50 towns in 50 days: Lal Lal. So nice they named it twice

NICK Fammartino wanted a pub with longer opening hours. 

So, he bought his local watering hole in Lal Lal.

The bedding manufacturer created a restaurant menu for weekends and has plans to gradually create accommodation for more out-of-towners to stay and enjoy Lal Lal’s picturesque surrounds.

Three bed and breakfasts - two in town and one on the outskirts - cater for the endless stream of walking groups, dirt bikers and horse-riding clubs that stop to explore Lal Lal.

Plenty has changed since Mr Fammartino moved into town about 25 years ago.

In his fourth year as town publican, he now has his finger on the pulse of all that is going on.

“In all country towns the pub is very important. It’s sort of a meeting place” Mr Fammartino said.

“My busiest nights are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and some weekends we’ll have up to 80 people in the restaurant.

“We have a lot of buses, like work break-ups, coming up from Geelong or groups going to the Falls.”

Houses are starting to spring up on small half-acre blocks across the township as more discover how serene Lal Lal life can be.

Most residents work in Ballarat, Geelong or Melbourne and Mr Fammartino has noticed a small influx of former Buninyong residents swapping to Lal Lal for more open space.

The Lal Lal mechanic is flat-out with business, a general store offers the basics but the town’s business really comes to life in social club open markets.

Mr Fammartino said talks about the railway station reopening could only help keep Lal Lal thriving.

The basics

Municipality: Moorabool Shire

Population: about 800 people, 228 residences.

First settled: 1845, originally as part of an extensive sheep run.

Main industries: Agriculture, mining (historically).

Claim to fame: The iconic and natural beauty, Lal Lal Falls.

Five fast facts

1. So nice they named it twice! Lal Lal means ‘dashing waters’ in the original Wathaurong community.

2. Lal Lal holds the record for the highest crowd at a country race meet - more than 32,000 people on New Year’s Day, 1937. About 10,000 racegoers arrived by train.

3. Geologists say that centuries ago, Lal Lal was a lake with a natural sand bank. A series of eruptions created the town’s surrounding rivers.

4. Gold prospecting dominated Lal Lal in the late 1800s and in 1981 there was talk of bringing a diamond drill to town.

5. Lal Lal Falls is the spiritual resting place of the Kulin people.

Five things to do

1. Road trip to Lal Lal and stay the night in one of the town’s three bed and breakfasts or a bed at the Falls hotel.

2. Improve your photography skills with the Lal Lal Moorabool Photography Club which meets every third Wednesday of the month at the Lal Lal Soldiers Hall, Clarendon Road.

3. Get your walking shoes on to explore the town’s trails and be sure to stop at the blast furnace, water tower and bluestone Lal Lal Railway Station along the way.

4. Pack a picnic and enjoy your feast with Lal Lal Falls as your backdrop.

5. Pop in for a weekend dinner at the Lal Lal Falls Hotel in its cozy restaurant.

Lal Lal publican Nick Fammartino. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCE

Lal Lal publican Nick Fammartino. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCE


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