Sheriden Rhodes finds galleries, collectables and fine food made with passion in a town shopping strip.
Ameander down Kyneton's main drag at one time didn't offer much enticement to linger. Nice old bluestone buildings, an interesting gold-rush history but, frustratingly, nowhere for a decent feed, a glass of wine or somewhere to mosey for cool country finds.
How times have changed. Today, the delightful strip that is Piper Street is thriving and, dare I say, giving Daylesford a run for its money not just in terms of its much-lauded food operators but in the retail therapy department as well.
A rush of charming, funky and arty new stores and cafes has opened, adding to existing establishments of Annie Smithers' Bistrot and the Royal George Hotel, which together put Kyneton on the map in the first place.
Of course, the potential was always there, given its proximity to Melbourne (just over an hour's drive), its great wineries and gold rush-era architecture.
Shop for interesting homewares, art and locally made fashion before lunching on chef Matthew Fegan's fabulous Middle Eastern fare at Mr Carsisi (see Sunday Lunch).
Here are Kyneton's must-do's.
Six months after Melissa Macfarlane and Frank Moylan sold the Royal George to Neil Henson and Jim Lekakis they opened Kabinett, a cool store with imported and locally sourced vintage homewares and collectables. It stocks whatever is fashionable, vintage or interesting from the entrepreneurial couples' travels to places such as Bulgaria and India, with an emphasis on exotic textiles from Istanbul and Rajasthan.
There are industrial lights, lamps, old suitcases, propaganda art, an eclectic mix of old chairs and stools, vintage maps, globes and French enamelware. The Kabinett Originals - removable wall art that can be custom-made from virtually any image - are fabulous.
Upstairs is Cavaletti Gallery, recently opened by the former front-of-house manager at Annie Smithers, Leanne Coates. The talented seamstress is happily sewing when we drop into the light-filled space with soaring, pressed-metal ceilings. Coates's own screen-printed silks and linen are incorporated into her range, crafted from Japanese and Italian textiles, as well as some Australian organic hemp, linen and yak blend, to produce one-off garments. You'll also find ceramics, photography, jewellery, handmade books, local identity Tonia Todman's vintage obi cushions and indigenous yarn and fibre works.
"After five years at Annie Smithers' Bistrot, I had a confidence in the design and style-driven customers we had met to do something that would otherwise be at home in a Flinders Lane nook," Coates says.
Across the way from Kabinett is Prunella, a new boutique florist and gift store run by clever duo Caris Haughan and Vanessa Partridge, who met when they made the tree change to Kyneton three years ago.
Prunella means both a self-healing herb and an Italian fairytale and seems an appropriate name for this charming shop. Haughan and Partridge love to source things they collect when out and about, such as twigs and even weeds, which they assemble into striking arrangements.
Kabinett open Thursday-Monday 10.30am-4.30pm, 66 Piper Street. Phone 5422 6695, see kabinett.com.au; Prunella open Friday-Monday 10am-4.30pm, 68 Piper Street. Phone 0416 296 433, see prunella.com.au; Cavaletti Gallery open Thursday-Monday 10am-5pm or by appointment, 66F Piper Street (enter via Powlett Street). Phone 0417 506 440.
Lauriston Press provides an opportunity to experience a working artist's studio and buy specialised art supplies and original works on paper by Lauriston artist and store owner Sarah Gabriel and others.
The store is filled with odd sculptures and furniture pieces, fresh native flowers, a working printing press and "Mr Fox" - a taxidermy fox that children apparently adore.
Lauriston Press open Thursday-Monday 10am-5pm, 37b Piper Street. Phone 5422 1710, see lauristonpress.com.au.
This "green boutique" sells eco-friendly, organic and recycled goods but don't think hemp or potato sacks. Melinda Wain grew up in nearby Woodend and built a home on two hectares at Kyneton before opening the store two years ago.
Her philosophy is that being green can also be stylish. The store stocks imported and locally made green fashion, including Three Fish (made in Woodend), Skin & Threads, Etiko, Gypsy 05 and Regeneration. There are also organic cotton cushions, locally made Red Lotus Candles, Murchison & Hume cleaning products, Daylesford-owned skincare range Lily Loves Pearl, "tree-free" notebooks from Rebound Books, organic-cotton babywear from Little Lark and locally produced handbags, clothes and accessories from Lane Palmer Green (daughter of fashion designer Adele Palmer).
N0.2 Sweetheart open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, 37a Piper Street. Phone 0417 862 803, see no2sweetheart.com.au.
Hennie and Fox
This whimsical and colourful new kids' boutique is run by Sarah Rogers, who together with her husband, Steven, owns Little Swallow Cafe a few doors up. The couple, who met as apprentices at Jacques Reymond, have two young children and live in nearby Woodend, where Rogers grew up. The shop stocks Australian and locally made labels, including Owl in the Oak (designed and hand-sewn by a local mum), Snugglebum Pyjamas based in Williamtown, Baobae, Three Little Trees from Queensland, Oishi-M from Jan Juc, as well as kids' shoes and vintage prints.
