Project 49’s Italian-style tomato sugo

Words & Images: Richard Cornish

In the heart of Beechworth is a little café and providore. Set in an historic building a few doors up from the Kelly Bar at Tanswell’s Hotel Project 49 has become part of the town’s fabric. For the past eight years it has been the place locals go for a cup of coffee and an egg and bacon corn roll in the morning and for a bowl of soup and pasta for lunch. It was the pasta sauce that Lisa and her kitchen team were making that had everyone turning their heads as the rich aroma of cooking tomatoes filled Beechworth’s broad main street. The sauces are based on tomato sugo that Lisa had been making for years to an old family recipe.

“Dad was from San Danielle in Northern Italy, and we would make the sugo, like many expat Italians, in the backyard at Pasco Vale,” she says. “He would store them in his cantina under the house with the salume over winter,” she remembers.

Mum and dad have gone now so making the sugo is a link back to them.

Lisa makes her Project 49 Sugo in small 40 litre batches in the kitchen in Beechworth using ripe tomatoes. She bottles it beer stubbies in remembrance of the Melbourne Bitter longnecks her dad used. The sugo is rich, thick capturing the essence and nature of the ripest tomatoes. It is rich enough to be heated, seasoned and used as a basic pasta sauce but makes a great base for a Bolognese or amatriciana. It can be bought at Bar Rosella in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. Rosella is owned by Rocco Esposito with whom she founded Project 49. It can also be bought directly from Project 49 along with great salume and compact collection of organic and biodynamic wines.

What: Hand made tomato sugo 360ml/$6.50  720ml/$12
When: Now
Where: Buy from Bar Rosella in Fitzroy or Project 49 in Beechworth

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.


The staffing crisis facing our hospitality industry

Words: Della Vreeland
Images: Supplied

‘We’re at a bit of a loss at the moment.’ Daniel Greenwood says as he contemplates how his business is expected to move forward in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The hospitality industry seems to be facing a crisis of sorts, with cafes and restaurants the country-over desperately seeking chefs, wait staff and front-of-house workers – to no avail.

The head chef at Hurstbridge’s Restaurant St. Lawrence, Daniel says his already small team of three is on the hunt for another two staff members in order to optimise its service. And with his wife Emily (the restaurant’s pastry chef) currently expecting their first child, the hunt for some newbies is all the more pressing.

“We haven’t needed staff up until this point. Only now that my wife’s pregnant, we have a limited amount of time left and so we’ve been trying to find somebody to work for us,’ Daniel says. ‘It seems like post-COVID, it’s trickier than what it would’ve been otherwise.’

Daniel and Emily opened up the 25-seater Restaurant St. Lawrence in August 2019, only six months before COVID well and truly infiltrated Australia’s shores. Throughout the pandemic, they were able to make-do, showcasing their culinary finesse on the plate with a stunning rotating seasonal menu, takeaway offerings and an accompanying bakeshop. Both Daniel and Emily previously worked at the hatted restaurant Levantine Hill (as Sous Chef and Pastry Chef respectively) before deciding to make the move to Hurstbridge to start up a venture of their own.

‘We’ve both been in the industry a long time and have seen in the past that when businesses and restaurants are looking for staff, it’s relatively easy to find people who are keen and eager to work – even sometimes to do trials and internships or anything. Now it’s really the polar opposite. There’s nobody around at all.

‘It’s not ideal and I want to say there’s a lack of skilled workers more than anything else. It’s not that there’s nobody out there, there’s just nobody with relative industry experience, and nobody who wants to work in the industry.’

A decrease in skilled migration

According to the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association (RC&A) of Australia, the closure of international borders over the past two years meant that Australia missed out on an entire wave of skilled migrants.

‘These workers were critical to Australia’s hospitality sector and we’re hoping that now things are re-opening we can at least try to make up for lost-ground,’ says RC&A CEO Wes Lambert.

‘(Further), the ways that visas are processed in this country to bring in skilled workers from overseas is extremely slow, convoluted and expensive. People want to come to Australia to work and our venues want to bring in the very best. We just don’t think that’s happening right now.

