Gardener's Lodge Cafe Opening

(11am, Saturday 1 December 2012, Victoria Park)

Thank you, Stephen [Gilby, MC]. Hello, everyone, welcome to this beautiful place. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our city.

It's wonderful to be re-opening this lovely old building as a stylish new café - one that will be serving food with bush flavours, and enable the talents of young Koori people to develop.

The building was one of two lodges built in 1885 by the great Colonial Architect of NSW, James Barnet. They were to flank the grand main entrance to the University of Sydney.

This one became home to the university's grounds-keeper, who looked after the lawns and gardens around the campus.

In 1911, ownership passed to the City of Sydney and sometime later, the building was converted to public toilets - or "public conveniences", as they used to be called - which it remained until it was closed in the mid-1980s.

We began our $1.2 million restoration in January this year, and it's been a comprehensive refurbishment for this important heritage building.

Work involved restoration of the exterior façade; restoration of the roof features; replacement of the roof beams, the windows and doors, and the installation of a new, state-of-the-art kitchen.

And we've also made the historic lodge sustainable, with LED lighting, solar hot water, a rainwater tank and a recycling system for grey water.

The old gardener would be astonished!

His old house will now become a café, run by Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, from the Gamillaroi people of north-west NSW, and another two hospitality teachers.

Aunty Beryl runs Yamma Dhiyann, a hospitality training college in Darlington, teaching students - mostly young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, how to prepare food using bush flavours.

The college has an impressive 70 per cent success rate, with most students gaining work. This café will be another outlet for their skills and creativity, and I look forward to visiting it often. I'm sure we all will.

The work, as I said, has been extensive, and we're proud that it recently won the Heritage Award from the Australian Property Institute of NSW.

So congratulations and very big thanks to everyone involved in the project:

  • Andrew Simpson, of SDA Structures, our structural engineers
  • Steven Yip, Mark Agius and Brett Ryan of Intelle, our electrical and hydraulic engineers
  • Huge Wilson and Afroz Awan from GHD, our mechanical engineers
  • Christian Williams of TZG, for the signage design
  • Jeff Bennett, of Bennett Design Group for the kitchen design
  • Ingrid Baldwin and David Becker of PointofView for the lighting design
  • Dean Goldsmith and David Martin of BM+G, our private certifier
  • Phil McColl and Kelvin Perrie of Slattery, our quantity surveyor
  • Marcus Bristow and Kevin Iredale from A.J. Bristow & Sons, our builders.

And from the City of Sydney, our staff:

  • Annelise Beljaars, who was project manager
  • Tracey Hargans, relationship manager for corporate public domain and
  • Samantha Urquhart, our property officer.

To all of you, a very big thank you. It's a fantastic effort, and a fantastic result. I hope you'll all stay and enjoy the rest of the morning.