HILLENDIA - Pop Up Cafe In Hill End

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I designed and managed a pop-up cafe in one of the historic buildings in Hill End. By turns a former billiards hall, girls boarding school, boxing ring, a museum – this grand old dame of a building was in the midst being renovated by National Parks and Wildlife . Over the holiday break it became Hillendia...

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During the Gold Rush Hill End had a population of around 8000, now it’s under 200. But at Easter the crowds come, the campsites fill up and the numbers swell again into the thousands - the pop-up would cater for them. 

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Starting to work on the project I realised the only way it could happen was to keep things local. The coffee ended up coming from Bathurst – Fish River Roasters, the toasted sandwiches from the Hill End General Store, and the pies and delicious sweet treats from the wonderful Hill End Estate.

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There was an ease to this and a feeling of community spirit.  Luke Sciberras loaned a painting, Bill Moseley from the Hill End Press a tin type photograph, while his wife Genevieve helped me behind the counter.  La Paloma pottery provided plates for the cakes. The furniture came mostly from the National Parks and Wildlife archive shed- collected from the old businesses and homes of gold miners. This was a space grown out of a love of Hill End, its art and its history.

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I liked the experience of working in the country. More face to face conversations, less emails pinging around in an uncertain cyber space. Things got done quicker. Everyone seemed to have a dog.

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The actual running of the cafe was like diving into the deep end of the pool – it was hard to estimate the rhythms and flow of the business. The old saying of never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes came to mind. After running Hillendia I have been much more patient and understanding in cafes. It’s a tough game.

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Hillendia was there, for a brief moment, and now it’s gone. And there was something beautiful about it.

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Ingrid Weir