‘It would be wrong to say that things were perfect even before the COVID-19 pandemic however, the situation that we find ourselves in now is far, far, worse obviously. Now that borders have reopened we hope to see an influx of people coming back to Australia or even for the first time. We really think that the government needs to take steps to encourage international workers to come to this country to work.’

These thoughts are echoed by owners of Ballarat’s laneway cafe Hydrant Food Hall Elise and Sam Rowe, who have also been struggling with staffing shortages and who have noted the direct correlation between border closures and the staffing crisis.

‘From what we have seen and experienced, the border closures within Australia and internationally, has meant that the travelling employee has been stationary,’ says Elise. ‘Hospitality and tourism is a fabulous industry for people to work as a casual while utilising time off to travel.

‘We have also seen many university courses transition to majority online study, which means the need for students to move to Ballarat has reduced in numbers. Again, hospitality is a suitable industry for students as a casual job to fit around the typical on-site class timetable. These students have not been arriving to town in the same numbers as they used to be. Venues in the Metro region are also feeling the pinch a bit. The larger population will be helpful in terms of the number of people looking for work, but many of the challenges that regional venues are facing are also true for metro too.’

The deeper issue

According to Elise, the industry as a whole has witnessed many experienced and qualified employees leave due to it not being able to provide a secure income yet demanding stringent work conditions – something that the COVID pandemic cast an unsettling spotlight on.

‘These two factors are not overly attractive for many people, and for those who had inklings for a new career restart, they have taken the opportunity to study online over the past couple of years and a new work life.’

A hospitality union Hospo Voices spokesperson said over the pandemic, workers were treated like a ‘shock absorber for changes in the business cycle, suddenly losing their shifts and hours from one day to the next’.

‘We must remember the real reason bosses can’t find workers –  trained, experienced workers have quit the industry in droves – is because they are fed up with wage theft and insecure work. Four out of five workers are casual in this industry – the highest rate of any industry,’ they said.

‘We are seeing some venues offer sign-on bonuses and other inducements, but the danger is workers will find the rug pulled from underneath them when competition for workers starts to ease off.

‘Our key piece of advice for hospo workers right now – use this shortage to demand secure employment.’

But Wes says such claims are not only wrong but entirely unhelpful when trying to revitalise a struggling industry.

‘The unions like to shine a light on example of wage theft, which is fair, but then go way too far in characterising this as an industry-wide problem that will 100% happen to anyone who even dares to take up a job in hospitality,’ he says. ‘We know this problem is decreasing and all workers should be getting their appropriate pay.

 ‘In terms of “insecure work”, you can walk down any street in any town or city in Australia and I guarantee you that nearly every restaurant and café that you see will have a sign in the window advertising full-time or part-time work.

 ‘It seems quite silly to me that the unions are so concerned about “insecure work” and yet demonise the one industry crying out for people to fill part-time and full-time roles.’

Education and reconceptualising hospitality

Elise says that moving forward, it’s crucial to think about the next generation of workers – educating and supporting them with sound advice about the industry and the career opportunities that it can provide.

She says as a community, society and government, it was important to showcase the value in the industry and not to underestimate its economic impact.

‘We also need to be teaching them about work ethic, persistence, responsibility, resilience, loyalty and teamwork,’ she says. ‘Hospitality is an industry of face-to-face, the enjoyment of people, and the stage of giving. We need to ensure that future generations are given these life skills.

‘The demand for quality food and coffee is increasing, and quality friendly service is an important part that comes along with that. It’s a creative industry full of design and colour, a science-based industry, an industry of numbers and formulas, an industry of events, an industry of local suppliers, an industry based on consumer behaviour, an industry that requires effective marketing, and of course an industry of mathematics and sales.’

Wes agrees that government and industry must work together to encourage more Australians to take up hospitality as a career as opposed to a transient, ‘in-between’ job.

‘Part of this comes with better engagement at schools, mentoring from experts and a changing of our culture,’ he says.

Working within their means

Until the situation improves, business owners are needing to work with what they have and make the most of what is indeed a trying situation for all those in the industry.

