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Retirement for most people is a bit of travel, maybe a new hobby or two, and plenty of downtime. That’s not the case for Gerard Hayward and his partner Amanda Dennis from GA Hayward Engineering, whose retirement plans will be keeping them busier than ever.

Gerard bought GA Hayward Engineering in 1998, though prior to that he worked for the business as a subcontractor. In the decades since the business has predominately serviced the mining industry which Gerard attributes to its success.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunities that the mining industry has provided. Not just for me and my family, but for all our employees and their families.” said Gerard.

“Many of our employees have been with us for years, such as Michael Baker who is 65 and has worked for us since we started. My son Jonah has also been working here for the last 9 years.”

Gerard said it’s been a good run but now it’s getting on time to hang up the tools. There’s been a ton of changes in the industry over the years, especially technological changes, which has encouraged his decision to turn over the reins to Jonah.

“I guess you could say I’m a little old school and not that great with all that technology stuff,” laughs Gerard, holding up his mobile phone which looks like a model from 20 years ago.

“Jonah is the one who is going to lead the business into the future and that means it’s time for me to step aside.”

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Though he might be stepping aside, he won’t be slowing down. Gerard and Amanda have become the proud owners of the Hills of Gold Motel located at Nundle. This small, historic mining town is home to around 300 people and is nestled between the Peel River and Great Dividing Range, about an hour’s drive from Tamworth.

“Buying a hotel was definitely not something we planned or were even thinking about,” shares Amanda. “We were chatting with the owner at the pub at Nundle one day and she mentioned that it was on the market. It caught our interest straight away. I guess it was a case of the right place at the right time. Then before we knew it, we’d bought it!”

Amanda said it was a little neglected and so they immediately got started on renovations to modernise and freshen the place up. Once it was up to scratch, they brought in a couple to manage it and since then the motel has been nonstop busy, with plenty of tourists coming through.

“Nundle is quite a popular tourist destination. Being a gold mining town you get plenty of people coming to prospect and fossick. Then there is the functioning wool mill, museum, boutique stores, even a trout farm. It’s also a popular route for motorbike riders, there’s always some passing through,” said Gerard.

“But what really sold us on becoming a part of the Nundle community is just how social the town is. There’s real warmth and friendliness. Someone will come though town and pop into the hotel unplanned, we’ll be chatting and before you know it, we’ll end up having dinner with them at the pub. It’s just that kind of place.”

When they purchased the motel, Gerard and Amanda were planning to keep working in the business for 5 years but said it’s getting harder and harder to stick with that plan.

“It’s getting more tempting every day,” said Amanda. “I think we will make the change a lot sooner. Buying the motel was never in our plans, but it’s reinvigorated us and made us really excited about the future. So we wanted to share with other people that you just never know what life is waiting for you after mining.”

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