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12 SmartFarmer •
Robe's warm welcoming
obe is a thriving community
and its ocean views, fishing
fleets, historic buildings, win-
ing and dining facilities, and lake
and bush scenery attracts a stream of
tourists. Its population of about
1500 in the winter months grows to
about 15,000 in summer.
The most popular activity for
tourists, apart from relaxing and
soaking in Robe's gentle and inter-
esting atmosphere, is fishing, with
the district offering many easily-
accessed and prized fishing spots.
Fishing from the rocks of Guichen
Bay is valued for catches of salmon
and snapper, but can be extremely
hazardous with large waves often
sweeping over the rocks. Beach fish-
ing is far safer, and can return
salmon, mulloway, flathead, snapper
and King George whiting. Boat fish-
ing is popular during the summer
months, up to about one kilometre
offshore for small boats, and for
those who prefer it, there is excellent
fishing for bream in Lakes Battye
and Nunan, or in Pub Lake.
There are some excellent surfing
and kite surf venues along the coast-
line, and sailing, canoeing and
kayaking enthusiasts are also well
catered for. Robe also offers several
superb walking trails with views
along its rugged cliffs, or just an on-
foot expedition of the township to
view the historic buildings, learn
more about local history and enjoy
the cafe and restaurant scene.
Sites of interest in the district and
its surrounds include the famous
Robe lighthouse. The seas are
treacherous on occasions and there
have been many shipwrecks along
this particular stretch of coastline.
An obelisk was built on Cape
Dombey in 1852 to assist ships to
navigate safely into the harbour, but
the current lighthouse was estab-
lished in 1973. The old obelisk still
exists and is a prime tourist attrac-
tion, although it is now falling into
The old jail, constructed in 1860
but closed since 1881, is also of his-
toric interest, with its stone walls
reinforced with steel boiler plates
from the wreck of the SS Admella. It
was restored in 1995.
A flourishing wine industry in the
region also attracts a large number of
Travelling further afield from
Robe, visitors may go to Port
MacDonnell and the cottage
'Dingley Dell', former home of one
of the region's most renowned resi-
dents, the poet, horseman and par-
liamentarian Adam Lindsay Gordon.
The arts and cultural events play a
large part in Robe's lifestyle. The
South Australian Living Artists
Festival is represented here, as is the
Southern Ocean Art Prize, and cre-
ative workshops are often held by
premier artist JoJo Spook. The town
is home to several galleries.
Other events in the region include
a farmers market, the next sched-
uled for October 3, the Coonawarra
Cabernet Celebrations, this year on
October 15-17, the Robe Village fair,
November 26, and the annual
Blessing of the Fleet, which takes
place the week before the official
opening of the crayfish season. The
blessing includes a service to com-
memorate those lost at sea, blessing
of the boats and fishermen, and 'div-
ing for the cross', followed by boat
rides around the harbour.
Service with passion, style
A PASSION for excellence is the moti-
vation behind the success of Robe's
Wild Mulberry Cafe.
"It's essential to have a passion for
what you do and to give it every-
thing," said Paul Birchall who, with
his wife Kiri, has run the cafe for two
With his background which
includes being second chef at the
Entertainment Centre and stints at
Chloe's and Jolley's Boathouse, Paul
knows what his customers want.
"It's all about service and food,"
They have an increasing clientele,
particularly among the local inhabi-
tants. "They are our bread and but-
ter," Paul said. "If you look after the
locals, they'll look after you."
And they do. Locals now regularly
recommend the cafe to tourists, and
the business continues to flourish.
Winter days can be relatively quiet,
but the summer will often bring up to
300 customers a day.
Paul and Kiri like to use local pro-
duce whenever possible, but as so
much of it is marketed elsewhere
they sometimes have
to bring in products
from other areas,
such as their
unsurpassed coffee, which is specially
delivered from Melbourne.
One of their specialties is the
gourmet breakfast -- eggs however
the customer would like them, local
bacon and sausage, Boston baked
beans and mushrooms. Another 'sig-
nature dish' is pancakes -- three
crepes served with mixed berries,
mulberries and strawberries when in
season, often picked by local children
to earn a bit of extra pocket money,
and because they enjoy their first
involvement in the business world.
The cafe is licenced, with a good
range of local wines, plus a wide
selection from other regions, and it
also displays a range of artworks,
particularly the paintings and lime-
stone sculptures of well-known local
artist JoJo Spook.
The Wild Mulberry cafe is open for
breakfast and lunch every day from
8am until the customers leave, usual-
ly at about 3pm, although Paul is
considering opening from 6am to
6pm in the summer months.
"It depends on what the customers
want," Paul said. "The customer is
"We don't mind the extra hours --
what you put into life, you'll get out
Paul and Kiri Birchall at the Wild Mulberry Cafe - dedicated to service.
The attractive coastal setting and excellent fishing creates an increasingly popular tourist venue.
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