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26 June 2019
By Lotte Reiter
An iconic Wimmera attraction and wildlife sanctuary has been given a new lease of life.
One year after the business went up for sale, the gates of The Little Desert Nature Lodge at Winiam will finally re-open under new management on Monday.
Nhill’s Christa Farinha, alongside husband Daniel and daughters Michelle and Danielle, has taken ownership of the tourist jewel, with plans to continue to enhance the legacy established by Wimpey and Maureen Reichelt in 1969.
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Mrs Farinha said the family would focus on encouraging tourism in the area and providing people the opportunity to ‘return to nature’.
“This lodge is such a unique place that has been here for such a long time,” she said.
“For myself, when I’m here, I feel peaceful. I can feel the energy in the surroundings – it is so untouched. I love it.
“To hear the birds and the noises as the sun is setting, and see possums running up the trees and the sounds of kookaburras – we want to bring people back to nature.”
Mrs Farinha said the family would first re-open accommodation, restaurant and bar facilities, before introducing yearly events and designated wellness retreats such as yoga, meditation and painting.
And while a long-term goal is to promote and market the lodge overseas, Mrs Farinha said encouraging school groups and regional tourists to the attraction would be her priority.
“We have short and long-term goals,” she said.
“It will be about a roll-on effect and ironing everything out as we go.
“It is not going to be an easy feat. We know we’ll have to find our own feet to slowly get it back up and running and in a capacity that is not a loss for us.
“But one thing we want to do is build better affiliation with universities and schools, because a lot of school’s running camps depend on the venue for bush and nature education.”
The Farinha family immigrated to Nhill from South Africa in 2000.
They opened their automotive business Farinha Motors 12 years ago, which will operate as usual.
Mrs Farinha said she was amazed and humbled by the amount of support for the family’s newest venture.
She said the lodge would be their way of giving back to a community which had accepted and supported them from the word go.
“The community has always been very accepting, right from when we first started the workshop,” she said.
The lodge, encompassing 117-hectres of land, is a haven for native wildlife such as malleefowl.
Mrs Farinha said animals, including famed ‘George the emu’, would stay on the property and continue to be cared for.
“We feed the bettongs at night which we think is something exciting for children to see when they visit,” she said.
“It was pretty daunting at first when we visited the property, because the emu came up and had his head on my shoulder, but he is very loving.
“I think he was actually pretty lonesome since the lodge went up for sale.”
The Little Desert Nature Lodge will host an official grand re-opening on July 20 from 1.30pm to 4.30pm for community members.
People interested in attending should RSVP by July 12 by calling Christa Farinha on 0400 465 519 or Michelle Farinha on 0448 997 806.
The entire June 26, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire June 29, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!