Playing in the sunshine, I watched my dad Russel Mouritz, load the car for a picnic. "Where are we going?", I asked excited. "To the rock", he replied.
It was 1959, and I was five. The rock was a huge wave-shaped formation near our farm in Hyden, WA. My siblings and I would run up and down its curved slope.
In 1964, a man took a photo of the rock and it wound up in the National Geographic Magazine. Soon, tourists began to arrive in Hyden wanting to see "the rock that looks like a wave". It quickly became known as Wave Rock. Visitors were a novelty back then. In fact, locals used to joke that if you ended up in Hyden, you were either mad or lost.
Dad became one of the first tourism operators, taking part ownership of the Wave Rock Hotel Motel, and setting up a Caravan Park in 1970.
In 1977, after working as a draftsperson in Perth, I returned to Hyden to become the hotel manager. By the early 1980's, we had hundreds of weekly visitors coming to Wave Rock.
My future husband, Denis Collins arrived in 1982. He'd been a top Australian Rules football player in Melbourne and came to Hyden to work on a farm and play footy for the local team. However, it was a bit of a culture shock for him; "it's very quiet here"' he said. To which I'd reply,"There is actually a lot to do if you know where to go". So we would stroll around Lake Magic, visit mysterious Mulka's Cave and The Humps, and look at ancient Aboriginal art. Denis later dug a water hole near the Wave Rock Resort area, where it is fun to float in due to the water's high salt content.
In 1990, my family opened The Lace Place, the largest collection of lace in Australia. Today, more that 140,000 domestic and international tourists visit Hyden and Wave Rock every year. While other towns are dying out, ours is thriving building on it's strengths. It's a lovely community.
Sheenagh Collins - Take 5 Magazine 6th February 2013.
These days - you may find Sheenagh leading a tour of Wave Rock, cooking A La Carte in the Motel, mentoring her 50 dedicated staff, painting, spending time with her neices and nephews, helping her mum at the Wildlife Park, volunteering within the community, learning to make lace and enjoying serving coffee at the Wildflower Shoppe Cafe.
Please read below some feedback from Leadership WA 2013 after their visit to Hyden:
........ Wow what a place, what a story. I must admit I was not expecting to see such a huge shop and cafe area; it was like walking into the Tardus. Your imagination and attention to customer detail is quite remarkable. Absolutely blown away with the Lace and Small Soldier Museums, I am definitely bringing my husband back. Tourists are in for a real treat when they visit Wave Rock; there is a lot more to this place than the rock. Thanks to your drive and imagination. Am I doing enough with my life? After listening to Sheenagh and what she has achieved, and the challenges she undertakes, with her incredibly positive attitiude is amazing. I could listen to Sheenagh for hours, she is the true salt of the earth; no fuss, just gets on with things. I loved the memory of her father 'there's a dollar to be made in anything, you just need to look', classic! Something so simple has made me open my eyes to many opportunities that I had closed my mind to ...........
........ I wish to acknowledge how inspirational Sheenagh is, the term 'at the heart of the community' comes to mind when you consider what she does. Hyden and the surrounding community are lucky to have her. I really enjoyed this session, Wave Rock was amazing ..........
........ Sheenagh is one of the most amazing women I have had the pleasure to hear from. The power of a positive attitude should never be under-estimated, as Sheenagh put it, 'winning attitude'. Sheenagh's determination has achieved so many varied things for Hyden, yet she acknowledges true 'communities' are not about buildings or infrastructure, they are about people ......
....... The Wildflower Shoppe and Wildlife Park just highlighted what leadership can do for a community. The personal drive of the Mouritz and Collins family to put Hyden on the map is amazing. The way the whole 'buy local' commitment works to circulate every dollar as many times as possible for the benefit of as many people in Hyden as possible was an example of leadership for all ...........