Waiting for a train? No worries at this Gympie cafe
IF GETTING there is half the fun, Gympie's secret new Rattler Cafe has turned waiting for a train into the best experience of all.
Well, the cafe may not be such a closely kept secret, but nobody has actually made a big fuss about it.
Since it opened, more or less on the quiet, on January 3, it has just gradually become a part of Gympie's cafe society.
And by "gradually", we probably mean "rather suddenly" really.
"We got absolutely smashed last Sunday," Rattler Railway Company vice president Garry Davison said when he popped in to see how things were going over the Australia Day long weekend.
"We wanted to give our new staff time to settle in before they got hit with too much pressure, to give them the chance to train up" he said.
"But we would have had about 200 customers, mostly for meals."
The cafe does an excellent range of coffees, using Noosa's Clandestino brand beans.
And you can get your choice of craft beer or cider on tap as well.
"We had a family fun day on December 16 and it was huge," marketing and guest experience manager Corinne Mikkelsen said.
"People have been popping in to see how we were going, so it was great to open up so they could try it for themselves.
"We just opened without fanfare on January 3 and word really is getting out," she said.
"We've got a fantastic chef and he helped with the design and fit out, so the kitchen is build for the job.
"He did a lamb pizza for Australia Day and it was sensational.
"He makes all his own desserts, from scratch, so what you get here can't be found anywhere else.
"And his desserts are fantastic.
"We've got a small selection of beers on tap and we intend to change them around to give all the local craft breweries a go.
"At the moment we've got Eumundi new lager, Larry pale ale and James Squire cider.
"There are so many micro breweries croppingh up. There's a new one just opened at Cooran.
And we want to get Cooloola Berries' new cider in too."
So what about that train?
With major track and bridge work set for completion within weeks, Mr Davison says the cafe has become such an attraction in itself, they will be able to make it one of the service's major destinations.
Instead of only running from Gympie to Amamoor and back, Mr Davison says it is planned to run the service twice a day, so visitors from the Sunshine Coast can get on at Amamoor, if they like, coming to Gympie on the return run and getting back to Amamoor on the outward journey in the afternoon.
That will leave them the chance for lunch at the cafe, visit the museum and shops and have a look around Gympie, he said.
"We're hoping to double up so we can give people more variety," he said.
"It basically means we are providing three train services for the price of two and giving customers more choice."
The service has other exciting prospects as well, according to Ms Mikkelsen.
"We're looking at full day foodie tours that would link up with the train and take people to farm gate markets, so they can really experience local produce.
"We also want to bring people to the Dagun markets, with their cheese and wine tasting events.
"There is also a lot of potential to work in with kayak and bike tours.
"People are looking to book in for the experience, not just the ride," she said.
And for those with a hankering for nostalgia, the cafe still bears the original sign, "Refreshment Room."