"Apart from Kyneton being a tourist destination, there's a lot of young families now in the area," Rogers says. "I love bright colours, prints and fabrics: things that you won't see every child on the street wearing."
Hennie and Fox open Thursday-Sunday 10.30am-4.30pm, 66 Piper Street. Phone 5422 6323.
The Stockroom and Wolf at the Door
Magali Gentric and Jason Waterhouse have converted a 150-year-old butter factory into an 870-square-metre arts hub showcasing Australian makers and designers. The multi-level space features quality Australian-made clothing, jewellery, ceramics, homewares, furniture, quirky contemporary art and more across multiple artist studios, a makers' "retail concept space", a giant store and two exhibition spaces.
Also new is Wolf at the Door, formerly of Hepburn Springs, which has come under the Stockroom umbrella to manage the vintage category.
The Stockroom and Wolf at the Door open Wednesday-Friday 10.30am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm, 98 Piper Street. Phone 5422 3215, see stockroomonpiper.com.
The Yard Sale
Upstairs from Little Swallow you'll find cool retro stuff, Danish furniture, sideboards, industrial pieces and clothing. There are quirky '60s canisters and vacuum flasks, old road signs, reworked furniture and more.
The Yard Sale open weekends 10am- 5pm or by appointment, 58 Piper Street. Phone 0421 445 209, see thevintageyardsale.com.au.
Piper St Food Company
Former Pizza Verde chef Damian Sandercock has sold his award-winning Kyneton pizzeria and is now indulging his passion for charcuterie at the Piper St Food Company.
His new purpose-built kitchen produces premium terrines, pates and rilletes based on classic French recipes and are all handmade, preservative-free and use the best of free-range meats and organic herbs from central Victoria.
Sandercock says he likes like to consider it a "picnic shop". Take his advice and buy your supplies for a picnic spread in the Kyneton Botanical Gardens.
Piper St Food Company open Thursday-Saturday 9am-1pm, 89b Piper Street. Phone 5422 3553, see piperstfoodco.com.
Simon Fenwick, a chef who has worked in leading restaurants in London, Europe and Australia, and his wife, Rebecca, have opened Monsieur Pierre - the first of the town's food operators to open off the Piper strip, at 143 Mollison Street.
The couple have transformed an old butcher's shop into a local providore, catering business (they recently did author John Marsden's wedding) and a terrific cafe serving up Kyneton's best coffee through a hole in the wall.
Try Pierre's meatballs, the cherry and coconut slice and take home some of the divine cheeses from Europe.
Also worth a look is Mara Szoke's Inner Biscuit, an organic patisserie and retro cafe that sells Szoke's muesli and biscuits made on the premises (try the lemon butter or the almond rose crunch). See Macedon Ranges Interiors for Libeco linen, interesting perfumes, Legnoart trolleys, kitchenware and more.
If you cross the road, you you may find former Ice House drummer John Lloyd working on his beautiful abstract landscapes at the John Lloyd Gallery
Monsieur Pierre open Monday-Friday 10am-7.30pm and Saturday 9am-1.30pm, 143 Mollison Street. Phone 5422 1136, see whoispierre.com.au; Inner Biscuit open Thursday-Monday 9am-4pm, 34 Piper Street. Phone 5422 1129, see innerbiscuit.com; Macedon Ranges Interiors open Wednesday-Sunday 10.30am-5pm and Monday 10.30am-3.30pm, 61 Piper Street. Phone 5422 1211, see macedonrangesinteriors.com.au; John Lloyd Gallery, 48 Piper Street. Open Thursday-Monday 10am-5pm. Phone 5422 7053, see johnlloydonline.com.
Sheriden Rhodes travelled courtesy of Tourism Victoria.
Kyneton is 85 kilometres from Melbourne on the Tullamarine then Calder freeways.
- Live it up at Apartment 61A, a stylish two-bedroom apartment above an 1870s Piper Street shop. From $180 a night for two, see macedonrangesinteriors.com.au.
- Stay in the chic Mollisons, a restored Bank of New South Wales building, where the smart decor and furniture, in the apartments and boutique rooms, can be bought from the Mollisons homeware and gift store at 116-118 Mollison Street. Rooms cost from $230 a night (weekends). See mollisons.net.au.
- Located above Prunella, Circa 1860 is ideal for two couples with its classic interior, French and Australian antiques and king-size beds. From $300 a night. See circa1860.com.au.
- Enjoy country style at St Agnes Homestead, a luxury B&B near Piper Street, with rooms from $180 a night, see saintagnes.com.au.