Drink

New Boots offers good cheer

At first glance Newstead , a town with a population of only 572 people would appear to be a little backwater of no consequence, but that’s where you’d be wrong. This is a town that is full of surprises.  A colourful history, a strong arts community and a music festival that attracts performers from around Australia and overseas and that’s only the start. Newstead is also home to New Boots Café.  Established by well-known Newstead identity, Lou Brown, it can be argued the café is a reincarnation of the original Boots Café created by Lou a few decades ago in…

Creswick’s dedicated music venue

Every cloud has a silver lining, an old saying, but never so true than what people have found during Covid. Cameron Ivchenko of Odessa at Leaver’s Hotel in Creswick has used the ‘down time’ over the past twelve months to rebrand the venue.  The first change was to engage a new chef, Kitt Mukaprom and introduce a Thai cuisine.  The first weekend it proved to be a ‘baptism of fire’ for Kitt as they completely sold out both days.  Although Kitt specialises in Thai food, there are other dishes on the menu for those who shy away from spice. As…

Everyone knows a Betty

In a time when hospitality has taken a huge hit due to pandemic lockdowns, it is heartening to see a new cafe opening soon in Ballarat Betty’s Red Star Café is the brainchild of Pia Sims and Nic Bradley who bring with them a breadth of experience in various fields.  Pia has had thirty years – on and off – in hospitality from pizza shops, top Melbourne pubs and restaurants, to the ski fields of Victoria’s High country.  Conversely, she also has vast experience in the funeral industry from directing, mortuary, embalming, coronial transfer and as a celebrant.  Pia has…

A secret no longer

There are those special occasions in life that just have to be perfect.  Be it a wedding or extraordinary event, the right venue is essential and Banyandah Homestead is that right venue. Set in a private, breathtakingly beautiful location, with rolling hills, a magnificent private lake and the natural beauty of Central Victoria, Banyandah Homestead manages to combine simplicity, charm, ultimate privacy with a sophisticated atmosphere.  It didn’t happen overnight.  Sue and Peter Quinlan, owners of Banyandah had a dream, a dream that developed over many decades. The family has always lived in the area of Wattle Flat and enjoyed…

An entrepeneur and a cute caravan

How do you define an entrepreneur?  Most people think of entrepreneurs as high fliers, the huge risk takers of this world, whereas in truth a true entrepreneur is someone who isn’t afraid to take a chance and seeing opportunities no matter how obscure they may seem.  Anthony Faure is an entrepreneur.  Anthony operates a coffee van seen daily outside the IGA supermarket in Creswick and in various spots around Ballarat.  But this isn’t any ordinary coffee van – this is Little Ezra and Olive, a strange name of no particular origin that serves great coffee from the cutest little bubble…

The Pyrenees – it doesn’t get better than this

The Pyrenees has it all. At just over two hours easy drive from Melbourne and an hour from Ballarat and Bendigo, the Pyrenees offers superb wineries, stunning scenery, inspired walking tracks, picnic areas, camping grounds, delicious food and so much more.  A visit to the Pyrenees is an adventure, a place where you can explore and indulge your senses. If you’ve ever deserved a break, this is the year to make it a good one.  Moving beyond one of the most challenging years we can remeber and as we see life slowly, but steadily moving toward a greater state of…

Town support

Living in a small country town locals are very protective of their traders, so when circumstances threaten those businesses, local support comes into its own.  When Covid hit, there was considerable concern for the survival of favourite businesses. Brothers, Jorban and Raj Singh of Creswick’s Smokeytown Café sat down together when the lockdowns first hit and discussed what they would do.  Without hesitation, they agreed that no matter what happened, they would keep the doors open, albeit for take away only, but they knew they had to be seen to still be operating.  Sometimes they were standing in their café,…

Yay – we can dance again

How good is this! From today at 6pm we don’t need masks in retail, although they still need to be carried for public transport and ride sharing. There will be greater seating in restaurants, cafes and other entertainment areas and 75% capacity at AFL football games, but let’s not be too cavalier, we still need to be mindful that there is still a pandemic in play. But the best news is – we can dance again! It is so exciting to be publishing this magazine again, especially with a terrific new look. Like so many Covid hit us hard too…

Onward and Upward

The joy expressed by this visitor to the last Pyrenees Unearthed festival in our opening image, exemplifies the sense of relief we were feeling last week about the prospect of life continuing to return to “normal”. After a year we all want to forget, when so many of our much loved festivals and events were cancelled, it was a delight to see many of them returning to the fold in 2021. That was before we were thrown into lockdown once again. This newsletter was ready to post last week, then came the news of another lockdown. It was a shock,…

Who you gonna call!

This story about snake catcher Gianni Hodgeson appeared in our autumn 2020 issue of Secrets, which was caught up in the very early stages of Covid-19, so it didn’t travel very far. We thought it was worth posting here especially as snakes are still very active. Not many people like snakes, in fact most of us are scared witless just from the thought of accidentally running into one, or worse, finding one in the house or nearby.  However, there is one young man who absolutely loves snakes and is making a living by removing those unwanted visitors. Gianni Hodgeson, has…

Hello – We’re Back

We had a bit of a break over the Christmas/New Year period, but now we are back and getting into the swing of a more hopeful 2021. We are super excited about producing our first hard copy of Secrets since March, 2020. There have been a few attempts to publish earlier, but Covid restrictions loomed large making it unviable. However, it’s time to move on and we will be back soon with a new look and a new website – let’s get on with 2021. A Look Back As we move to a new era for Secrets Magazine, we thought…

Did someone say – go!

Twenty eight days of donuts and now I can fly – well at least with caution. Victoria you have done it. Twenty eight days of no new infections leads the experts to say that we have effectively eliminated Covid in the community. The sense of relief is overwhelming. We still have to be cautious, particularly as borders open, but we know what to do now and none of us want another lockdown. It may be small steps for awhile, however they are steps that are going forward. Enjoy Victoria – you deserve it.Image Donna Crebbin Speaking of Images Ballarat photographer…