Cafe Borellas is named in honour of Albury local, Captain Albert Borella who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918. The place is massive. With a large collection of air conditioned/heated rooms perfect for groups, there are also a couple of outdoors courtyards if you prefer to be out in the elements. The cafe is part of the Peard’s Complex, which includes a plant nursery, a homeware store, and a beauty centre, and makes it too easy to whittle away the day. I’m not one for giving full marks as food is so subjective, and what’s good for one person is not necessarily good for another. However, you can’t do much better than arriving at a cafe when the scones are still cooling on the tray. It’s 9am and heading towards morning teatime, and these babies are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. There’s also a choice of date or plain, but I stick to Jane, preferring to get my sugar hit from the jam rather than the dates. The cream is chilled and double thick, but unfortunately the jam is below average, just a scoop of jellied sweetness. While you are there, spend some time checking out the collection of wartime memorabilia.
Tea: A selection of T2 loose leaf teas served in a standard sized pot.
Overall: A huge semi sophisticated garden centre cafe with a lick of Aussie wartime history.
Location: 117 Borella Rd, East Albury NSW 2640 Ph: 02 6023 7888 peards.com.au
Conveniently situated in downtown Yass, Cafe Dolcetto sits snugly within the rooms of a renovated heritage building, one of many that line the main drag. It’s cosy inside from the Yass Valley chill and is a popular spot even late in the day. The scones are impressive; warm, light and fluffy, with a smidgen of icing sugar sprinkled on top. There’s ample jam and cream, and although the cream is freshly whipped, as opposed to being from a can, it’s quite light.
Tea: A few black and herbal teabag choices served in a good-sized pot.
Overall: A pleasant cafe in downtown Yass with friendly staff.
‘Merino Cafe & Catering Co’
The historical town of Gunning in the heart of sheep country is a quick diversion off the Hume Highway just south of Goulburn. You can’t miss the Merino Cafe with the sheep statues and bright umbrellas out the front. The scones weren’t on the menu, but I’m guessing because it was the weekend they may be baking. I spied the huge tray of scones sitting by the cash register looking very real and terribly inviting but I had to be quick as they were disappearing fast. The big, fluffy scones still warm from the oven arrive at my table in the back outdoor courtyard lightly dusted with icing sugar and are absolutely delectable – exactly how I like them – soft, almost creamy in taste and texture. The Taylors of Harrogate tea is in a high quality silk-like teabag and lovely. The scones were so perfect that even the substandard jam and cream couldn’t spoil it for me. Before you hit the Hume Highway, wander through the cafe and peruse the giftware and the wonderful photography depicting country life covering the walls.
Tea: A variety of ‘Taylors of Harrogate’ teabags served in a small pot.
Overall: Well worth the stop.
Location: 62 Yass St, Gunning NSW 2581 Ph: 02 4845 1250
Reviewed in February, 2012
The Paragon Cafe in Goulburn has been serving Greek dishes and cafe standards since 1940. Can you believe it? The cavernous space is more restaurant than cafe and reminds me of what a dance hall from that era, if you cleared out the furniture, might look like. It’s all hustle and bustle on a mid-week afternoon. It’s so hectic and big; you’d think it was Yum Cha in Sydney’s Chinatown! However, there’s nothing Chinese about the Paragon. It’s all booths and mirrored walls and one helluva long bar down almost one side of the restaurant. The menu is seriously extensive; expect old school dishes, so kale and quinoa devotees should look elsewhere. I am so excited to be here (I love anything with a history and booths), that I am flustered by the chock-a-block menu and can’t locate the Devonshire Tea. It’s certainly there, and the no fuss and efficient service has me tucking into light and fluffy scones in no time. I am disappointed by the sachets of jam – it a tad lazy. At least the super light cream taste’s like it’s from a cream canister as opposed to the sweet and sickly hybrid cream from a can, that’s a plus.
Tea: A basic selection of Twining tea bags served in a small teapot.
Overall: A step back in time with a menu to match.
