An unassuming bend in the highway diverts around an equally unassuming town, the only indication that anything may be of interest are the occasional glimpses of two tall Cotton Palms. The palm tree was a symbol of aspiration in Victorian times; a trend which happened to continue through to the Edwardian period when Loch’s pair of Cotton Palms were thought to have been planted. Classified as significant by the National Trust they stand at the rear of the old Royal Hotel, itself built in 1916 to replace an earlier 1888 weatherboard hotel unfortunately lost to fire, that had also replaced an earlier-still coffee palace.
Established as a town in 1876, and situated in a small valley along the former South Gippsland railway, Loch was surrounded by fertile pasture and centrally positioned within good distance to the nearby butter factories at Korumburra and Bena, as well as the coal workings at Korumburra and the timber mills of Nyora. Maybe somewhat too advantageous, the most grandiose building in the town remains the imposing Union Bank constructed in 1902, designed by architect Walter R. Butler. W.R. Butler, a notable architect of the early 20th century was employed to extend and remodel many high society Melbourne homes of the time such as Edzell at Toorak, Billila at Brighton and Bishopcourt at East Melbourne. He was also responsible for designing the gatehouse and lodge at Coombe Cottage, Coldstream for Dame Nellie Melba. The former Union Bank remains standing tall at the eastern end of town but now housing a different form of copper, that being the traditional hand beaten copper pot stills in which artisanal gin is crafted onsite by current owners, Loch Distillery.
The future is bright for Loch, after almost being essentially forgotten as nothing more than a quick stop in for those travelling further south, recent years have been kind to the Village which has transformed itself from quiet little town bypassed by most tourists, into a unique and diverse little hub for arts and coffee culture and has become a place of which people choose to travel to.
Formerly empty shops and disused spaces have been reorientated into places of intrigue and fascination; including the works of ceramicist Peter McEwan, whose ceramics I‘ve featured here before, and the wonderful work of Yakkity Yak; who personally and ethically source traditional hand made felt works from Nepal, benefitting Nepalese families and supporting fair trade organisations in the region. This intrigued me personally enough to return during opening hours and purchase my own set of felt ‘rocks’. In fact I chose those exact ones pictured, and they now live on the mid century Chiswell extension table-come work desk of which I’m currently sitting at. They might be something seemingly insignificant but those insignificant felt rocks were hand made half the world away and became the subject of a photo which I chose to take, and in doing so forced me to want to purchase them, and that in itself gives them their own story. A small story but a story nonetheless, and just one of the many which make up the previously unassuming town of Loch Village.
Thanks for looking