’m just starting to get into a routine, and getting to know the regulars who stay here. Hopefully when we get more settled here, we’ll have a bit more time to go out on the motorbike.

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be sewing. Small things drive me mad but anything that’s big, like blinds or awnings, I enjoy doing. While I was in Darwin I sewed with a disability service and really enjoyed that.   

Grafton is probably the smallest town we’ve lived in, but we’ve found that the people are really friendly and it’s busy at Jacaranda time. With the highway work going on for a few years, I think we’re staying put this time.

Photo: Gary Parker

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