THERE has been no shortage of interested visitors as renovations continue at the historic Goldmines Hotel.
After selling at auction in May, executive chef Tim Foster and his business partners Edward Hodges and Peter Barton secured a 30-year lease.
In the last four weeks, a team of workers has been busy carefully restoring, renovating and refurbishing the century old building.
“It's amazing. We have had the keys for four or five weeks and the number of people that have rocked up to tell their story about what Goldmines means to them is amazing,” Tim said.
“Some got married here in the 1950s and return every year for their anniversary. People are always eager to check out the garden and remember sitting here in the 70s and 80s when peacocks roamed around.
“It has been unexpected but we have heard so many stories. Obviously it’s an iconic building but it almost has an iconic following. It means so much, for different reasons, to so many different people.”
Dating back to 1857, the Marong Road venue was completed in 1872 and designed by renowned Bendigo architect Willliam Vahland.
Tim said the history and heritage features of the building were something the team was excited about.
“We love fact that so much of the hotel is original, and it’s a privilege that this building – built in 1872 – is still standing and operational,” he said.
“It has only changed hands a handful of times. So we’re looking forward to finding out more information about it as we go along.
“So many historic buildings get taken over and transformed into modern enterprises and you lose that history. We couldn’t think of anything worse. If we wanted that we would build a new building.”
The new owners and leaseholders have been working closely with the Heritage Commission to maintain the building while refurbishing it.
“The heritage team has been fantastic. Part of our business as well is to be the custodians of a historic building that has to be maintained,” Tim said.
The Goldmines’ strong structure and foundations mean the team is doing a lot of patch work and cosmetic improvements to the venue.
“There will be no structural difference,” Tim said. “Really the place is getting a whole lot of love.
“We’re re-painting, re-carpeting, bringing in new furniture, and creating spaces so the garden and courtyard have their own feeling.
The courtyard, which has been stripped of its furniture and bar, will be enclosed and have heating and cooling installed, allowing it to be used year round.
The lake and gazebos will be improved so that weddings and events can be held there from 2019.
“The building was painted not long before it sold,” Tim said.
“Inside we removed threadbare carpets, stripped some walls that had peeling wallpaper, repaired electrical work that wasn’t done right the first time and patched things around the place.
“We are also refitting the toilets and bathroom. Upstairs will be used in the future but the hotel is such a big project we are focusing on downstairs.”
“Everything we are doing, we want to do well and correctly. Our Kyneton restaurant (Source Dining) is in an 1860s building, so we know what it’s like to work in an historic building with heritage restrictions.”
Hotel’s hospitality a top focus going forward
With the Goldmines Hotel re-opening planned for December, Tim has two main focuses – food and hospitality.
But with the Goldmines Hotel known for being a popular hub for a number of groups and organisations, the staff also want to create strong links in the community.
“The focus will really be on the food and beverages, and the hospitality side of things but we also plan to incorporate live music,” he said.
“It will be more an occasional thing, not a regular thing, but we want to work with the community and be a part of the community.
“This should be a place community groups can come and we can look after them, we want to give back. Obviously, we’re a commercial enterprise but the hotel is a big part of Bendigo and we want to continue to be that.”
Tim had always planned to open a second restaurant after opening Source Dining in Kyneton five years ago and while the new challenge came a little bit ahead of schedule, Tim and his staff are eager to show off their talents.
“It is challenging and exciting. The staff we have are excited and it gives us an opportunity to keep excited about the industry we love,” Tim said.
“We are aiming to open some time in December. With garden the way it is it’s imperative we use it over summer.”
With a grand opening comes a grand menu. Tim is planning to please the diverse palates of every visitor. An all day dining menu from noon to late will be prepared in a newly installed kitchen complete with smoker and woodfired oven and grill.
“We are trialing things for the menu at the moment. It’s just a matter of scaling things back – there are a lot of ideas there,” he said.
“It is going to be a diverse menu we hope will cater to the Goldmines’ diverse crowd. You can call past for a burger and a beer on the way home or enjoy a more formal dining experience. The same menu will be available throughout the venue, no matter where you sit. We are also planning to offer a seasonal degustation menu and once we are open, we will open the cellar bar for premium wine and cocktails.”
Like many restaurants in the region, Tim has looked locally for produce in developing the menu.
“Everything we do starts local, as it does with Kyneton,” he said. “We look regionally before going further afield.
“There will be produce used from our garden in Sedgwick, Australian brewers, distillers and wineries but also the best of state, national and imported beverages.”
So many historic buildings get taken over and transformed into modern enterprises and you lose that history. We couldn’t think of anything worse... We love fact that so much of the hotel is original, and its a privilege that this building – built in 1872 – is still standing and operational.Tim Foster
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