Burst of Fresh Energy into Loddon Valley

Published on 26 May 2017

A burst of fresh energy has been injected into the business community of Loddon Valley, with a brace of new stores opening their doors over recent months.

Boort and Inglewood have been the main beneficiaries, with the arts, holiday accommodation, food and hospitality the key drivers.

Boort has seen four main street businesses either start or change hands, while new owners have taken the reins at the local caravan park.

Kane and Brooke Arnold have left Arnold Family Butchers to launch into a new venture, Godfrey & Bear, in the premises of the former Café 116.

“We opened at the end of March with the aim of giving people a seven-day service and creating a bit of a food hub for the town,” Brooke said.

“We do a cooked breakfast and lunch, with Kane’s hamburger specialty available each day, plus coffee, cakes and slices.

“We try to source supplies that are local and fresh and offer high-quality coffee and service so people keep coming back.”

Donning the striped aprons at the butcher shop are Kane’s brother, Jye, and wife Kristy.

As well as a wide range of meats, the business has a busy line in smallgoods made on the premises.

Jye and Kristy won first prize in early May in a regional competition sponsored by the Australian Meat Industry Council for their hams and two kinds of sausages.

“Jye’s been a butcher for 17 years, so it seemed like a good opportunity to continue the family business,” Kristy said.

Renu Pattison opened Café Renu in early May, opening six days for lunches and take-away food.

Originally from Thailand, Renu worked there as a private nurse until injuries sustained by her husband, Graham, in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 prompted a move to Australia.

After a period of recuperation, the couple returned to farming at Mysia and moved to Boort in 2011.

“I really like what I’m doing,” Renu said. “We now have people coming into the café who say they never thought they’d be able to find Thai food in Boort.”

Further up the street, Michele Ashton has opened the Oasis Gallery in conjunction with Carol Smith, who heads up the Boort Book Exchange now housed in the gallery.

Michele, after implementing the now-annual Boort Easter Arts and Crafts Show, is planning more events at “pop-up” galleries in the region.

“I’ve always enjoyed art and fashion and worked in both arenas, travelling extensively here and abroad, but I feel I have found the heart of Australia in Boort,” she said.
 
“My husband, Rob, has worked as a graphic artist in New York and London, but we feel we have found our niche here.”

Wendy and Tim James formally took over at the Boort Lakes Caravan Park in March, after a move from Bendigo.

Wendy has a background in high-profile sports and shopping centre management, while Tim is a qualified butcher and business coach.

“We’ve been coming to Boort for holidays for 18 years and always loved the caravan park and the town,” Wendy said.

“We were flat out until after Easter, but we have big plans for making the park more enjoyable and presentable through a range of marketing and promotional tools.”

Further south, at Inglewood, Steaven Weavell is the new publican at the Empire State Hotel, the town’s second-oldest pub.

“I bought in after a chance conversation with the previous owner, Enzo, revealed he was thinking of selling,” Steaven said.

“I’m prepared to try different things to improve the place. We’ll upgrade our services in bar and kitchen and look at some longer-term ideas down the track.”

Cornishman Gary Arnall opened his new store in Brooke St, Cousin Jack’s Bakehouse, in March, after living in Maiden Gully for 13 years and making a dollar restoring motorcycles.

“I have a bit of a love for Inglewood,” he said. “I like the community spirit here – it reminds me of my village life in Cornwall.

“I did a bit of baking back in the UK, making pasties, pies and sausage rolls, and just felt I’d like to do it again.

“The business name is my own creation, harking back to gold rush days when the Cornish miners were known as ‘Cousin Jacks’.