Gay Potter and Graham Bulford have turned their retirement cafe into a major attraction.

Story and photos David Hancock

The Purple Mango Cafe was the third attempt by Gay Potter and Graham Bulford to retire but, like their previous efforts to lead a quieter life, the business grew to be so successful that they are now thinking of trying again. After all, who would have thought a cafe on a dusty outback track in the Top End near the Adelaide River floodplains would become so popular that, on some weekends, they turn away hundreds of would-be customers.

For Gay and Graham, retirement has always been about having a project that interests them, and if it makes a little money, then all the better. One of their previous projects – running exclusive catamaran tours in remote Kimberley waters – combined their mutual enthusiasm for sailing, Graham’s love of conversation and Gay’s passion for cooking. The business grew to be very popular but, after 13 years, they decided to move on to something different.

Why not build a home in a remote tropical location and run a cafe off the verandah? They thought it was a recipe for a relaxed lifestyle and an opportunity to chat with passers-by. Once again, they hit on a winning formula and their Midas touch worked.

The Purple Mango Cafe, 85 kilometres east of Darwin, is just off the Marrakai Track, an unsealed road that runs between the Stuart and Arnhem highways.

This story excerpt is from Issue #114

Outback Magazine: August/September 2017