Meeting Natasha Hall is reminiscent of the famous scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally.’ Her enthusiasm and generous spirit makes you want to shout, ‘I’ll have what she’s having.’
Ms Hall is Daylesford’s version of a Christmas Elf, but she provides good all year round. And regardless of whether you have been bad or good, no judgement here, everyone deserves kindness and a happy festive season.
What brought you to Daylesford?
My parents retired here about 30 years ago. I was living abroad, and had been for 26 years, but then my mum passed away 7 years ago. I thought, ‘Dad’s alone, he’s woken up next to Mum for 50 years, and didn’t get to say goodbye.’ So, I thought it was time to come back to Australia. He’s 91, so it was now or never.
Is Daylesford now home?
Yes, I was transient for so many years. I’m pretty adaptable. Daylesford is such a beautiful place, just the serenity of it. Having lived in most of the major cities in the world, I like the peace and calm.
You are an active member in the community, how?
When I first arrived here, I thought, ‘what am I going to do with myself?’ I can’t just hang out with Dad all the time. I must make a life here. My focus was to get Dad in a happy place after Mum. I had more than 20 years working overseas, working for some extremely wealthy people, and very famous people. I have been so spoilt, so I thought it was time to share some of my time with other people and give back. It really is all about being a good, kind person.
Tell me about the Good Grub Club.
We’re a food bank. We restructured when Covid hit. So instead of providing one meal a week, we went from serving 40 individuals a week to feeding 320 families a week.
Not many people may know, but Hepburn is the poorest Shire in Victoria. So, amongst all this beauty there are people really struggling. The Good Grub Club and other charities are definitely needed.
I am also on the Daylesford Foundation Committee. It does so much good for the community. Anything from fixing someone’s fence to giving kids a grant to start a small business.
We have been hit with another interest rate hike, what will that mean to families just before Christmas?
It will make things harder and more challenging for many. It will likely see an increase in the support needed by the Good Grub Club and other charities.
We don’t stop, we provide food 52 weeks of the year, everyone has to eat. This time of the year can be very lonely.
What is the concept of the shared table?
It’s a place for people to come. Thursdays are our in-house meal. Anyone in the community is welcome. We don’t ask for a healthcare card, we don’t ask what your circumstances are, there is no judgement. It’s one big, shared table.
We recently had one of our regular diners pass away, and the whole table mourned her, even though some of them had never spoken to her. What made it really sweet was no-one sat in her seat for 3 weeks.
You have 3 spare seats on the shared table, who would you invite?
Adam and Eve, I have a few questions! And Elon Musk.
Sent to an eco retreat in Wombat State Forest for the rest of your eternal life, what 3 items would you take?
I love reading, so a library of books, a telescope to watch the night sky. I’ll get back to you on the third.
What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
Save 20 percent of what you earn. You have one life so live it, and make the most of every day, as it might be your last. That’s been my mantra.
What’s next for Natasha Hall?
Having just opened a hole in the wall cafe ,’Walters_3460’ down by Lake Daylesford I think I’ll stand still for a moment.
However, coming up on December 20th is the ‘Day of Giving’ by the Daylesford Hepburn Regional Community Cheer. It’s held at the Town Hall. We spend the whole year fundraising so people less fortunate will have some joy at this time of year.
People who register can come and they will receive a Christmas hamper, a little goodie bag and the children will have toys to open on Christmas Day. It’s a beautiful day.
If you were a hashtag what would you be?
Do you have a Christmas wish?
Find us a commercial kitchen with a dining space. Where we operate from, a little hall next to the Uniting Church on Central Springs Road, is now being sold, so we are looking for a new home. There is a great space at Victoria Park, but we need the Council to give us more access. It would service all the community. It’s an under-used facility.
The Hepburn Shire Good Grub club welcomes donations for those in need this Christmas. Bendigo Bank BSB 633000 Acc 173753609.
Raquel Stevens is a former Network Ten News Journalist. She has been a part time local for more than 25 years, and one day hopes to be a full time local.