Answers to all the Frequently Asked Questions
How are bookings handled?
Bookings are taken in the order in which enquiries are made. If you can provide us with numbers of people and nights, we will provide a quote. Booking dates can be held for one week without deposit to allow retreat organisers to do their research and discuss options with their group. If there is another enquiry for those dates during that week, we will advise you. To secure booking dates, a 25% non-refundable deposit is required.
How do I pay for my retreat?
All payments are non-refundable except in the case of a force majeure event or a major problem of our making. Payments are made in 3 steps:
- a first non-refundable deposit of 25% to secure the booking
- a second non-refundable deposit of 25% 6 weeks prior to booking dates
- a final non-refundable payment of 50% 1 week prior to booking dates.
This three-step payment system allows organisers plenty of time to finalise their numbers. This means that there can be no further changes to bookings after the final payment one week prior to the event.
If by the time of the second deposit the organiser does not have the minimum numbers they require, they can cancel the booking and pay no more.
A security deposit of $500 or $1,000 is required to cover any additional cleaning, breakages, damage or loss when making the third and final payment.
Payments should be made by bank transfer to our account. We do not have EFTPOS or credit card facilities. Our bank account details are given on our quotation/invoice.
How does repayment of the security deposit work?
As a low-cost facility, we expect guests to leave the property as they found it – particularly the kitchen. Security deposits are repaid within 7 days of departure if there are no issues. This gives us time to identify any additional cleaning, damage or loss of property. We do this because some guests in the past have badly damaged the property. Fortunately, this is rare. In most circumstances, full refunds are made. We are not silly about this. We understand that a piece of crockery might get broken – that is part of normal wear and tear. Please let us know if a piece of equipment has failed or has been broken so we can replace it. It is particularly important that children are supervised by adults at all times because most damage to Sine Cera property is caused by unsupervised children.
Do you have a disaster policy (i.e. a force majeure policy) if Sine Cera is not available due to floods or bushfire? What recourse would I have if I had paid the full fee?
The most likely scenario is severe rain that might prevent access to Sine Cera due to flooding in the region – which does happen from time to time. We would try to arrange another set of dates for you and transfer your deposits to those new dates. If that is not possible for some reason, we would refund your payments. We like to stay friends with our guests!
Do guests have to register?
Yes. We ask the organiser of each retreat to complete the Booking Registration Form with details of each guest and contact details of a family member in the case of illness, injury or an emergency. This is forwarded to us at the time of making the final payment one week prior to the event. We take the safety of our guests seriously.
What are check-in and check-out times?
Check-in: after 2 pm; check-out: before 10 am. These times can be changed on request – if it is possible considering the timing of other bookings.
Do you require a minimum number of people attending in order to book?
No, but if you are a small group, we may take other bookings as well. Sine Cera is 100-bed facility so there is plenty of room for all. If you would like the entire property to yourselves, there may be an additional charge.
Will other people be staying at the Retreat at the same time as us?
Possibly. You can ask to have the entire property to yourselves but this will mean an additional charge. Sometimes, of course, it just works out that way. For some retreats, it is not appropriate to have other guests and we understand and respect that. We can chat about your particular needs when you call us.
How is accommodation allocated?
Like all accommodation facilities, rooms are allocated our Manager. Depending on your choice of accommodation (bunk or twin share), we will open up the appropriate number of rooms. Other rooms will remain locked. We do this to reduce unnecessary cleaning and electricity costs and therefore maintain our low prices.
What is the process for checking in and checking out?
When you arrive, please sound your horn to attract the attention of staff or ring the Manager on 02 6636 6176 on the phone in the Fahr House lounge room. Staff will show you your accommodation; explain important rules around use of the kitchen and the expectations we have about how the property should be treated. When you leave, our Manager will inspect the property with the retreat organiser to ensure that it is left in the same condition as you found it.
In what condition should I leave Sine Cera on my departure?
This is important. We are able to offer our facilities at a low cost on the basis that the property will be left in the condition in which you found it. This means you will be responsible for cleaning the facility Page 3 of 6 before you leave – that means sweeping floors in all the areas you have used, ensuring all non- compostable rubbish is removed from the property, cleaning the kitchen to ensure it is free of grease and that stove tops and ovens are cleaned, and that all crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils have been washed properly and returned to their locations. The Manager will do a check on the condition of the buildings with the retreat organiser prior to your departure. He may request further work be done to ensure that your security deposit is returned in full. Any damage done to the property or equipment should also be made known to the Manager. We like to explain this clearly to ensure that our expectations are clear and you can focus on enjoying your stay.