Even though lockdowns are a thing of the past, Hydrant Food Hall continues to have times where it needs to close up shop due to its staff needing to isolate – something eateries simply cannot afford in the wake of the pandemic.

‘Attempting to lift staff morale and engagement during times of uncertainty has had its challenges,’ Elise says. ‘We have noticed that people’s motivation to focus and actively work has been lower than previous years. There has been an element of long-term fatigue that everyone brings with them.

‘(But) now that the government restrictions have lifted, so too has morale and enjoyment at work. People are beginning to move about again, applications are arriving, and there are smiles. We have definitely had our moments of exhaustion and frustration during these times, but our belief in our business and our product, and genuine enjoyment for the venue, helped us to keep our eye on the future and do everything we can to ensure that the service our customers have grown to know and love, will be the thing to bring them back and so too will the staff and their workplace enjoyment.

‘The challenge now is having staff who can fill the roster to the demand of growing the business.’

For Daniel and Emily, the current challenge means capping their service to 25 so it remains manageable.

‘That’s what it will mean for a lot of other places,’ Daniel says. ‘Work within your means rather than trying to really push and trying to be busier.

‘The irony of it all is we wanted to open our place a bit closer to home and we wanted to cook for ourselves and do things on our own terms and that’s been taken away from us a bit.’

A discovery of the St Andrews village

Words by Della Vreeland

A one hour drive north-east of Melbourne, St Andrews is a small rural township that is characterised by its lush native bushlands and charming village aesthetic.

While its bustling weekly market acts as one of its major drawcards, the town is fast becoming known as an all-around hub of creativity, with a range of boutique businesses showcasing the versatility of talent and wonder inherent within. We give you a glimpse of exactly what this quaint community has to offer travellers with this specially curated itinerary.

Secrets of St Andrews and Surrounds

Words by Teyha Nicholas

We suspect the rocky hills of St Andrews have heard plenty of ‘Eurekas!’

The prosperous gold-mining town of the 1800s (then known as Queenstown) has transformed into a thriving, tight-knit community of artisans, winemakers and lovers of the quiet life. Located in Woi Wurrung country just 45 minutes drive north-west of the CBD, St Andrews is positioned where the city slips away and becomes country – with ample fresh air and attractions for all.

You may have visited the famed Saturday market, but the whole region is an explorers dream with an array of quality wineries, divine cafes, restaurants and local galleries.

Take a gander through our itinerary for all the weekend plans.

Gallery 7 Six 5

St Andrews GalleryFine art nestled in the redgums.

This regional gallery merges global thinking with local aesthetic within a charming old barn on the edge of Watson’s Creek. Owned and curated by artist Benny Archer, Gallery 7 Six 5 is home to some of Nillumbik’s finest pieces – from ceramics to large scale abstract paintings and metal works. A gallery par excellence for voyeurs, buyers, and collectors in search of ambience and inspiration.

Details here.

Panton Hill Winery

Panton Hill WineryStep back in time amongst the sandstone buildings.

In what could be described as outer Melbourne’s miniature Tuscany, Panton Hill manages to deliver on all the niceties one hopes for in a winery. Fruit-driven, handpicked wines prove silky on the palate and woodfired pizza on the weekends compliment the warm Southern European aesthetic. A day spent amongst these vineyards feels like a world away from the inner-city bustle.

Visit here.

Greasy Zoe’s

Restaurant HurstbridgeWord of mouth has built Greasy Zoe’s into an establishment.

Once described as hospitality’s response to the tiny-home movement, this intimate venue seats just 32 guests per week and features a new six or eight-course degustation menu daily. Curated, prepared and served by Zoe and her partner Lachlan, the food is locally grown with an emphasis on sustainable and ethical farming practices. Certainly the most honest farm to table dining experience north of the river.

Take a look here.

Black Vice Cafe & Roastery

Black Vice Cafe & RoasteryFeaturing a three-page menu of speciality coffee.

