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Eight quirky conversions for your coffee, brunch or booze

December 21, 2017

A taste of Victorian architecture to go with your morning coffee. Photo: Peter Clarke

There’s something more attractive about brunch or after-work drinks in a building with an interesting back-story.

Around the country, a string of converted eateries have opened up in uber-cool suburbs and there should be no surprises that the city most heavily-populated with trendy joints is Melbourne.

From shipping containers to a Victoria manor, here are Australia’s eateries that are more creative than average.

Pink Moon Saloon – South Australia

The Pink Moon Saloon, in Adelaide, won best bar design and best identity design in the 2016 Eat Drink Design Awards. Pink Moon Saloon in Adelaide is sandwiched between two office buildings, making use of a previously disused alleyway. Photo: Supplied

The bar sits in a disused alleyway in central Adelaide just 3.66 metres wide by 28 metres deep, but can be relocated anywhere.

Named after the album Pink Moon, by musician Nick Drake, the bar was designed by architecture practice Sans-Arc Studio, with graphics and brand identity by Peculiar Familia.

The mini bar took out the best bar design and best identity design at last year’s Eat Drink Design Awards.

Ravenswood Homestead – Victoria

The property has been operating as guest accommodation since the 1980s. Photo: Supplied The property has been operating as guest accommodation since the 1980s. Photo: Supplied

Ravenswood Homestead was originally a sheep station and has been operating as guest accommodation and dining since the 1980s.

The 14-hectare estate, described as “the birthplace of Bendigo”, had its own train station and was built in 1857 when the Gold Rush was pouring wealth into the Victorian town.

Currently there is a 48-seat dining room, but it has a permit to build a 150-person capacity restaurant and function centre in the former stables.

The homestead is on the market for about $3.5 million.

Kettle Black, Victoria

Mosaic-tiled floors are one of the cafe's themes. Photo: Supplied Mosaic-tiled floors are one of the cafe’s themes. Photo: Peter Clarke

The Kettle Black cafe in South Melbourne opened in 2014 in a former grand Victorian-era manor.

Though you probably wouldn’t be able to tell if you wandered into the wrong side of the cafe – the renovation by Studio You Me seamlessly connected the foyer of an ultra-modern glass and metal-mosaic hybrid tower with the 1880s two-storey terrace, striking a delicate balance between old and new.

If you like dining al fresco, you can enjoy your coffee with a dose of heritage charm under the white wrought iron lacework.

Whitehart, Victoria

Weave your way in and out of the shipping containers for a change of scene. Photo: Supplied Weave your way in and out of the shipping containers for a change of scene. Photo: Supplied

Shipping containers wouldn’t typically be linked to a pleasant outdoor vibe, yet that’s what’s been achieved at Melbourne’s Whitehart bar.

Whitehart is built from steel beams and re-purposed empty shipping containers on an old carpark where filmmaker Stephen Johnson and his wife Sabrina Santucci had worked on other projects.

The couple also hired graphic designer Daisylegs to create murals and digital projections for the space, which opened earlier in 2017.

Higher Ground Cafe

Photo: Design Office. Soaring ceilings, exposed bricks and large arched windows make up the interiors. Photo: Design Office.

Higher Ground is a more recent offering from entrepreneur Nathan Toleman and the team behind popular Top Paddock and aforementioned Kettle Black.

The term transformed a former power station into a high-profile hospitality venue, and with 15-metre high ceilings, the name really rings true.

The Design Office team installed a series of mezzanines with an abundance of nooks, corners and perches to create a sense of intimacy in the enormous space.

Pizza da Mario, NSW

Photo: Who knows? The travelling shipping container could be serving up pizza in a neighbourhood near you. Photo:

These days, there are few materials more trendy than the shipping container. About the only thing cooler than a shipping container is a travelling shipping container.

Pizza Da Mario has launched precisely that, serving pizza cooked in a three-tonne wood burning oven imported from Naples in Italy.

You can track the restaurant here as it travels around Sydney.

Abacus, Victoria

Photo: Michael Wood Don’t expect an uptight ambience in this former bank building. Photo: Michael Wood

Abacus recently opened in a former Westpac Bank building in Melbourne’s South Yarra, but the vibe is far less serious and boring, yet puts the high ceilings to good use.

The aptly named cafe’s all-day menu is focused on a wood-fire oven, including wood-fired pineapple in one of the cocktails.

According to the venue’s menu mantra: “We mill our own flour, we bake our own breads, we cure and smoke our meats, we bake our pastries, we keep our own bees.”

Au79, Victoria

Photo: Instagram. Grungy on the outside but colourful on the inside. Photo: Instagram.

This former grungy motor garage in Abbostford, Melbourne, has 200 seats, an in-house roastery and specialist coffee and juice menus.

The name comes from the chemical and atomic symbols for gold – Au and 79 – but expect to see more than that, with splashes of pink, teal, navy and white inside the building.

Opened in 2017, it is the first original venture from The Coffee Culture Communication Group, which has bought other Melbourne establishments including Loco Coffee, Liar Liar and Addict Food and Coffee in recent years.

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