The building housing Cafe 1868 was built at the height of the gold-rush era. Back then it was the Stawell Literary and Scientific institute, but it’s lived several lives since: everything from a private residence to a hospitality space, and current owner Joanne White even ran it as the town tourist information centre at one point.
But after falling into disrepair in 1980, locals fought hard to save the building from demolition ¬– and the site was gazetted to heritage in 1982. These days it’s in best-ever shape, with new paint, polished timber floors and original features intact.
The lunch menu has a loyal Stawell following, but tourists off the highway can expect a variety of salads, toasties and wraps, a chicken and leek pot pie, and a nacho bowl topped with chilli con carne, plus daily specials. The grazing boards are ever-popular among visitors and are best enjoyed on the shaded benches outside.
When the Stawell Gift carnival comes to town, the cafe doubles as a breakfast haunt for the week over Easter. You can also hire the space in the evening for parties, functions or any good reason to park for wines, cocktails and tapas-style bites.
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