Australian Coast and Country magazine

WHEN life becomes hectic and tasks seem a little daunting, consider leaving them for a while and head off along the Princes Highway to relax, become inspired and rejuvenate at Yarragon Village.

Yarragon sits snugly at the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges amongst Gippsland’s rich green dairy farms. It is the home of creativity where visitors find the interesting, the unusual and the delicious in a country atmosphere filled with colour and wonderful aromas. There are specialty shops, cafes, restaurants, antiques, galleries and various styles of accommodation.

East of the village is Leisure Pools where blue is many colours in a varying display of swimming pools. Craig Mitchell, who works on weekends for Gary and Naomi Reynolds, is a semi-retired engineer who lives with his wife on a few acres just out of town. He says the part-time work keeps him in touch with interesting people so he doesn’t spend all his time talking to sheep. Visitors to the pool display are Kyle, Melinda and their children from Traralgon who say they love coming to the village just to browse through the shops. “It’s a lovely place to visit,” Melinda says. “The kids love the lolly shop, I like the interior shops and I think Kyle likes the ice-cream shop and the beer.”

The beer Kyle likes comes from Yarragon Ale House built two years ago and operated by John Greenwood who was once a consultant brewer for various Australian and overseas breweries. He now stocks more than 250 different beers and ales from around the world including Chimay Ale from Belgium, which he says is brewed by Trappist monks under a vow of silence.

Many visitors drop into the Yarragon Milk Bar known as ‘the blue shop up the top’ for their famous ‘house brick burger’. One is Neil from Melbourne who says he comes to the village often. “We have family who live at Lakes Entrance and we come to Yarragon to meet them halfway and have lunch, or we stop here on the way through. My wife likes the antique shops and I like the old laminex tables in Bob’s Shed. Bob’s Shed is owned and operated by Di and Bob Jones and is a treasure trove of collectables and older style retro and modern furniture.

Further along the street, is Peter Lendon’s, Yarragon Book Shop stocked with an interesting and extensive range of second-hand and antiquarian books from paperbacks to beautifully bound volumes. Peter also offers a book binding service and says most of his work is old cookery books, bibles and family journals. “I love books,” he says. “They’re incredible, just the shape of a book is tactile and sensuous and the written word is what our society is based on.”

Ross McDermott who is a new trader in the Village has dropped in to say hello to Peter and brought him a coffee. Ross runs The Yarragon Cafe, which he says is between the lolly shop and the pub. His partner Margaret has Pink Fly, the shop next to his that offers a soul enriching experience for women, which includes locally produced wearable textile art.

Lorraine’s Antiques is a shop filled with fine furniture from around the world where visitors will find the owner, Lorraine Crick amongst ruby glass, fine china, art and silverware with her dog Frederick who is a standard schnauzer. Lorraine purchased her first antique 49 years ago and says it has taken her years of study to know what to buy but it’s been fun.

Pennyworth O’ Lollies is a shop bursting with colour, sweet smells and sweet memories. Visitors can reminisce with White Knights, liquorice-blocks, Chew-Chew Bars, lollypops, rock, boiled sweets and barley sugar. Owners Helen and Gavin Cochrane say their most popular sweets are old-fashioned humbugs but they also stock new lollies, American candy and exotic chocolates and sweets from England, Belgium and Germany.

Tritec Art And Craft, owned by Joan and Lyal Bognuda is an artist’s Mecca. Lyal says they keep their supplies constantly upgraded for local artists because creativity just runs rampant in Gippsland. Joan is a painter who teaches art and runs art therapy workshops for the aged.

Paul and Therese, who are visitors to the village from Narre Warren, are sitting in the sunshine enjoying ice creams that they have purchased from Gippsland Food and Wine. Paul has boysenberry and old English toffee flavours and Therese has macadamia nut. Gippsland Food and Wine is a gourmet delicatessen offering many fine local products. It also incorporates takeaway foods cooked on the premises, their gourmet ice-cream parlour and a tearoom serving Devonshire tea and light meals.

Inside Yarragon Country Style Bakery, local students Gabrielle, Jessika and Maryse, who say they love working in the village, help their employer Vicki Brady serve her patrons freshly baked specialty breads and many other delicious delights.

Town and Country Gallery, SJK Western Wear, Tusk Design and All Creatures Great And Small Gifts are just a few of the many more wonderful places to visit at Yarragon. When all their doors are open, the village is alive and then in the evening when they close, Yarragon is just a small quiet country town.

By Wendy Morriss (formerly Thompson)

Copyright © 2012 Wendy Morriss: Freelance Journalist. All Rights Reserved.