The success of a top-quality restaurant has attracted other businesses to the small village of Millthorpe in central-west New South Wales.

Story By Sheridan Roders

The village of Millthorpe in the central west of New South Wales was given a fresh lease on life eight years ago when chef Tony Worland and his wife, Nicole, opened their successful restaurant, the aptly named Tonic. Since then, about 20 businesses have opened, plus a few more that have come and gone.
Before opening Tonic, a name that is actually a blend of Tony and Nicole’s own names, the Worlands were living in Millthorpe while Tony worked as a chef at Selkirks and then Lolli Redini, two of the top restaurants in thriving Orange, 25 kilometres away. “The old emporium building became available and I thought I’d have a crack at it. It meant being closer to home and I wouldn’t have to worry about drink driving,” he chuckles.
“We gutted it and put in a second kitchen in the car park. A couple of years later we renovated the old theatre next door and turned it into a wedding and events venue. I always get these crazy ideas when Nicole is pregnant,” he adds, with a twinkle in his bright blue eyes.
From the word go, the restaurant was a success, winning a hat each year for six years in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. It now pulls in up to 70 people on a Saturday night, half of whom are local, and the wedding business is thriving, with groups of up to 100 people.
In many ways, a trip to Millthorpe is a trip back in time. Originally called Spring Grove, Millthorpe (which means ‘village of the mill’) was renamed as a result of the construction of a flourmill in the mid-1880s, the success of which was dependent on the coming of the railway line and the construction of a station in 1886.

This story excerpt is from Issue #81

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2012