The polished concrete interior of Black Vice houses another highly precious material: coffee beans. Thousands of them, roasted, cupped, extracted and drunk en masse by locals and Melbournian’s alike travelling for one of their famous brews. Paired with clean, delicate dishes for breakfast and lunch, the cafe feels at once entirely cosmopolitan yet charmingly at home snuggled within tree-lined suburbia.

Find out more here.

Nillumbik Estate

Nillumbik EstateWhere visitors come for the wines and stay for the hospitality.

At just 45-minutes drive from the city, it’s hard to think of reasons not to visit Nillumbik Estate. Tucked away in the Kinglake Ranges, the winery boasts a bountiful selection of reds, whites and sparklings made with traditional Italian techniques. Head winemaker John Tregambe has been known to host a decadent barrel tasting or two.

Find out more here.

Punch Wine Room

Punch Wine RoomThe little winery that could.

The Lance Family winemakers know the value of community spirit. A truly collaborative process from vine to glass, their acclaimed wines–though greatly damaged by the 2009 bushfires–can now be found at top-tier restaurants around the city; Attica, Quay and Press Club to drop names. Skip the eye watering tab and take one home yourself at this cellar door.

Learn more here. 



Feeling inspired for your own road trip around the St Andrews region? Well, the crew from have put together a handy trail map to explore all these experiences and more.



St Andrews Collective

St Andrews CollectiveLocal produce, carefully curated.

The new kid on the block that has swiftly become a staple member of the Nillumbik family. Tucked into the rolling hills on a small corner of the Yarra Valley, the providore feels both whimsical, indulgent and singularly sensible. A place for the necessities; cheese, milk, bread, with room for newfound delights; orange and native rosemary marmalade. Nobody will stop you from eating cheese on the front lawn.

Details here.

A Boy Named Sue

A Boy Named SueA name that lingers in the mind; flavours that linger on the palate.

Rarely does a local pizzeria become such an institution. Huddled next to Punch Wine Room and St Andrews Collective on top of a grassy knoll, A Boy Named Sue serves wood-fired, thin-crust pizzas alongside a plethora of drinks, sides and alternate mains within a warmly renovated mud-brick building. Vegans, vegetarians and children are well catered for, and on Saturday the local market next door keeps this restaurant abuzz with hungry customers.

Take a look around here.

Buttermans Track Wines

Buttermans Track WinesWhere minimal intervention produces a premium drop.

Beside the winding, tree-lined Yow Yow Creek lies a micro, family-owned and operated winery boasting complex, fruit-driven wines. Head Winemaker Gary frequently impresses visitors with his in-depth knowledge of wine and the winemaking process during his Cellar Door tastings. Made in small batches with minimal chemical and technological intervention, these wines sing the praises of tender hands and perfectly ripened grapes.

More details here.

Shaws Road Winery

Shaws Road WineryGood wine, tasty food and country living.

As the famed song goes, you can check out any time you like, but at Shaws Road Winery you may never want to leave. Part winery, part restaurant and full-time Bed & Breakfast, Shaws Road offers the full package for a relaxing weekend getaway. Family owned and operated, this estate bottles quality wines across three small vineyards and serves them up alongside tasty, locally grown meals at their in-house restaurant. Drink up and stay the night.

Make plans here.

Omaru Alpaca Farm

Omaru Alpaca FarmBeyond wineries, St Andrews is also home to a bevy of alpacas.

What better way to round off your trip to St Andrews than some quality time with ever fluffy, often troublesome alpacas? The herd residing at Omaru have spent many hours with their human companions, making them ideal for children looking for an up-close Attenborough experience. Feed them hay, ogle at the babies in the mid-year months and spread out a picnic rug amongst the hills – just don’t forget to dress for the occasion (alpacas are known to spit!).

Details here.

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Seriously good bagels are happening at Out of Order cafe in Bendigo

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

Despite society’s best efforts to eschew carbohydrates, the humble bagel has us in a chokehold. From its beginnings in Europe through to its migration to the U.S and Australia, the delicious ring-shaped bread has stirred up deep and fierce loyalties. The latest town in the bagel grip? Bendigo, thanks to a forward-thinking, bread-loving couple.

