It’s already a local institution but the owners of the Axedale Tavern are planning a major upgrade of the popular pub.
Publicans Gary and Corrine Van Wynen are embarking on an ambitious five-year plan to build a conference centre and accommodation at the tavern.
It’s a plan they say will not only boost clientele – but “put Axedale on the map”.
A plan to build a wine cellar, accommodation and a conference centre at the Axedale Tavern will not only boost visitor numbers to the region but could also grow the size of the town, its publican says.
“One of the flow on benefits [of the proposed upgrade] would be more people coming to the region,” Gary Van Wynen said.
“With more people visiting here then you’d start to have more people looking at the region as a whole and saying, ‘this is a beautiful area to live, it’s not too far from Melbourne and it’s a whole lot cheaper than Melbourne.
”The you start to grow the community as a whole.”
Gary and wife Corrine are at the start of what they say could be a $1.5 million, five-year upgrade of the tavern they have already transformed over the last six years.
Mr Van Wynen said the project would take place over three stages, beginning with the upgrade of the existing 50 room conference area by doubling or tripling its capacity.
“Once you get to that size you can start to look at getting people from, say, the Bendigo Bank to look at doing their conferences here instead of being in the city,” he said.
“Then they may look at staying the night, doing the rail trail, going to Heathcote for the day, heading out to Lake Eppalock.”
Which is where the second stage of the upgrade would come into effect. The publican said he was planning up to seven accommodation units built in the heritage-style of the tavern.
The third stage would be ground works, with more car park spaces, and investment in the tavern’s gardens and outdoor areas.
And it wouldn’t just be business to which the conference centre catered, Mr Van Wynen said.
“We get calls for people who want to host weddings, parties and 21sts – but we just don’t have room at the moment,” Mr Van Wynen said.
“Once it’s built, people from communities like Knowsley as well won’t have to go all the way to Bendigo.”
The publicans are hoping to secure a government grant for the upgrade. They aim to start construction within the next 12-months depending on the building approval process.
“We’re pushing to get Axedale on the map,” he said.
“We’re very community-oriented and the more we can do to upgrade the tavern, the more we can do to for Axedale.
“We’re trying to grow the business, but we’re also trying to grow Axedale.”