By Ellen Hill for Lithgow Workies Club Photos: David Hill
From the entry ramp into the club and lifts between floors to the ambulant bathrooms and wide doorways and throughout the property, Lithgow & District Workmen’s Club is accessible to all.
The new motel at the oldest registered club in NSW, affectionately known as “the Workies’’, sports stairless access to all areas of the club and motel for people who use a wheelchair and ambulant disabled users.
The two accessible motel rooms for people with a disability and their carers (one on the ground floor and one on the upper which is accessed by a lift near the two access parking spaces) are spacious including the bathrooms.
Visitors can access the motel via ramps throughout the property, and all doors are wide enough to cater for wheelchairs.
Lithgow Workies Club general manager Geoff Wheeler said the design of the new 36-room 4-star motel and associated works including an art gallery, refurbished showroom, restaurant and conference centre, aimed to be accessible to people with a disability but also elderly people and parents with prams and small children.
“A lot of our members and guests may not use a wheelchair but they might have walking frames and walking sticks so they need as clear an entrance as they can get.
“There’s no steps here: you can come up the ramp at the front of the club, there’s lifts between floors and, in the main club itself we have accessible bathrooms.
“We’re providing first-class facilities for all ages. I don’t think there should be a difference between the facilities we provide for someone who is disabled and someone who is fully able bodied.’’
Providing a fully accessible motel and club for people of all ages was part of the club’s ethos of providing excellent community and customer service, Mr Wheeler said.
“It’s about looking after one another.
“People come here to enjoy themselves, and part of that is a relationship between the people that serve them and look after them. Our staff are aware that excellence of service is required at all times.
“If you don’t want to be pleasant and smile and be happy, hospitality is not the right industry for you.
“But it’s not just about being happy. It’s about providing a safe and accessible environment for our members and guests.’’
Lithgow Workies Club had also implemented chemical-free cleaning wherever possible for the wellbeing of guests and staff.
“It makes sense: we don’t want our guests to be overwhelmed by odours, and we don’t want our staff working with chemicals on a daily basis that are going to be harmful to them.’’
Lithgow Workies Club will officially open its $6.5 million facelift on Saturday, March 19, with renowned media and sport identity Mike Whitney in the new showroom from 7.15pm.
The evening will be rounded off with spectacular entertainment from Australia’s “Queen of Soul’’ Lisa Hunt and her band in the revamped showroom. Tickets: $20.
Lithgow Workies Club Motel, Tank St, Lithgow, is now open for bookings. Go to www.workies.com.au or phone (02) 6350 7777 to book and for more details.
* Lithgow & District Workmen’s Club is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity
By Ellen Hill Photos: David Hill
“Bula Mrs Hill. Bula Mr Hill. Bula Master Hill.
“Bula scruffy dog.
“Naughty dog – you should be at home.
It set the tone for the whole seven-day visit to Fiji’s Coral Coast.
From the palm tree-lined beaches, the thatched huts, azure waters dotted with quaint fishing boats, sapphire-coloured skies, and strapping young men in sarongs, all the clichés were there in glorious real life. It was as if we had been engulfed by the pages of a tourist brochure.
After a tough previous few months, it was just what we needed, right down to being handed a coconut on the promenade by the grinning man who scampered up to cut it down.
The Fiji Hideaway Resort was perfect: not too posh so we felt uncomfortable but nice enough to feel like a treat.
Our white bure (villa) was spacious, cool and clean, surrounded by tropical plants and with high ceilings, a queen size bed, an indoor shower (and a pretty spiffy outdoor one) and a front verandah.
Unheard of for us, we embraced the opportunity to “fly and flop’’ and didn’t leave the resort for three days.
With jobs that require us to be positive, polite and almost servile, it was a welcome relief to laze by the pool while resort staff scurried around at our beck and call.
We enjoyed the theatrical nightly kava ceremony, the lighting of the torches, the cultural stage performance each evening and got a buzz from the “personal’’ invitation to attend drinks with the resort general manager the afternoon we arrived.
Our tweenage son preferred our company, although the resort does have a kids club where resort crew look after the children with non-stop activities from treasure hunts to snorkelling and Fijian fishing lessons.
The resort website encourages visitors to meet
the real Fiji’’ by visiting thefriendly locals’’ in nearby villages, although we suspect the many locals who work there feel obliged to welcome tourists into their personal spaces after serving their every need all day.
After three days of soaking in the cloistered embrace of the resort, we tentatively ventured beyond the protective gates and wandered down the narrow potholed road towards town.
Just a few hundred metres down the road we were confronted by a man holding a machete.
He eyed us suspiciously.
We eyed him anxiously.
“Where are you going?’’ he asked.
“Just for a walk,’’ my husband said, aiming for a casual tone but achieving a warbled defence.
Why?’’ the man asked in amazement.Why you leave the resort?’’
Sitting cross-legged on the bare earthen floor of the hut, a tiny naked child peeped around the doorframe as the man told us his hard luck story and asked for money.
The next day it was slightly disconcerting to see him elevated as an elder at the local Methodist church service, where we were amused by the spotlessly dressed children in their Sabbath whites, singing psalms like angels and squabbling like seagulls during the sermon.
We took an organised full-day tour to Robinson Caruso Island (arranged by the resort staff), where tourists can enjoy a bountiful lunch, educational tour and entertainment. There is also a bar, children’s water activities and basic hut accommodation.
The resort shops are stocked with a range of items, from toiletries to clothing along with traditional novelties and snacks – all carrying a generous mark-up price.
The Hideaway has a full gym but we steered clear of physical torture, preferring a massage at the day spa and a lounge by the pool.
Apart from the raw sausage served at the “traditional Aussie BBQ’’, the only real downer was the lack of an ATM (we had to order a taxi and travel to the 5-star hotel down the road).
After building a sandcastle on the beach, going on numerous romantic sunset strolls along the sun-soaked shores of the
majestic ocean lagoon with year-round warm tropical waters’’ andpristine coral beaches’’, collecting shells and sipping rich cocktails by the pool, we truly felt refreshed.
Sometimes you just need a postcard.
Several international airlines have flights into Fij, including Qantas, Air New Zealand, Korean Air, Pacific Blue, and V Australia. Air Pacific is the national carrier and has direct flights from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Japan. The Fiji International Airport is located in Nadi.
The Coral Coast and the Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa are a 90 minute transfer away. The resort’s reservations staff can organise a transfer at the time of reservation via private car, taxi, or coach (fees apply).
Sightseeing around the Coral Coast is a must, with beautiful beaches and coral lagoons to explore. Taxis are available from the resort to visit Sigatoka for duty free shopping or the tour desk can organise a rental.
We rode the public bus into Sigatoka, which cost only a few dollars.