Eat

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…

Looking after locals

There has been a fair amount of negative press on the metal health and wellbeing on people during Covid and yes, there are difficulties, there’s no denying.  However, there is also been an increase in thoughtfulness and caring for others – at least in this part of the world. We have heard it from businesses who were supported during the lockdowns and who are seeing a distinct increase in custom since the doors started opening.   Neighbours who regularly checked with their neighbours to ensure they were okay.  There have been stories of all sorts of kind gestures. This one came…

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…

From PR to Peanut Brittle

It’s easy to see that Greta Donaldson, owner and operator of ‘Bendigo Brittle – Gold for Your Gob’ has a background in Public Relations.  Her eye catching presentation cart, decorated in black and pink made me stop to chat to her at a local market a year or so ago.  However, with Covid lockdown and the cessation of markets I hadn’t come across her for some time, so it was an absolute delight to receive a gorgeous presentation box of her brittle in the mail.  The move from PR to gob smackingly good brittle is a stretch in anyone’s book. …

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,…

The natural way to unwind

The Covid pandemic threw up a whole new concept for living that for many proved to be stressful. Lockdowns meant separation from family and friends, working from home, parents being teachers, Zoom meetings – it seemed that our lives were controlled by the internet.  Little wonder that so many suffered cyber overload. There is a place where you can recover from those negative vibes.  Imagine no phones ringing constantly, just peace and quiet and communing with nature.  Banyandah Homestead Cabin on the Lake is a stunning farm, close to everything if you need it to be and yet private.  The…

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…

Mica Grange Open Garden

Each weekend from 27 March to 25 April plus Easter Monday, the spectacular gardens of Mica Grange with their panoramic views across the Sutton Grange valley will open for their Autumn Sculpture and Garden Art Exhibition. The opening features sculptors from Victoria, South Australia and regional NSW, plus a vast range of garden art, plants and preserves.  The exhibition provides garden lovers with an abundance of creative ideas to enhance the beauty and enjoyment of their own gardens. Group bookings are available weekdays only. This autumn Mica Grange is catering in eco friendly boxes and coffee cups.  Soft drinks will…

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…