A couple from the New South Wales South Coast is using their cooking skills to give visitors an experience of Australia’s rich indigenous culture.

Story By Tatyana Leonov

Noel Butler and Trish Roberts opened up their appropriately named cafe – The Digging Stick Art & Food – in the New South Wales seaside town of Ulladulla in October 2012 after struggling to find a good cup of coffee in the local area. “Trish and I were chatting one day about how it’s hard to get a decent coffee in town,” Noel says. “And just like that we decided to open a café.”
They started with the coffee – Alfresco Sapphire Coast Blend. “It’s a South Coast company based in Moruya and we love the fact that we have this great product locally,” Trish says. “We started the cafe to pass on cultural knowledge through our art, and this requires a relaxed comfortable environment – with good coffee and cake.”
Noel, a teacher for most of his life, is well known in the local region for his unique wooden sculptures, including those along Ulladulla’s One Track for All, a two-kilometre cultural trail with Indigenous carvings and paintings along the way. Partner Trish is also renowned in the community for her singing, dancing and art. The twosome has been performing together (and with other musicians) for nine years. As a couple they have been together for almost five years … although still act like in-love teenagers when no-one is looking.
The cafe sits on one of Ulladulla’s busiest corners, and the art message is delivered before you even step inside. Sculptures (“They all have a story,” Noel says) confidently stand outside the doorway, welcoming you as you enter. Noel has made the sculptures, as well as the tables and matching benches (most from banyan wood) and some tables feature unique drawings he’s burned into the wood. His latest creation is a red-gum burl tabletop with a mallee-root base. It’s unusual shape and colour adds yet another visually exciting element to the space.

This Story is from Issue #98

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2015