Wilcannia Café serves up community spirit

A new café in Wilcannia has just looked after many hundreds of tourists passing through for the third Mundi Mundi Bash Festival.

Café owner Conrad Brown, and wife Shona Cook, opened three months ago at 54 Reid St in a building dating from late 1800s which was previously home to the old Cooee for Coffee café before it closed earlier this year.

It’s certainly a place steeped in history. Conrad told us he found a newspaper dating back to 1900 under the floor in the building while the couple were renovating ahead of their grand opening.

Conrad, originally from Melbourne, and Shona from the Gold Coast have plenty of experience with owning and managing businesses.

“We had been running a caravan park in the Gulf of Carpentaria for a year,” said Conrad, and because they are both chefs by trade, they’d decided to introduce food to the caravan park, “because it was a small area with no real options for meals,” he says.

From Queensland, the couple were offered a role managing Wilcannia’s Warrawong Caravan Park, and Conrad said due to the limited food options in Wilcannia, he introduced food options at Warrawong.

He was surprised by the sheer number of tourists and locals who travelled out to the caravan park just for food, and so Conrad and Shona decided to open a café in the heart of town. It’s been a good move for the couple and also for locals and visitors.

Across from the main park and overlooking the Darling River, Conrad and Shona have established a true community café.

“We only employ local girls and blokes, as we want them to have something behind them when they are trained up.”

“Many of the local groups, such as the Tourism Association and the Women’s Club, are using our rooms for meetings, because we have private areas that we can close up for them,” Conrad says.

“We rely 100% on the locals,” he says. “We only employ local girls and blokes, as we want them to have something behind them when they are trained up.”

He says by employing locals he believe they take pride in the business and points out, “we’re here to help the town, not to take money out of the place”.

Since opening, Conrad has struck up a deal with a trawler owner in Adelaide to provide the café with fresh prawns and seafood, including oysters, snapper, and barramundi. “We wanted to bring a bit of the Gold Coast to Wilcannia,” he says.

The Wilcannia Café is open from Tuesday to Friday 8.30am-2.30pm, and 5pm-8pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2.30pm, and 5.30pm-8pm. To book, call the café on 0409 988 768, or email them at [email protected]

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