Millthorpe, it’s the people, it’s the buildings. The buildings themselves have a draw. It’s so old fashioned. There’s something kind of cosy about going down into the village. Millthorpe is just safety: you feel safe.
Virginia DeSantis, Millthorpe
Rosebank [the former bank building that Virginia and partner Gordon Craig bought to run as a bed and breakfast] had the most beautiful feeling of a home about it. It was old. It had a lot of things that don’t make a home homely. It had really high ceilings. It was cold. It was big. And it was just beautiful. I think one of the greatest pleasures we got was people walking in the door and just going ‘Oh, this feels so beautiful’. And it was just a lovely place to live.
There were so many special things about it. I think a lot of people would have said the original bank room was the highlight. It had the old red cedar counter in it and it had 15 foot ceilings. It was just an amazing room and a lot of people commented on it, but to me the dining room was just magnificent. All the rooms had open fireplaces in them but the dining room had a beautiful open fireplace and it had the most beautiful lace curtains that looked out through French doors onto a verandah. We’d light up a big fire in there and it was just cosy. We could feed about 12 people in there but it was a cosy, beautiful room.
When we moved into Rosebank we didn’t [have a strong sense of history]. We fell in love with Millthorpe and the history and by the time we got to [the former Baptist Church which they now live in], it became so important to keep.
I’d be driving back from Orange and when you turned off and came to Millthorpe I used to say it was like turning into a wonderland. It was just such a little village. There’s something kind of cosy about going down into the village. So much of the centre of the village is original. It’s a home. Millthorpe is just safety. You feel safe.
It’s the people, it’s the buildings. The buildings themselves have a draw. It’s so old fashioned. It’s so old without being ‘modern old’, if you know what I mean. It’s never been made to look old. I think the people are the heart of the village and the fact that it’s small.
I don’t think the feeling of Millthorpe will ever change, because I don’t think the centre of the village will change. Businesses come and go and sometimes there have been some really lean years when we’ve been here when very few businesses were going. At the moment it’s going really well and there are a lot of businesses. But I think that heart, that core of the village, will never change. Even if the village gets bigger with new developments, I think you’ll still retain that.
I’m not against development around Millthorpe because, when you go to England, you see this over and over again: the villages that survive are the ones that have still got their beautiful little hearts and the development has happened around them.
I think if we want to maintain pubs and restaurants and gift shops, clothing shops and things like that in Millthorpe, then you will have to have people in it. It won’t all come from tourism. I think it has to be supported by all the people around.
Interviewed by Ann Harrison