Old abattoir part of the tourist hook

Old abattoir part of the tourist hook

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The Silos and Wave Rock Country Cottage business owner Chloe Tienhoven, with two of her three kids, Seb (5) and Meeks (20 months).

The Silos and Wave Rock Country Cottage business owner Chloe Tienhoven, with two of her three kids, Seb (5) and Meeks (20 months).

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In 2003 at just 18 years of age, Chloe Tienhoven arrived in the small Wheatbelt town of Hyden, with the intention to travel around Australia.

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IN 2003 at just 18 years of age, Chloe Tienhoven arrived in the small Wheatbelt town of Hyden, with the intention to travel around Australia.

Fast forward to 2019 and she hasn't left, and now has three children with her partner, Craig Whitwell, who owns and manages his family's mixed cropping farm in the area, while she runs and manages two businesses in town.

With a population of just under 500 people, Hyden has about 140,000 tourists a year, with the majority visiting to take a snap of the famous Wave Rock, about four kilometres out of town.

But it's not the only thing you can see and do in Hyden, with a massive granite formation, the Humps, Mulka Cave and the Gnamma and Kalari walk trails being some of the many attractions.

In 2008, after working at the CBH bins and doing various jobs around town, Ms Tienhoven purchased an investment property in Hyden, which occasionally had tenants.

Previously an abattoir, The Silos has the old hooks on display in the communal kitchen, which used to be the kill room.

Previously an abattoir, The Silos has the old hooks on display in the communal kitchen, which used to be the kill room.

In 2011, after much consideration, she decided to take the plunge and turn the property into a self-contained accommodation cottage, and Wave Rock Country Cottage was born.

Ms Tienhoven completed much of the cottage renovations herself, with the help of a few family members.

"I have pictures of Craig's mum, Wendy helping me scrape up the 30-year old carpet and glue, and discovering beautiful jarrah floorboards underneath," Ms Tienhoven said.

"Craig's granddad David (dec) and dad, Garry had a lot of enjoyment in pulling out the old kitchen as well.

"We left the original bathroom in until a couple of years ago, so it was really nice to finally get that completed - it was operational but not the best."

In July 2017, after adding Airbnb as another booking avenue, said the increase in business was amazing.

"In January 2017 the cottage had 18 nights booked compared to 31 nights in January 2018," Ms Tienhoven said.

"Airbnb brought in a whole new clientele and international guests, in particular, felt safe and secure knowing they were booking a legitimate accommodation cottage."

In its first year of business the cottage had 28 per cent occupancy, compared to a whopping 80pc so far this year.

"At the start I was excited about having five bookings a month and compared to now, if I haven't got five bookings a week it would be very unusual," she said.

In 2017, after regularly turning away customers at the cottage due to unprecedented demand for accommodation in town, the couple made the decision to purchase the town's old abattoir and turn it into workers' style accommodation.

"It had been on the market since 2017, I was pregnant with our third and was contemplating building another cabin in the backyard of our cottage accommodation when Craig suggested we buy the abattoir instead," Ms Tienhoven said.

"It had been on and off the market since 2011 and although we already had our hands full, we bought it anyway."

Prior to buying the abattoir, the couple had purchased two large portable buildings from a family friend in Busselton, with the vision to do something with them eventually.

"It was a really good deal we couldn't pass up, and with the purchase of the abattoir we finally had the opportunity to use them, so we shipped them to site once we had settled the land," Ms Tienhoven said.

With both demountables in great condition, they didn't require much work, besides furnishing the interior and adding on the verandahs.

Located just 2km from Wave Rock, and with a great perspective of the CBH bins and surrounding farms, Ms Tienhoven aptly named the accommodation site The Silos.

Opened in January this year, business was initially quiet until a contract came through in March for a group of road workers who booked the place out for more than a month.

Since then, The Silos has had a steady stream of customers, including all types of workers, from shearers, farmhands, steel fabricators to other various contractors in the agricultural sector.

Registered for workers accommodation, there are eight separate rooms, all with queen beds, so it can hold up to 16 people if needed.

"But most of the time it's just a single worker in each, and they appreciate having a queen bed over a single," Ms Tienhoven said.

"We're currently booked out by one organisation for the entire harvest season."

Ms Tienhoven kept some of the history of the abattoir, with the main building itself used as a communal space for The Silos' guests.

The abattoir hooks are still on display in the kill room, which has been turned into a communal kitchen, while the former holding area has been converted into an outdoor dining area and the cool room is now a dining room.

The shed, which was previously the boiler room, has also been turned into a recreational room, equipped with a television, lounge, table tennis table and another dining table in there to keep guests entertained.

"There was layers of fat all over that shed, so it was really satisfying to wash it down with acid," Ms Tienhoven said.

"Other than that, I think the abattoir was probably one of the cleanest places within the shire because it had to be inspected every week."

Besides coming across a lot of bones when digging the septic tanks on the property, Ms Tienhoven said they hadn't found any other evidence of the building's previous trade.

"It was in 2011 when they shut so that's probably why - there was a long time of no one being here," she said.

The owners of the abattoir, the Haslam family, bought the 16 hectare block from the Lands Department in 1972.

The family, also the owners of the local butcher shop, did their own kills.

"One of the Haslam boys trained to be an inspector, because it would have been unaffordable to get someone to come up from the city every week," Ms Tienhoven said.

"I think they killed on a Wednesday morning and it was probably the best meat you would ever have."

When the two sons' children were ready to go to high school the family relocated, putting the abattoir up for sale.

"By pure coincidence, the Haslams were the first customers of our cottage in town," Ms Tienhoven said.

Business has continued to be strong for both The Silos and Wave Rock Country Cottage, with the business working with other tourist operators in town.

"Often they'll ring us and say do you have any rooms and we will do the same thing with them, so there's an obvious demand for extra accommodation in the area," she said.

Not the type to sit still, the couple also took over Mr Whitwell's family farm in 2016.

"We got hit with major frost the first year we took it over, and it was a big step for us, going from working on the farm where you get your pay cheque every week, to being totally responsible for the whole operation," Ms Tienhoven said.

The farm which crops wheat, canola, barley and lupins introduced hay this year.

Looking to the future, she said the options were endless, with plans to do a nature-based campground on the north west side of The Silos property.

"I've just put in an application to the shire and we've had a grader in to map out a bit of a plan," Ms Tienhoven said.

"It will be big lots, no power and no amenities for a nature-based permit, but it will be somewhere safe people know they can pull up and park their vans for a relatively cheap price."

Ms Tienhoven said she would still like to build another cabin behind the cottage in town, but that she would probably hold off until their children were in school full-time.

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