Kelsey and Taylor, two Bendigo locals with a wealth of hospitality experience behind them, have built Out of Order cafe, a speciality bagel and coffee shop serving classic, crowd-pleasing bagels for breakfast and lunch.

“We’d been playing around with the idea of opening our own place for a little while. Somewhere that we can have more creative control,” Kelsey tells me of the venture.

Within two months of deciding to take the small-business gamble, the couple had found a location in the heart of town and were busting open Bendigo’s food repertoire of toasted sandwiches and meat pies. They wanted New York style, stuffed-to-the-brim bagels that give your jaw muscles a workout, and they found it. Needless to say, the locals are loving it.

5 & Dime Bagels are delivered fresh daily from Melbourne and packed full on sight with fresh, local ingredients. Their menu boasts classics like the Reuben and the Lox, as well as plant-based options for the vegans out there. Of course, cream cheese (both the dairy and dairy-free versions) features heavily — a fact sure to please bagel traditionalists.

Micro roastery Coffee Cartel from Geelong provide the beans, which in the hands of their expert barista, is a combination no one can resist.

“It is going really well. We’ve got some awesome regulars that are coming in every day. That makes us feel that we’re doing something right,” Kelsey explains.

Chewiness, delightfulness and freshness is the Out of Order promise. Some good vibes, as the A-frame sign outside their front door says, can also be expected.

WHAT: Out of Order cafe
WHEN: Open Monday to Friday 6am – 2pm, Saturday 8am – 2pm
WHERE: 352 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo
MORE INFO: Out of Order

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Miss Amelie Gourmet ticks all the boxes

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

Picture this –it’s a lazy Friday afternoon and you’ve knocked off early. You’ve snagged a prime spot for a little people-watching on the wide, shady balcony of Beechworth’s newest spot. Take your time sipping some local vino while you graze through a delicious selection of cheese and charcuterie. This is what it’s all about at Miss Amelie Gourmet, the third location from co-owners chef David Kapay and businessman Ken Little.

David Kapay began to make a name for himself locally when in 2016 he opened Miss Amelie restaurant in the historic former Wodonga railway station. The fine dining establishment serving modern European cuisine soon became a destination, along with Little Miss, its petit cocktail bar next door.

Fast forward to 2020 and the Covid-19 reality of hospitality, David saw a chance to share his love of good food beyond the hobbled business model of the restaurant.

I started making some pies at a mate’s bakery and before you knew it Miss Amelie Gourmet was created. We opened our Wodonga location then we opened up a retail outlet in Albury. This one (in Beechworth) is the next step up.

And what a step it is. Located on the corner of Ford and Camp streets in the centre of town, the 150-year building has been home to several pubs, a few cafes and even a fish and chip joint at one stage. David and business partner Ken worked closely with local trades to breathe new life back into the building which had been vacant for several years.

The result is a stunning two-level licensed café/restaurant that is set to become Beechworth’s most exciting food destination yet.

Looking for a weekend spot to spread out the paper whilst sipping an espresso? Check – coffee coming right up with beans from Albury roastery Platform 9 Coffee Roasters. Got a craving for freshly churned Italian-style gelato? Yep, what flavour would you like? Someone special got a birthday coming up? Choose from a pastry case piled high with all manner of tempting treats or order one of their spectacular celebration cakes. Can’t be bothered cooking but still want to eat well? Grab one of their take-home meals for you to simply heat and eat.

Whatever you do, just don’t miss out on the medal-winning pies that started this whole thing off. Baked fresh at their Wodonga headquarters, the crowd-pleasing pies are now stocked in all three of Miss Amelie Gourmet’s locations as well as more than a dozen regional outlets. With flavours like Thai Red Curry Duck, Tasmanian Scallop & King Salmon Chowder and their newest creation the BBB (Beef, Bacon & Bridge Road Brewers Pale Ale) good luck choosing your new favourite.


