By Kath Gannaway
There’s so much to discover about the Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre.
Now operating as a cafe and community space under the wings of the local community, the impressively-scaled timber building is itself the first exciting discovery.
As you drive along the main Toolangi road through the forests, you catch a glimpse of something that invites another look.
The architect-designed building made from Victorian timbers including locally grown messmate and mountain ash, blends into the landscape and maintains a connection with the surrounding bush both inside and out.
Step inside and you will discover the unique Ecology Cafe run by barrista Wirrun Sky who has honed his skills in the cafe-culture capital of the Yarra Valley, Healesville.
The menu changes regularly, but is best described as contemporary-style with a twist.
It is overseen by a Michelin Star winning chef who utilises bush ingredients as much as possible. When it comes to meat dishes, hoofed animals are largely off the menu.
Rabbit is a favourite meat and Ginger Mick’s wild rabbit pies got rave reviews as part of a C J Dennis Poetry Festival dinner recently.
Soups, focaccias and hand-made breads are regular menu items with delicious cakes, biscuits and desserts including such treats as apple, chocolate and mint pastries, lemon myrtle cheese cake, black-bean brownies and orange and poppy-seed muffins.
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free foods are available.
You may discover something about the bush, a local artist or a fascinating aspect of history in the gallery.
The current exhibition celebrates the 150th anniversary of the description of Leadbeater’s Possum as a new species in 1867.
Thought to be extinct, it was re-discovered in 1961.
And, you may discover things about Toolangi and the surrounding districts that you never knew.
The Committee of Management members who greet you are passionate locals with a wealth of knowledge about the bush and the history of the area … and who love sharing it.
Keep an eye on the Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre Facebook page for upcoming exhibitions and events, including film nights.
Ecology Cafe is open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday and the cafe and centre is available for functions by arrangement.
Phone Steve on 0447 330 863 for inquiries.