June 5, 2016
Drivers passing through Wondai’s roundabout over the past week will have noticed a new sign in front of the Wondai Regional Art Gallery.
The sign is the culmination of a six-year dream by the Gallery’s curator Elaine Madill, as well as a handy new facility for Wondai locals and visitors.
On Friday night, the Gallery officially opened its latest extension as a cellar door for four of the region’s largest wineries: Clovely Estate, Kingsley Grove, Moffatdale Ridge and Crane Wines.
From now on people will be able to drop into the art gallery to buy bottles of South Burnett wine they can take across the road to Dimities Cottage to accompany a meal, back to their caravan (if they’re camping in the nearby 48-hour free parking area), or off to a picnic lunch in neighbouring Coronation Park.
And if they’re unfamiliar with South Burnett wineries, they’ll also be able to grab all the information they need to arrange a visit to person.
Elaine said she’d first had the idea to add a cellar door to the Gallery back when the gallery’s patron David Carter was the South Burnett’s mayor, but had to rule the idea out initially because it was too expensive to do at the time.
But with the passage of time, the rules governing cellar door operations have changed and the costs had dropped.
So last year, the idea finally became do-able.
A stroke Elaine suffered last August threw an unexpected spanner in the works, but she was finally able to move the idea forward in the past few months and it had now become a reality.
Elaine said the Gallery would not be taking any commission on wine sales, and will retail the wines it sold at cost.
“All four of these wineries have been supporting the Wondai Art Gallery for the past six or more years by providing wine tastings in rotation at our opening nights,” Elaine said.
“South Burnett wines are easily equal to the best in the country and all our opening night regulars know that already, and I think we have a duty to get that message out to visitors, too.
“You wouldn’t go to the Barossa and expect them not to have Barossa wines on the menu, would you?
“So we’ve trained all our volunteers to be able to give directions to each winery, as well as outline what’s on their menus, their opening hours and other things to encourage people to go visit them in person.”
Elaine said she didn’t expect the Gallery would sell much wine initially, but that didn’t matter because the venture was really aimed at “5 to 6 years” into the future.
“I really think the South Burnett Rail Trail is going to be very successful for our region, and it’s going to draw a lot of new visitors to Wondai,” Elaine said.
“That will lead to all sorts of economic development, particularly in tourism, and with the Rail Trail running right past the Gallery we’d be crazy not to take advantage of that.”
Elaine said she also looks on the cellar door as an economic development for Wondai.
“The local economy has been a bit flat the past few years and Wondai has suffered from that,” Elaine said.
“But things are now looking up and I think this will help boost it. It’s time to move forward again and I’m very optimistic about our town’s future.”
The new cellar door is open from 10:00am to 4:00pm every day (except Easter and Christmas Day) and wines can be purchased at the front desk.
During warmer weather, the gallery also has a wine cooler which can produce a chilled bottle in five minutes or less.