Lifestyle

Treat for food and wine lovers in Euroa

By Tara Whitsed

If the walls of Euroa’s flour mill could talk, there would be many tales to tell.


From its early days operating as a flour mill in the late 1800s to many years spent housing tyres as a mechanic’s business, the grand old building in Kirkland Ave has overlooked the township since 1873.
Operating as venue space for hundreds of local weddings and celebrations during the past two decades, the flour mill can now add wine and spuntini bar to the list of businesses that have existed within its walls.
Northern Republic opened to the public on New Year’s Day with the former owners of Bank Street Pizza in Avenel — Callum Kaka and Janelle Toomey — joining forces with good friends Danielle Edwards and Adam Palmer to create the unique dining experience.
‘‘We’re a wine and spuntini bar,’’ Ms Toomey said.
‘‘Sputini is snack-style food — it’s very Italian,’’ Mr Kaka added.
‘‘It’s easy to prepare and send out but it’s delicious - we’ve got some seafood, cheeses, and meats. I think it’s a well-balanced menu.’’
Famed for the delicious woodfired pizza served up at Bank Street Pizza, Mr Kaka has also installed a woodfired oven which offers up much more than just pizza.
‘‘We’ve got a woodfired oven because that’s one of the staple things Callum likes to cook with, but the types of food that are coming out aren’t just pizza — we’ve got bruschettas and rotolinos and a really wide variety of wood-fired foods,’’ Ms Toomey said.
It was during their very first weekend operating their former business in Avenel about seven years ago that Mr Kaka and Ms Toomey had a chance meeting with Ms Edwards and Mr Palmer.
‘‘We came to Avenel to open Bank Street and that’s where we met Danielle and Adam — they had moved to Nagambie probably within the same week we opened the restaurant and we met that weekend,’’ Ms Toomey said.
‘‘Danielle and Adam were regular guests of Bank Street and we’ve all become really great friends through that.
‘‘We sort of all fell in love with each other over our love of food and wine.’’
All sharing an array of suitable skills, the four owners began discussing a joint business venture about 18 months ago, but the location of Euroa had been in their minds long before then.
‘‘Coming to Euroa has probably been in mine and Callum’s planning for as long as we had Bank Street — so when we opened Bank Street over seven years ago now we felt that Euroa was going to be our next destination,’’ Ms Toomey said.
‘‘It’s a beautiful town; there’s a lot of beautiful architecture here.
‘‘There was a bit of a gravitational pull to the township because of what it had to offer; it’s got a really unique feeling about it.’’
Already guests have shared many stories with the team about their memories of the flour mill.
‘‘Everyone’s got a story,’’ Mr Palmer said.
He said the mill had been run as an events space by the current building owner, Janet Fogarty, for more than 20 years.
He said it was Ms Fogarty who improved the building’s amenities, laying hardwood floors and opening up the roof space to reveal its large wooden beams as well as creating a beautiful garden space.
Ms Toomey said they had waited for the perfect space in Euroa to open up, and when the flour mill presented itself, they fell in love with it.
‘‘We wanted to be really particular about the building we went into - we just wanted it to be completely right,’’ Ms Toomey said.  
‘‘When we got to the flour mill, that was just the point where everyone went ‘this is it’.’’
The building’s interior now boasts a huge wall of shelves, housing about 100 varieties of wine from across the northern Victorian region as well as some wines from the Northern Hemisphere.
‘‘The focus of what we’re doing is really about the wine and being about to have a really broad offering of wines just to have a really beautiful breadth of wines people can select from,’’ Ms Toomey said.

Callum Kaka. Picture: Ray Sizer

‘‘We’re stretching up into the King Valley, stretching across to Heathcote, naturally we’ve got a really strong focus on the Strathbogie and Goulburn River valley wine regions.
‘‘The Strathbogie region is becoming really well-known for its Italian varietals — a lot of the southern Italian varietals grow really well here because it’s a similar climate.
‘‘You can tap into some expensive wines and indulge yourself a little bit if you want to. Or you can just go with our house wines.
‘‘We wanted to be a bit of a grown-up venue; we wanted it to be a place where people could come and relax and share some food and wines together.’’
Adding to the general atmosphere, Northern Republic has already hosted a couple of live music events with the plan to run many more in the future.
‘‘What we’re looking to do is have artists who are either Melbourne-based or who have had really great careers and we’re bringing them back,’’ Ms Toomey said.
‘‘We really wanted to create a difference by way of performers and have a really great offering, because that’s hard for people to get in the country.’’
They not only hope to provide a different experience in a country setting but also attract tourists from areas such as Melbourne, just two hours’ drive from Euroa.


‘‘The whole region is working hard (in the tourism space); I’ve been involved with the board of Goulburn River Valley Tourism for the past four years and that team of people are working really hard to get all the venues to start working together,’’ Ms Toomey said.
‘‘Adam has been working with some venues to create weekend activities where we can really start promoting down into Melbourne.’’
The venue this week announced they had secured You Am I front man Tim Rogers for Saturday March 16. Tickets can now be purchased for $95, which includes food from the woodfired oven, via Eventbrite.

Northern Republic, 17 Kirkland Ave, Euroa, is open from Thursday to Sunday. For more information or to make a reservation follow Northern Republic on Facebook and Instagram or visit www.northernrepublic.com.au/