WHAT: Miss Amelie Gourmet
WHERE: 85 Ford St, Beechworth
WHEN: Mon to Thurs 7am – 4pm, Fri to Sat 7am – 7pm, Sunday 8am to 4pm

We wish to acknowledge traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Pollen Coffee & Objects – the name says it all

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

If you’ve been in Kyneton’s busy commercial precinct recently, you may have noticed a shiny, new café right by the intersection of High and Mollison streets, Pollen Coffee & Objects. The newest café in town may not be about poached eggs and smashed avocado but it is about people coming together. The name was chosen to reflect that very idea of cross pollination, that basically ‘we all need each other in order to survive.’

Rene Spence and Ruth Laird Spence met 20 plus years ago at Edinburgh Uni and Melbourne’s hospitality scene wouldn’t be the same without them. Rene is part owner of Melbourne’s popular Uncle restaurants. Ruth worked at MoVida and Da Noi before jumping ship for a career in ceramics. Ruth’s Fork Ceramics have graced many a restaurant table and her joyous pieces will now be available from Pollen.

The café and store will celebrate a raft of other local makers, including Jess Wootten with his beautifully crafted leather aprons, Emily Dellios with her furniture and homewares, and Froni Binns with her porcelain jewellery to name but a few.

Of course, that Pollen exists at all is as much down to the stars aligning as it is to the couple’s grit. Like many hospo couples, the pair juggle work and a young family, and for Rene, a psychology degree.

Ruth and I have been speaking of doing a small coffee shop in Kyneton just to simplify our lives. We’ve been toying with it for years, backwards and forwards. Actually, we finally put the idea to bed then the space that we’d always wanted just came up.

Over the next several months, they transformed the shopfront into a light, airy and welcoming space. Upon entering, your eye is immediately drawn to the unique, hand-crafted counter crafted from hempcrete, an idea that’s been on Ruth’s mind for years.

‘It’s a building material that you usually use for houses so it’s really sustainable. You actually mix hemp plant with concrete-setting lime. The person that built it for us mixed through some ochres in different colours and tapped it down in layers.’

Initially, they will be just serving quality coffee (Proud Mary Coffee and Inglenook Dairy milk) and sweet treats. The menu will slowly extend over the next few weeks with a simple, yet scrumptious, selection of pressed sandwiches.


WHAT: Pollen Coffee & Objects
WHERE: 5 High St, Kyneton
WHEN: Wednesday – Friday 9am to 3pm, Saturdays to come
MORE INFO: @pollen_kyneton

We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Regional pride on a plate at Bendigo’s Forage cafe

Words by Amanda Kennedy

Balance between front and back of house is the key to success, according to Tim Dalton and Naomi Dawson, founders of Forage, a newly opened café in Strathfieldsaye, south-east of Bendigo. The pair met while working at local institution Bendigo Wholefoods before beginning work on the long-held dream of a café firmly rooted in the region’s produce.

The dynamic duo hit the ground running, opening mid-December and barely stopping for breath along the way. Thankfully, they’ve mostly avoided any closures due to staff shortages that have hit many hospitality venues across the state.

After several years running their own farms in the region, Tim and Naomi came together to create a place with that warm, inviting vibe of a friend’s home. The 55-seat converted-weatherboard café does just that, complete with indoor plants hanging from an old ladder and colourful paintings from local artists adorning the walls.

The words ‘local and seasonal’ underplay the direct link Forage has to its produce, with the majority coming from their own land. Tim explains – ‘I’ve got a farm – 200 acres – about half an hour from where the shop is. We run merino sheep and we’ve got a big veggie garden as well.’

No slouch herself, Naomi and her partner also run a farm, this time just outside of Heathcote from which to draw produce and inspiration. A constant trickle of house-made preserves and pickles will flesh out the café menu as well as being available for retail sale.

The café’s menu is a thoughtful curation of breakfast and lunch options featuring plenty of farm-fresh produce. There will also be an ever-changing list of specials showcasing what’s being harvested that week or as Tim so eloquently put it –

I’ve got a crap load of zucchini at the moment. So, I was able to bring in a big bucket of the ones I picked in the morning and Naomi put a special on for the weekend.

This focus on balance extends to opening hours as well. The café runs from Wednesday to Sundays so that the pair get to spend time with respective life partners and also get their hands dirty back on the farm. Afterall, farms don’t run themselves.


