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The tiny township of Trentham is a rising starlet on the horizon. Certainly one to be watched as she rises alongside her bakery's sour dough bread.
For the town's regeneration started with Red Beard Historic Bakery which opened in 2005. It seems to be doing what the Beechworth Bakery did for Beechworth, that is putting a tiny township on the tourist map.
The bakery is the creation of two brothers, John and Alan Reid who decided on the name Red Beard as their surname comes from a Scottish clan known for their flaming red hair and beards. Fittingly the bakery also uses a 140 year old wood-fired Scotch oven, and beard is an anagram for the word bread.
They serve beyond excellent coffee and the sour dough currant buns are memorable with their tiny crust of crystallised sugar on top. Here you can order all kinds of goodies made from local, seasonal, organic ingredients.There are loads of fresh baked artisan sourdough breads with names such as Blonde, Brunette and Stubble. Something about going home with a blonde or brunette, not sure what going home with the stubble means. Or you can sit in the licensed cafe and eat organic beef pies or fetta and olive quiche,cakes, biscuits, pastries, soups, focaccias and regional tasting plates.They also do fantastic cooked breakfasts with free range eggs, Istra bacon, Tuki chipolatas, seasonal vegetables and their famous Scotch oven baked beans.
The brothers are rightly proud of their magnificent Scotch oven and offer free bakery tours to café customers but you do need to book these at least 7 days in advance.
They also run bread making workshops. These include making your own sourdough starter culture (leaven), milling your own flour, mixing doughs, adding grains and fruits and shaping and proving loaves in tins. These activities are followed by lunch, including bottomless cups of that excellent coffee, snacks from RedBeard café, plus you take home the loaves you baked, a bag of organic flour, and your new leaven to get you started with your own home baking.
Learning to make sourdough bread
A group class on breadmaking
Bookings for these foodie classes are taken through the Trentham Neighbourhood Centre:T. 03 5424 1354E. email@example.com
Red Beard's cafe takes bookings on weekdays but not weekends. Telephone 03 5424 1002.
Taking home the goods after the breadmaking class.
It can be easy to miss Red Beard as it is down the laneway opposite Trentham's town square (off High St, Trentham) -so look for the Redbeard 'Bakery signs near a laneway off the main drag.
Another iconic tourist venture is The Cosmpolitan Hotel. Although initially it doesn't look much because the old hotel is all boarded up after fire gutted it in 2005. But step around to the side gate where you will find an entry to the newly renovated stables with their shiny black slate floors and original wood panelling.
On a cold day you can stay inside by the log fire or in summer sit out under the century old elms in the impressive heritage gardens. Again local seasonal produce is used in such dishes as lemon and rosemary lamb ribs with salad, Istra pork sausages with roasted pear, rocket and mash and shiraz-braised beef cheek over truffled mash.The beer is brewed in nearby Woodend, and house wine comes from Hanging Rock Winery. They also have live Music on Sunday afternoons. Renovations are planned for the derelict old hotel, but it is in some ways fun just the way it is. And certainly the gorgeous garden setting is one I would like to add to my list of secret gardens.
Corner High Street and Cosmo Road, Trentham (03) 5424 1516 thecosmopolitanhotel.com.au
As these local businesses show this is a town that builds on what it has . It doesn't try to be flash and new. The Cosmopolitan soldiers on, despite a fire. Red Beard relishes its 140 year old wood fired oven and has created the most wonderful curved fence surrounding its grounds which appear to be made from rubble.
The township also has a myriad of eclectic little vintage shops all in dinky little weatherboard buildings. The Wooden Duck sells old industrial bits and pieces and farm house furniture. Mrs Marples Tearooms sits in an historic 1873 National Australian Bank and there are several other vintage and antique shops in town. But probably the most fun shop is Two Fat Wombats. Owned by a married couple, Roband Julia Curtin this large shop with two distinct areas - his and hers - is like two sides of the marital bed. Her side is demure, feminine and pretty with trinkets and dainty clothes and accessories.
His side is jokey and blokey. For example, he has a turbaned figure holding a bed pan (taken from a leper colony) with free jelly beans inside. The figure has two green jelly beans dripping from his nostrils and a sign saying "snot flavoured lollies." In the tray of jelly beans is a plastic dog turd and lots of plastic creepy crawly insects. It is the only time I have not been tempted by a black jelly bean.
Rob is an artist who builds all kinds of figures out of fibreglass so his shop is populated by all sorts of strange figures from Dr Who ring ins to Hollywood creatures. If you walk around the laneway at the back he even has his own menageries including monkeys, tigers and an elephant sticking out its trunk. His business UraCast, has become a million-dollar success but his products are pure fun.
Although the fun in Trentham doesn't stop here. You could visit the Trentham Falls as these won't let you down. They are Victoria's longest falls cascading 32 metres into the Colliban River. There is a Farmers Market every third Saturday of the month in the town square where you will find local honey, homemade preserves, craft items and even live poultry. Even the new housing estate here is quirky. It looks like a fairy tale village and a few of Rob Curtins animals planted in front yards add to the fairytale scene. Trenthham is also only a short drive from Woodend where there is also a lot to eat and do. For what to do in Woodend click here.