I swear I’ve never seen the huge billboard on the Hume Highway blurting out that ‘Rollonin Cafe’ is famous for its Devonshire Teas. When did that go up? Was I always asleep when I passed the exit for Bowning? So when I see the sign I do just that, roll-on-in. The tiny village of Bowning has one of the first schools to be established in inland NSW and the antique shop on the opposite side of town has lots of trinkets. The traditional slab hut cafe was built a few years ago and has lots of seating both indoor and outdoor for passing highway trade. The chequered table cloths and staff dressed in maid’s bonnets and aprons gives it an Australiana bush cafe feel. It’s a difficult decision – should I choose the plain, date or pumpkin scones? The pumpkin scones win as I rarely get an opportunity to have them. They are huge so only one is served as part of the Devonshire Tea. The scone has no nasty aftertaste or is too salty and has a lovely texture. My tasting buddy is truly impressed and adds it too his favourites (he’s missed lunch and is hungry). Personally I wouldn’t go that far, but they are good. The jam is nothing extraordinary and the cream is fresh but a bit light. If you’ve got kids, it’s a great stop as there are emus, a Shetland pony, a Clydesdale and probably more animals roaming around in a paddock next to the cafe.
Tea: A good variety of tea bag teas served in a small pot. Be aware that herbal tea orders incur a 50c surcharge.
Overall: A stop off with a touch of Australiana.
Have you ever wondered why a country town far from the ocean ends up with the decommissioned Australian submarine HMAS Otway? Formerly known as Germantown (among other previous names), in 1915 the town finally settled on Holbrook, in honour of Lieutenant N.D. Holbrook of the Royal Navy who was the first submariner to receive the Victoria Cross in World War I. Primarily a service centre for Hume Highway traffic, but since the recent Hume Highway bypass, Holbrook may need to work a little harder at attracting visitors. But everyone travelling the Hume wants to see the inland submarine, right? Well, yes. Many come to the Submarine Precinct to climb over HMAS Otway and to visit the museum, so Holbrook may be preserved yet, just like many of its lovely historic buildings. The aptly named Submarine Cafe looks over HMAS Otway and is the ideal spot to take in the grandeur of the vessel without actually climbing over it. It’s late in the day when I arrive and all the scones are wrapped up for the night in Cling Wrap. Warning bells go off in my head, but I’ve made the diversion, so scones from Cling Wrap it is. The order comes with two scones. They are slightly sweet, and with a bit of primping come up okay. The two sachets of jam are a let down – seriously, it’s not a breakfast buffet! The light but fresh cream is probably the best aspect of this spread, along with the fresh strawberries as garnish.
Tea: A basic selection of tea bags served in a cup, mug or teapot.
Overall: Smashing view of the HMAS Otway submarine.
‘The Magistrate’s Tea Room’
‘Where the hell is Boorowa?’ I hear you ask. Lying somewhere between Yass and Cowra, the tiny country town has a plethora of antique shops and visitors to fill them. We caught the farmers market just before the rain set in and stocked up on vegetables then stumbled into the old courthouse, bypassing the knitted tea cosies to find the Magistrate’s Tea Room. Exactly like Nanna’s kitchen, the older ladies who served us also sold the tea cosies and jams next door as well as acted as an informal visitors centre. The scones are homemade and tasty, served with an ample amount of jam and cream. The superb homemade jam and freshly whipped cream top off the Devonshire Tea wonderfully. Truly well worth the diversion!
Tea: As the lady said, there’s ‘a range of fancy teas’ with loose-leaf for standard black tea and teabags for the fancy stuff.
Overall: Country Women’s Association (CWA) style at it’s best!
