Septembre Vintage pumping new life into Eddington

Published on 24 March 2016

A disused petrol station at Eddington, at the foot of the Laanecoorie Reservoir, has pumped new life into the small rural township.

The 1960s-style building is now the home of antiques and collectables store and café Septembre Vintage, the brainchild of owners Dominic and Virginie Callea.

Opened just 18 months ago, Septembre Vintage has quickly evolved into a popular travellers’ stop and busy community hub.

The business marks the latest chapter in its owners’ colourful lives.

Born in Gippsland, Dominic moved between Melbourne and several country towns with his Italian family during his younger days.

A 12-year sojourn in Europe followed as he worked in the motor industry as a clay modeller with such iconic names as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen and Citroen.

It was during a period living in France that he met his future wife, Virginie, then an administrator at a soccer stadium.

In time, the couple decided to try living in Melbourne, but returned to Europe for several more years before finally opting to stay in Victoria.

Virginie operated antiques businesses at Tyabb and Glen Waverley, while Dominic continued with his career in the car industry.

“From there, we decided to run our own business, rather than being a stallholder, but wanted something a bit different from a normal shopfront,” Dominic said.

“We looked at petrol stations when we heard that about 100 such places were closing down in Victoria each year.

“Virginie found the Eddington site, but it was a private residence and no longer a commercial property.

“We came up for a look and virtually bought it that same day.

“It ticked all the boxes – the 1960s style of the building, the surrounding landscape and the fact that it was the only petrol station between Bendigo and Maryborough on that main road.

“The clean-up and renovations took us 12 months, then, in September 2014, we started driving up from Melbourne and opening every second weekend.

“We’re now full-time from Thursday to Sunday every week, from either 9am or ten through to 5pm.

“Our café is up and running, selling Bendigo’s Brewhouse coffee, sandwiches, cakes, pies and drinks.

“We sell industrial-style antiques, focused on wood and leather, auto memorabilia, lanterns, cameras, books and advertising signs, and support about 10 local artists on consignment.

“Those pieces include metalwork, historic clocks, harmonicas, old car lights and bric-a-brac.

“Virginie has a few French pieces she’s collected as well which often interest people.

“We’re finding quite a few community groups like to use the café as a meeting place – we cater for groups of up to 15 people.”

The couple are relishing country life with their two children, aged 14 and 11 years.

“We’re really enjoying the scenery, the sunsets and the sky,” Dominic said.