Who do I see for help during my stay?
Our on-site staff will meet the retreat organiser or “single point of contact” on arrival and give a quick orientation of the facilities, including the kitchen and rules relating to rubbish disposal. Communication works best on site if there is a single person from your group, usually the retreat organiser, who can liaise with Sine Cera staff if any issues arise. It is therefore important for the retreat organiser to be the first person to arrive at Sine Cera so our staff can brief them and so that when guests arrive, the retreat organiser can explain which rooms they have been allocated. During your stay, the retreat organiser can contact our on-site Manager via a telephone in Fahr House. Please follow his guidance while on site so both guests and facilities are kept safe. It is our general approach to leave guests to enjoy the site undisturbed by staff.
Can I move furniture?
Please discuss this with our Manager. Obviously, there are some limits to this. Moving furniture also creates the risk of damage to furniture, floors and walls. Any furniture that is moved must be replaced in its original position before departure.
Is linen available?
Yes. Please get in touch to talk about your needs. Linen is charged out at $20 per person per week.
Are there air conditioners and heaters?
There are two reverse-cycle air conditioners in the Chalet Meeting Room. There is also an air conditioner in the lounge of Fahr House. There are small, portable fan heaters (for cooling and heating) in each of the bedrooms. There is a slow combustion fire place in Fahr House Lounge and another one in the Dining Hall.
Can you organise caterers?
Yes, we can provide contact details for several caterers who are familiar with Sine Cera. Some can do vegan and vegetarian meals. Please make your arrangements directly with the caterer to ensure your menu preferences and budgets are fully understood. You also pay them directly.
What kitchen facilities do you have?
We have a large commercial kitchen. We can send you a document (with photographs) that outlines its equipment. It is important for the health and safety of guests that the kitchen is kept clean and tidy at all times. Our Manager will orientate you to the kitchen facilities when you arrive.
Where are the nearest shops?
Kyogle has a supermarket – a 40 minute drive south. If self-catering, please ensure you bring all the food you need.
How do I manage my rubbish?
This is important. Effective waste disposal is essential to ensure the health and safety of guests and to ensure our unique environment is protected. There is no rubbish removal service available in our area so, as is the case with many similar wilderness retreats, we ask you to take your rubbish with you. Please follow carefully the instructions of staff about sorting your kitchen rubbish into the appropriate bins. Organic (vegetable) waste can be composted on site. Guests are responsible for removing all meats, paper, plastics, bottles, nappies and sanitary napkins from the site. Each guest is supplied with a rubbish bag to assist in this process.
Do you have walking tracks on the property?
Yes. There is a demanding Ridge Walk that takes you up to the top of the ridge at the southern side of the property. There are ropes in some sections of this walk to help you up. There is an extension of this walk that takes you to Mount Matthee where there are spectacular views of Sine Cera and the entire region. There are shorter and easier walks along the creek. We have maps on site that show the tracks.
What other activities are available at Sine Cera?
Table tennis and billiards are available in the activities section of the main Dining Hall. Due to loss and damage in the past, this equipment requires a cash deposit paid on site that will be refunded when the equipment is returned undamaged. Most damage to the building and equipment is caused by children. Please ensure children are supervised and notify the Manager of any damage. There are also swimming holes in the creek that is on the property. Bird-watching is also popular. The Border Ranges National Park, and its many fascinating walks and lookouts, is only 20 minutes away by car.
Are trail bikes allowed at Sine Cera?
No. This rule is in place to protect our environment, and for the peaceful enjoyment of other guests and our neighbours.
What other activities are available in the area?
Border Ranges National Park – many walking trails through ancient forests, spectacular lookouts. See: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/border-ranges-national-park
Rabbit Proof Fence Walking Trail – follows the ancient Aboriginal walking trail from Mt Gipps at the Qld NSW Border to Mt Lindsay.
Border Loop Railway – the historically significant railway spiral and tunnels.
Wilson’s Robotic Dairy – 15 minutes north of Kyogle along Summerland Way – 02 6636 4254 or 0428 364254 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Horseshoe Park Pony Rides – Lot 3 Wainwrights Rd, Kyogle.
Rosealynd House – restored historic home (1900 – Federation style) in Kyogle.
Daley’s Fruit Tree Nursery – 36 Daleys Ln, Kyogle.