Location: Old Court House Building, Marsden St, Boorowa NSW 2586 Ph: 02 6385 3885
Reviewed in August, 2011
‘Steam Mills Restaurant’
The old Goulburn Brewery is quite a find. Although in need of some TLC, a good feather duster also wouldn’t go astray, and an injection of capital, the historic building is another wonderful example of Francis Greenway’s work. Completed sometime after 1836, the Brewery became another feather in Greenway’s cap, adding to his more known works such as the Macquarie Lighthouse, Hyde Park Barracks and Government House. Formerly known as Bradley Grange, the integrated set of buildings housing the various activities associated with brewing, malting, milling, coopering, smithing and stabling remain intact, and with an overhaul could become an unmissable place to visit in Goulburn. The day we visit it’s nearing 40 degrees, so we settle into the coolness of the Steam Mills Restaurant, rather than outside in the cobbled courtyard. When my Devonshire Tea arrives, I get a whiff of a strange smell but think it’s my partners ploughman’s lunch. To my horror I realise the lightly whipped cream is slightly off and send it back. With not much of an apology, I’m later brought a scoop of vanilla ice-cream as a replacement as there is no cream in the house. A shame, as it’s an integral part of a Devonshire tea. I press on minus the cream with the average strawberry jam spread over the bread like scones that have the texture of breadrolls rather than scones. If you need to see more than just the restaurant and outside grounds, do a self-guided tour ($7.50) through some of the rooms, and read up on the man himself, Francis Greenway.
Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas is served in a good-sized pot.
Overall: Impressive historic property that could be brilliant with some TLC.
‘The Rose Cafe’
I’m on my way to Wakefield Parkway in a bright red Mini Cooper. We’re about to test our skills behind the wheel of a V8 supercar so we stop in to The Rose’s Cafe for some sustenance. The cafe is situated in an old renovated church across from Goulburn’s lovely park in the town centre. According to the date on the outside of the building, it also had a life as a Technical College. Not particularly cosy and with bad acoustics (so sit outside if it’s warm) a different interior design may have created a nicer vibe. After placing the order and paying at the counter, the Devonshire Tea turned up looking as though it was on the wrong plate, served with an unusual garnish of grated carrot topped with a strawberry. This obscure presentation doesn’t make it taste better as the scones were too sweet and the can-whipped cream too light.
Tea: Good sized pots with a selection of teabags.
Overall: A nice location for a stop in Goulburn.
Location: 10 Montague St, Goulburn NSW 2580 Ph: 02 4822 2248
Reviewed in March, 2012
‘The Tangled Vine Cafe’
Apart from the pub, there aren’t a lot of choices in Taralga when it comes to curbing hunger pains. Thirty minutes north of Goulburn, the Taralga Hotel attracts day-trippers, motorbike riders, and those passing through to other destinations. Towards the northern part of town, The Tangled Vine Cafe sits alongside a couple of other businesses and is one of the few eating options in town. If there is no one seated in the sunny area out the front of the cafe, it can look closed – I made that mistake a couple of times, so make sure to try the door. Once inside browse the old wares for sale, or snuggle up by the fire if it’s that sort of weather. The bite-size scones are perfect if you’ve had a big lunch or if dinner is not far off. The presentation is pretty with fresh strawberries, although the jam is average and the cream is light and tastes synthetic like it’s out of a can. A high-five for the bone china tea cup and saucer, it’s always a pleasure drinking out of a proper cup – shame about the ALDI Diplomat teabag though.
Tea: The standard tea variety. A Diplomat tea bag served in a small pot.
Overall: A sweet cafe in a chilled village.
‘Train Stop Cafe’
Adjacent to where the Dog on the Tuckerbox statue sits on the outskirts of Gundagai, is an old red rattler train carriage that has been turned in to an antique shop. It’s good for a browse, as there are some interesting items, and if you’re a train freak like my partner there’s some railroadiana for sale. The small cafe in the carriage does a Devonshire Tea, but I can’t say that it was enjoyable. It was served as in the picture above so we didn’t have the pleasure of ripping apart the scone and lashing on the jam and cream ourselves, which, is part of the process. Actually there was nothing redeemable about it, dry scones, cheap jam and sweet can whipped cream, and a cup of tea with a teabag. Make the effort for the train but not the Devonshire Tea.
Tea: Only black tea served in a cup.
