MELBOURNE is awash with significant streets.
Metropolitan avenues boasting swanky restaurants and quirky cafes, trendy bars and hip boutiques, and a swag of shops selling everything from the sophisticated to the shabby chic are dotted around the Victorian capital’s busy urban neighbourhoods.
There’s Acland Street in St Kilda and Clarendon Street in South Melbourne, Prahran’s Chapel Street and Carlton’s Lygon Street, Sydney Road in Brunswick and Gertrude Street in Fitzroy.
But the special street isn’t exclusive to the big smoke with the blocks of some rural settlements becoming desirable destinations for holiday makers seeking even the shortest tree change in the pretty and peaceful corners of the state.
Piper Street in Kyneton – the central Victorian town a stone’s throw from Mt Macedon and Hanging Rock – boomed during the Gold Rush, when it was a busy stopover between Melbourne and the Bendigo diggings, but the address is blossoming today as a culinary hotspot with retailers and artisans occupying the space between eateries.
Damian Sandercock, a Piper Street resident since 2006 after opening Pizza Verde then moving a couple of blocks west to establish Piper Street Food Company, says one of the best things about owning a business in this part of Kyneton is the community’s esprit de corp.
“The majority of people in Piper Street are owner-operators, so the person standing behind the counter is the person paying the rent,’’ the charcuterie whiz explains from a table by the window in his new cafe.
“That means there’s a genuine sense of passion from the business owner about what they are doing, they are in Piper Street because it’s the place they love and they are running a business they love, and we’ve found that everyone works together here.’’
Piper Street’s Leanne Coates, the innovative designer and tailor behind the handmade clothes hanging on the racks in Cavaletti Gallery, started in neighbouring Daylesford but shifted to Kyneton after discovering the village “has a great soul’’.
“I don’t think I could run this business anywhere but Piper Street,’’ the fashion designer says of the Cavaletti Gallery.
“The locals are very supportive of businesses on Piper Street, they shop in town and when they have friends up they always bring them in to have a look, and the generation that has moved up here for a tree change is completely savvy about how much a coffee or handmade garment costs.’’
Here’s a little more about seven Piper Street businesses – and their passionate owners – worth a visit for those venturing into this charming corner of Kyneton.
Kabinett – 66 Piper Street
Melissa Macfarlane and Frank Moylan moved to Kyneton to manage the Royal George Hotel and opened Kabinett in Piper Street’s old general store five years ago to sell vintage furniture imported from Denmark, Eastern Europe and India.
“Rather than being a place for collectors, Kabinett is for decorators and designers and is the sort of place to come if you’re doing up a house and want something special,’’ Melissa explains.
“I decorate restaurants and cafes so tend to buy with the idea that a piece will have a commercial appeal, and if I don’t use it anywhere else it will come into the shop.’’
Annie Smithers Bistrot – 72 Piper Street
Annie Smithers Bistrot is a Piper Street institution after being one of the first fine-dining restaurants to open in the historic part of town and constantly winning awards for food and service in the years since.
Michelle Foster and Tim Foster bought the eatery 18 months ago, after relocating from South Australia and falling in love with Kyneton’s friendly atmosphere, and have worked to create a thoughtful menu packed with seasonal and local ingredients.
“If an ingredient appears on the menu then we want people to be able to taste it, and we are using the produce you wouldn’t always see in the supermarket,’’ chef Tim explains.
Mulch by Sabato e Domenica – 64 Piper Street
John Galanti and Ty Symonds – the design team behind Sabato e Domenica –have a store in nearby Daylesford and opened a second retail space in Piper Street a few months ago with the ambition of “blurring the line between shop and gallery’’.
“We called the shop Mulch because we wanted to sell a mixture of objects, but everything has a design emphasis as well as some tradition or history associated with it,’’ John says.
“We stock known brands alongside things that have been produced locally, and we love Piper Street because there are so many little shops but each fits into its own niche with the owner doing things their way.’’
Localita – 34 Piper Street
Localita is the second Piper Street project by Matt and Clare Fegan – the dynamic duo behind Mr Carsisi, one of the strip’s fine-dining establishments located just across the road – with the pair opening the casual cafe earlier this year.
“The main focus of Localita is beautiful organic, local, regional and Victorian food in a relaxed environment and we do our best to minimise our footprint with waste so no bottled drinks and we make homemade lemonade and fizzy orange instead,’’ Clare says.
“Localita is very different from Mr Carsisi, which is a Middle Eastern restaurant, and it’s nice for us to have something different both food and service-wise to keep us on our toes and happy in both spaces.’’
The Persian Room – 54 Piper Street
A visit to Iran in the 1970s started Margaret Jasper’s love affair with hand-woven rugs and inspired her to open The Persian Room after previously managing a jewellery store and restaurant on Piper Street.
“The quality of human creativity in this shop blows me away because we have thousands of rugs and no two are the same,’’ the Piper Street matriarch notes while perched on a pile of carpets in her store.
“Especially with the rugs produced by people from the nomadic communities because they don’t work to a pattern, they work from their head and that means the people creating the rug must go at the same pace and constantly talk to each other.’’
Piper Street Food Company – 89a Piper Street
While Damian and Bryanna Sandercock claiming their Piper Street business is “a picnic shop’’ – stocking all the gourmet goodies “you can take on a picnic’’ – there’s more to the Piper Street Food Company which is part cafe, part cooking school, part provedore, and part commercial kitchen.
“We have constructed a purpose-built kitchen where we will offer cooking classes in all shapes and forms, from short two-hour courses to all-day charcuterie classes,’’ the chef says.
“We want people to maximise the potential of the ingredients they’re using at home and understand the layers of the cooking process to get exactly what they want when they prepare a meal.’’
Cavaletti Gallery – 66f Piper Street
Leanne Coates creates beautiful clothes in her first-floor workroom above Piper Street’s old general store – the whimsical pieces are created from natural fibres including cotton, linen, hemp and silk – and sells the garments in the light-filled room next door.
“I used to make clothes to order but I’ve been winding that back to have a more significant range on the rack,’’ she says while leaning over her sewing machine.
“I also plan to host regular exhibitions, anything that has any story of textile or design agenda, and sell rare and out-of-print books.’’
Getting there …
Kyneton is 87km from Melbourne, an easy 60-minute drive via the Calder Freeway, with V/Line running a regular train service to the central Victorian settlement for those who prefer public transport. See www.vline.com.au
As well as the many shops and eateries on Piper Street there’s a collection of luxury accommodation options on offer including The Garden Tap House which was once the local mill manager’s home and is now set in the garden of a Piper Street nursery with prices starting at $480 for two people on the weekend. See www.thegardentap.com.au
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN ESCAPE ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015