Please check the internet for the latest details on the above.
Can I have a camp fire at Sine Cera?
Yes, we have a couple of fire pits on the site. You can collect wood from the property or bring your own. These pits can only be used when government fire warnings allow. Please consult our Manager before lighting a fire. In summer, there is usually a complete fire ban and therefore fires are prohibited.
What should I bring to Sine Cera?
Bring any games, push bikes or sporting equipment you would like to use that will not pose a risk to other guests. Bring walking shoes, hats, sunglasses, water bottles and backpacks for walks. Bring books, dvds, games for wet weather situations. Bring marshmallows for campfires. Bring binoculars for bird-watching and star gazing. Bring insect repellent in case any bugs bother you.
Is smoking allowed?
No. Smoking is prohibited in all buildings and within a range of 50 m from any building. Cigarette smoke is very strong and creates a lingering smell if it blows into buildings. Extreme caution should also be taken in disposing of cigarette butts. Cigarettes must not be disposed of in the grounds of Sine Cera due to the risk of fire.
Does Sine Cera have a policy about the consumption of alcohol or drugs?
We permit sensible alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption should always be at moderate levels so as not to endanger any person or damage property. Illegal drugs are not allowed on the property. For weddings and parties, a bond of $1,000 is required to cover any loss or damage.
Is there a curfew on celebratory activities such as weddings?
The legally-enforceable curfew on loud noise is 11 pm. Excessive noise beyond that time may involve complaints from residents in the valley and warrant a visit from the local police. As long as the noise from music etc. is reasonable, we are happy to let the celebration continue until midnight. We close down activities at this time for the sake of our hard-working staff who live on the property. They need their beauty sleep!
What safety risks are there for guests, including children?
We do our best to reduce risks to guests by keeping the buildings and grounds well maintained. However, any rural environment has inherent risks and dangers. Sine Cera is in a remote location where expert medical aid and limits to communications may mean delays in assistance in the event of injury. Children should be supervised by adults at all times. In staying at Sine Cera, guests acknowledge and agree that it would be unreasonable for Sine Cera to be in any way responsible for any injury unless Sine Cera is willfully negligent. Guests thereby waive, to the full extent permitted by law, all their legal rights of action against and fully release Morningside C.A.R.E. Inc. (the charity that owns Sine Cera), its office bearers, directors, employees or agents for loss, damages, injury or death howsoever arising out of or in relation to the participation by guests in activities undertaken at Sine Cera.
What is Sine Cera’s phone number if someone needs to contact me urgently?
The landline is (02) 6636 6176. This phone is not always attended but there is the ability to leave a message.
Is there mobile phone coverage?
It is intermittent at best and depends on your provider. A walk up one of the hills may connect you, but it is best not to rely on having connectivity.
Is the internet available?
No, however, the Manager has an NBN satellite service in an emergency. It’s best to think of Sine Cera as a place free from such distractions.
Are dogs and other pets allowed?
No. Sine Cera is home to many endangered species and guests enjoy the sight of wildlife close to buildings at Sine Cera. The Manager has a small dog but he is highly trained not to bother wildlife.
Are there dangerous pests at Sine Cera?
In spring and summer there are snakes, some of which are dangerous. Always take care when walking in the bush. There are grass ticks and leaches (particularly in wet weather) so insect repellent in the case of the former, and a small bottle of salt for the latter, is a good idea. At various times of the year, there are some flies, mosquitoes and midges but they are not a major problem for most guests.
What happens in the case of a health emergency at Sine Cera?
The nearest ambulance service is in Kyogle 40 minutes away. Basic first aid materials are held on site in a cupboard in the Dining Hall. We ask all retreat organisers to complete a Booking Registration Form listing all participants and contact details of a family member if an emergency arises.
Are First Aid materials available at Sine Cera?
Yes, we have a well-stocked first aid kit in the Dining Room. It is always a good idea, however, for guests to have their own small kit they can carry with them if they plan on doing any bushwalking. A first aid kit in the Dining Room is not much use if you get injured a few miles away on a bushwalk.
What happens in the case of a building fire or a bushfire at Sine Cera?
All guests should familiarise themselves with the fire emergency procedures posted in each of the accommodation blocks. In the case of a fire emergency, guests should follow the instructions of staff. Under advice from the Rural Fire Service, we maintain the grounds to reduce the risk of fire.
Where can I get more information?
Mob: 0438 300 450 (Irwan)