Checking out of Lakes Entrance after 35 years

Joan and Laurie Appleby are celebrating their retirements this month. Joan, the former housekeeper at Best Western Banjo Paterson Motor Inn for 35 years, and Laurie, the former manager at Great Lakes Airport for 28 years, said it’s time to see Australia.

“We’re planning to get a Winnebago and drive around Australia,” Joan said. “It’s quite daunting, this will be the first big trip we’ve taken together after being in Lakes Entrance so long.”

Before leaving for work, Joan and Laurie made their bed every morning. They would wake, eat breakfast and Joan would effortlessly fold back, tuck and turn the sheets in three minutes flat.

She would then head out the door for more stripping, tucking and folding sheets in up to 10 bedrooms a day.

As the longest serving employee at Best Western Banjo Paterson Motor Inn, it only makes sense that years of making beds would make Joan an expert in her job.

“You get good with practice,” Joan shares. “When guests checkout of the hotel, I’d clean and replace their sheets all in 20 minutes, ready for the next guest.”

And there’s a few guests Joan hasn’t minded rolling out fresh new sheets for over the years. Paul Kelly, the lead singer from the Black Sorrows and Darryl Braithwaite are two examples.

But what Joan said she enjoyed most about turning over guest rooms for 35 years was the everyday people and families she met along the way.

Family is a priority for Joan. She and husband Laurie met while she was working as a cook at George Bass Motor Inn and waitressing at Lakes Entrance RSL Glenara Motel, her first jobs she worked in her teenage years.

Laurie remembers Dick Smith opening the Great Lakes Airport, where he has been manager for the past 28 years.

After long careers both working in and around Lakes Entrance, and raising three girls now in their forties, Joan said she and Laurie are excited to start their new adventure together.

Jim McCaffrey, owner of Best Western Banjo Paterson Motor Inn and Joan’s boss for 18 of her 35 years at the property, invited family and friends to help farewell Joan at a special dinner at the hotel’s Clancy’s Restaurant on Sunday 6 July.

Raising a glass to toast Joan and Laurie on Sunday, he said, “Joan will always be part of the furniture and family at Banjo. She will be incredibly missed and her dedication and smiling face was always uplifting to see each morning. I wish her and Laurie all the best in turning over a ‘new sheet’ and beginning their well-deserved retirement together.”

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