Location: 50 Annie Pyers Drv, Gundagai NSW 2722 Ph: 02 6944 237 trainstop.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2011
‘Whichcraft and Coffee Cottage’
Murumburrah and Harden are like Albury and Wodonga, and Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. The differences are, they are in the same state and are only separated by a bridge. The dual township is buried in the southern extremes of the Southern Highlands where farming land was made famous by the quality Merino wool it produced. I enter through the Murumburrah side and run straight into the Whichcraft and Coffee Cottage that has a huge sign out front beckoning passers-by to come in for a Devonshire Tea. Opened in 1971 and acting as a cafe, craft store and Tourist Information centre, Whichcraft and Coffee Cottage offers the traveller more than just local information and woollen beanies. The cafe is old school, offering simple home cooked fare from decades past. The Devonshire Tea comes with two scones and a choice of apricot or strawberry jam. The scones are bite size; so don’t be shy in ordering the DT if you are hungry, but scones can be ordered singularly as well. The jam is better than the regular store-bought, but I’m not sure whether my apricot jam is homemade, even though jam is sold on the premises. There’s plenty of fresh and thickly whipped chilled cream, which tops off my scone nicely. Stock up on craft items such as tea cosies, beanies, baby’s booties and crocheted blankets.
Tea: A few varieties of Twining tea bags
Overall: Just like Nanna’s kitchen.
Young is the sort of place you pass through, maybe stopping for a pit stop at a bakery en route to elsewhere. Bigger than Ben Hur, bakery fans will love Wilders Bakery. The business has been baking since the 1950s and over the years has expanded to the vast cafe it is today. From the outside it reminds me of a modernised wild west pub with the second story verandah, but clearly it’s just my imagination as it’s definitely 2016 all the way through from the furnishings to the colour of the decor. Seating moves between cosy corners dotted with armchairs to outdoor seating on the verandah or by the entrance on the footpath. The building is cavernous and it feels as though the bakery counter and clusters of seating rattles around in the place. Orders are taken at the bakery counter and when they eventually find you (it’s a big place), are delivered to your table. Plain and date scones are available, and I stick with the traditional, which is better than average when it comes to bakery scones. The chilled whipped cream is slightly sweet and saves this DT, why spoil it with sachet jam? If you are a bakery person then Wilders Bakery is a must. The upstairs light shades are made from old flourmill sacks and are impressive.
Tea: The usual variety of Lipton tea bags served in a small pot.
Overall: A mother of a bakery that has been serving Young for generations.
‘Woolpak Inn Museum’
The Woolpack Inn Museum, a two story heritage listed historic building located in the main street of Holbrook, has a very friendly and uncharacteristically modern cafe attached. The original Inn was opened in 1839, destroyed in a fire in 1895, but a rebuild had it trading until 1965. It was revived by volunteers and opened as a museum in 1971, but there’s still no excuse to the mismatch of the modern cafe. We’re allowed to sit outside amongst the outdoor museum as long as we don’t wander off as we haven’t bought an admission ticket. I don’t want to upset the friendly local ladies, so I stay put. The scones are magnificent, fresh out of granny’s oven – fluffy and slightly crispy on the outside. The jam is your standard supermarket strawberry jam and the cream is thick and freshly whipped. A gem of a place and I feel sorry for the locals when the highway bypass is complete. I wonder how many people will stop to see the real submarine?
Tea: Only black tea served in a huge pot.
Overall: Homemade country fare.
Location: 83 Albury St Holbrook NSW 2644 Ph: 02 6036 2131 woolpackinn.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2011
Just outside Cooma on the Jindabyne side, Miss Heidi’s Austrian Log Cabin Tea House is at the end of a windy road with a stunning outlook over Cooma. The Austrian style ski chalet is tre kitsch but very cosy, and no doubt in winter would be toasty warm. I visit in summer so I sit at one of the many tables in the garden under a big umbrella. The crispy scones are fresh although I’m not too keen on the icing sugar sprinkled on top. The jam is okay but there needs to be more of it and the cream is light and airy. It’s a quirky restaurant and a great stop on the way to or from the Snowy Mountains.
Tea: Teabags with a variety of herbal teas, but not good quality.
Overall: Makes you want to eat gingerbread and start yodeling.