WHAT: Forage Bendigo
WHERE: 917 Wellington Street, Strathfieldsaye
WHEN: Wednesday – Sunday 6am – 2:30pm

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Bluette on Bear, Inverloch’s new ‘it’ cafe

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

Bear Street Inverloch is home to artists and makers from many fields. Creators, like the rest of us, need caffeinating and feeding. Perfect timing then for new cafe, Bluette on Bear, to open in this burgeoning art hub on Bear Street.

Coffee is supplied by Maker Coffee Melbourne, a small roastery in Richmond who source from around the globe to create their unique coffee blends. It’s little wonder, their lattes are becoming renowned throughout the seaside town.

One quick glance at the Bluette on Bear Instagram will reveal the cafe’s commitment to presentation, not only in their food but also across the venture as a whole, from the ceramics for the chai by local Bass coast ceramicist Ship Wreck Ceramics to the carefully sourced preloved dining tables.

It’s an aesthetic borne of the owner’s previous incarnation Tasmin’s Table, a small-scale dining event company with such high demand it quickly amassed a year-long waiting list, as well as sister venue The Borough Dept. Store, a café/store in Korumburra.

After a soft opening, the crew have settled in and will be expanding the menu over the next several weeks.

‘We’ll be doing cocktails from the same concept with beautiful flowers and botanicals with homemade ingredients to make that a bit of a difference,’ explains the manager Amelia who also had a hand in the overall branding and design.

Choose from the cosy yet elegant main dining area or sit outside in the newly-established perennial flower garden while you sample the glistening buns and plump danishes courtesy of The Invy Baker.

‘Each week he uses different fruits on his danishes. This week we have nectarine and pistachio and last week it was cherries. The pastries come in warm and as soon as he walks in the cafe just smells like a bakery in Europe.’

Bluette is the kind of place you experience meal envy; you know, that feeling that the table next to you might have ordered better. Well, you’ll just have to make a return visit. After all, those lavender martinis, rosemary gin & tonics and rhubarb bellinis won’t drink themselves.


WHAT: Bluette on Bear
WHERE: 17 Bear St, Inverloch
WHEN: Mon – Fri 7am – 2:30pm, Sat & Sun 7:30am – 2:30pm
MORE INFO: Bluette on Bear

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Not-so-general store and cafe LYDIARD General to open in Ballarat

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

A new cafe and general store is set to open up shop in Ballarat later this month. Serving up warming local fare and featuring its own accompanying gift and homewares shop, LYDIARD General has been dubbed a ‘destination to delight’. After selling another business 15 months earlier, owner Rachel Sheehan says the opening of the cafe was a case of the right time and the right business opportunity.

Located in the historic northern precinct of Lydiard Street, the storefront was originally opened in the early 1900s as a greengrocer before being bought by a fruiterer and confectioner. Fast forward 100 years, and the store remains true to its prior life as a retail space. Its interior walls are also covered from roof to floor with the local newspapers of yesteryear as a nod to its rich history.

While LYDIARD general will predominantly be a cafe showcasing local produce and ingredients as much as possible, it will also stock a broad selection of general goods and gifts including indoor plants (Rachel is particularly excited about her cacti range), planters, candles and diffusers, accessories and specially-branded bling.

The cafe’s exterior wall is also adorned with a vibrant floral mural by Ballarat artisan Tegan Crosbie, whose psychedelic earrings will be stocked at the store.

‘It may be small but (the store) will come with a big punch,’ Rachel says. ‘Wait at the window bench, lounge in the laneway, sit inside while you sip on a Coffee Supreme latte, or simply let time pass by.’

Whether it’s a coffee, a crisp toastie, a warming chai or tea, or a window shopping experience, LYDIARD general is indeed set to delight. But the one thing that acts as Rachel’s predominant goal is the creation of community.

‘I want to create a space that is inviting, comfortable and interesting. I want customers to feel at home, nearly like they are at my home, at my kitchen table, having a cuppa and a chat.’


WHERE: 313 Lydiard St North, Soldiers Hill
WHEN: Opening end of October, Monday – Saturday

We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.