The joy of a country roadside motel

We had the joy last week of staying in one of my favourite places: the Australian small country town roadside motel. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea and long life milk, but it has always captured a part of my life and I’m doing my best to keep the tradition alive for our girls.

We spent my childhood doing old school roadtrips around Australia. My favourite memories are of us as a family driving for hours – I always read my books and staying awake to make sure Dad didn’t do a Chevy Chase and fall asleep. I’d keep diaries too (a blogger before my time) with postcards and business cards from some of the best Motor Inns all along the Pacific and Hume highways.

Since Rob and I had the girls we have kept the traditions alive and always chosen these old school delights (sometimes off the beaten tracks) to show these towns some business and enjoy a time travel back to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and believe me, there are plenty of them still about! I love everything about the towns, the Bowlo’s and RSL’s that you eat at, the angle parking in the main streets, the piss weak world tourist attractions, the exposed brick and brown interiors, the thimble sized wine glasses, the outdoor table settings, the shitty pools, the weird reception areas, I love it ALL.

Here’s some of our favourites through the years:

How could you forget Cockington Green? As I said, pissweak world and the scary tea rooms.

This was a personal favourite of mine, Berida Manor down here in Bowral before it turned into trendy boutique hotel Berida Hotel. Check out the dressing tables and elaborate use of Grandma figurines! DOILIES!

Daisy played with them like toys. Have you ever?!

And this place in Robbo when we were looking to move down here: Chats Motel where Daisy said it was the best place she had ever stayed. The besser bricks! The flour strip lighting! She used to call them hell-tells and I think she was onto something.

Last week we had the pleasure of enjoying the Bulahdelah Motor Lodge and it was everything that you’d expect it to be. Exposed brick, tick! Lock chain on the door, tick! Hatch for breakfast, tick! Thimble sized glasses, tick! Gideons in the drawer, tick! UHL in the fridge, tick! 2 Packs of Nice biscuits, tick! Licensed on site restaurant, tick! Breakfast menu in at reception handed in by 9pm, tick!

And memories made, tick!

It warms my heart I tell you, and if you get a chance to stay in one of these places, then do. Every time. These country towns need our business and are a wonderful way to travel back through time. Just don’t make the mistake that I did and not unlock the breakfast hatch for the tray slide in…such a wasted opportunity!

And if you love this kind of stuff too, you will want to follow OK Motels on Instagram…it’s a must!

Did you stay in them as a kid?
Where was the last time you stayed in one?


  1. We had a stay at the Ebor Motel last year and their catch cry on their ad was ‘Every man’s dream!’. When we pulled up one of the kids quietly asked me if it was indeed every man’s dream (I assured them it was safe to say no lol).

  2. One of my favourite things ever is breakfast that arrives through a purpose made breakfast door.

  3. Ah, you know that my son called hotels hell-tels at a similar age! We stay at a glorious motel in Gundagai that ticks all the boxes, and they give you real milk on arrival! Sometimes we go truly old school and stay in a pub, upstairs with the grand verandah and bathroom down the hall, usually with a great big bath as well!
    Keep up the good work Beth!
    ps when I was a kid we called them driving holidays! I try to inflict that on my kids to keep it truly old school!!

  4. The smell….I remember “that” smell!! Burnt vinyl, crossed with old dusty carpet and old stale cigarette smoke! But memories…great memories. Also loved the breakfast hatch and the ordering of the breakfast….a big hilight.

  5. Last Christmas we stayed in a place at Manly that looked just like one of these. The kids didn’t cope too well. We do camping a lot.

  6. Love old school motels, so long as they’re well managed and scrupulously clean. Breakfast hatches are among my favourite things, though they’re becoming increasingly rare. I travelled around regional NSW for work for a number of years and stayed in some gems, along with a couple that were too much like Bates’ Motel 😩. Your photos brought back a heap of memories, most of them very good! 🍲☕️🍽📺🛌

  7. We were a driving/caravan park holiday family, and I now feel truly ripped off!
    Such luxuries you enjoy in these hell-tells – indoor bathrooms, chain locks, actual bed size beds!

    We usually drove and then stayed in on-site vans, but we occasionally towed a borrowed van; either way, there are classic childhood memories attached to those trips!

  8. Beck Berger says

    These places are the bees knees aren’t they 💙

  9. Ha ha ha, thank you so much for making me laugh out loud…. I love everything about this post Beth. So true!!!! Yes, just yes… to everything. I’m trying to remember the last time we stayed in one (although I must admit to being a little bit of a motel snob and do prefer the larger wine glass and crisp white sheets of the finer establishments, ha ha ha ha). Those tiny tubs of milk bring my boys so much joy!

  10. my good that motel restaurant is pricey! That has always been my experience with rural australia accomodation – crazy expensive as there is nothing else around

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