The building which is now the Guest House was originally Howe’s General Store. Built around 1890, it must have been a focus for much of the early commerce in Mole Creek. Will Howe and his wife Alice also offered accommodation to the early tourist market with a Bush Boarding House including rooms in a separate building called The Cottage which has since been demolished. Joseph Lyons, a past Australian Prime Minister, spent many holidays in Mole Creek and stayed with the Howes.
The 1920’s saw Mole Creek as a popular destination for Tasmanians on holiday. With the convenience of the railway, the town attracted many visitors to experience the delights of rural countryside and the mysteries of the limestone caves. The district even inspired a romance novel called “the Captive Singer”, written by Marie Bjelke Petersen (aunt of Jo, an ex premier of Queensland).
The store remained in the Howe family till 1986 when it finally closed. Many locals still remember with fondness the milk shakes that Ben Howe used to make and the wide selection of goods which he sold; everything from flour to boots.
With the closure of the railway at the same time, the western end of Mole Creek must have become a quieter place.
A new lease of life came in 1988 when the building was purchased by a South Australian who saw its potential in the growing tourist industry. Howe’s Store became the Western Tiers Tea Rooms and once again offered refreshment and shelter to travellers.
Becoming the “Mole Creek Guest House” and “Laurel Berry Tea Rooms” in 1990, the old store saw new owners once again and was extensively refurbished using colours and furnishings of its original period. The pressed metal linings which are a prominent feature of the upstairs rooms were part of a 1920’s addition to the building and now stand as one of the outstanding characteristics of the decor.
In 1993, the Guest House was taken over by new owners, Lyn & Haydn Stedman, who conceived and oversaw many dramatic improvements & developments to the property and business. Their extensive work included the installation of an envirocycle treatment plant, re-roofing the house, repainting the boards, and a total refit of the rooms to create the distinctive look that now defines the Guest House.
Though the Guest House was never built as a “grand home” and is basically utilitarian in its design and construction, it does have the charm of a place which has seen many faces and not a few changes in its life. When the floorboards creak or the rain drums on the roof, the house feels as if it is speaking of its past.
A wine cellar, shady verandas and a place to enjoy the winter sun have been added to the original structure and 1998 saw a complete refurbishment of the restaurant & restaurant kitchen.
During, over ten years of significant improvements to the property, Lyn and Haydn also developed a reputation in the Great Western Tiers district for offering warm hospitality and fine food in what became a central venue for local celebrations large and small.
In January 2005 we, Paul Gerhard & Laurie Rose bought the Mole Creek Guest House & Laurel Berry Restaurant. Formerly from Sydney (and previously from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, and Johannesburg, South Africa), we have made yet another major and somewhat surprising life move to Mole Creek, Tasmania.
Our tree change has been as confronting, daunting and exciting as ever we could have imagined. Learning what it is to live in a village of no more than 200, tending our large garden and ‘home’ and running a 24/7 guest house and restaurant for visitors from all over the world have presented joys and challenges which have shaped and enriched our lives in ways never anticipated.
Developing our business has been the overriding theme of our lives here. Running a busy restaurant and guest house takes much of our time, but always in the background, gardening, building and redecorating are in process. Dreams of cultivating a vegetable patch which would provide the produce for our restaurant were early replaced with the building of a creekside granny flat for our mum.
The work of tending a garden in this unique climate and karst environment has captured our imagination, not to mention amazing effort & energy, and if Mole Creek Guest House is now about anything, it is about flowers. Every season brings its own character and an abundance of new flowering plants, providing a colorful and vibrant context to this wonderful old building and an additional reason to make your stay here most memorable.