MOST people move to Tea Gardens to retire, but not Ben and Emily Hanson.
As the new owners of the iconic Tea Gardens Hotel/Motel, they’re working up to 16 hour days and loving every minute of it.
“To do a complete life shift, and take on a totally new endeavour, it’s a huge change,” Emily told News Of The Area.
“But I’ve never seen Ben happier.”
Ben was one of the Nine Network’s top cameramen for more than 20 years, before turning freelance.
He worked out of Sydney and London and covered major stories from the White House to the wars in Iraq and the Middle East.
Emily too spent many years living and working in America, before deciding to come home to Australia.
The couple met on the set of ‘The Batchelor’, married and now have 14-month-old Flynn.
“You don’t want to be going to war zones when you have a family,” Ben said.
The couple was looking to buy a pub and was considering a move to Narooma when Ben asked the advice of his Uncle Arthur Laundy.
“He wanted to sell his Tea Gardens hotel and the timing was right,” Ben said.
“We came up in December and we fell in love with the place.”
“We saw that the hotel had good bones,” Ben said.
“We looked at the river and the beaches and we both said this is where we want to raise our little son.”
Ben and Emily have already made changes and a lot more are on the way.
‘’Over the next few months, we’re renovating all the accommodation,” Emily said.
“We want visitors to say, “that place was so charming, we’ll come back again and again”.
There’s also a new bronze statue looking out to the river, and turning heads.
The ‘Paparazzi Dog’ was created by Sydney artists Gillie and Marc in homage to Ben’s former career.
The beer garden and interior is also being renovated.
“We want it to be a place where families come with their kids.”
“We also want to support the town,” Emily said.
“The better this place goes, the more jobs are brought to town.”
“We take such pride in everything we do, this is like our own home.”
“We’re going to put some love into the place.”
By Margie TIERNEY