The claim to have been to first to introduce Dungog to the espresso machine is made by the Garden Tearoom, opened by Georgina Clark in 1989.
The 1980’s was a time of great change for Dungog as in that decade Dungog lost, among other things, Croll’s Sawmill, the Dungog Butter Factory and even its last blacksmith. While the ability to get a cup of espresso may not have completely compensated for such losses, the Garden Tearoom and its espressos was perhaps a sign of changes of a more positive nature that were soon to come to Dungog.
For those who have seen the publication Ah Dungog detailing the stories behind many of Dungog’s wonderful buildings, the entry on 205 Dowling Street needs some correction. Ah Dungog, or rather its author – Michael Williams – mistakenly has Crazy Chairs opening in 1983 rather than 1993 and implies this was the building’s first cafe. The corrected version is that the Garden Tearoom in 1989 was its first cafe, replacing Wood Peckers – a used furniture store. Since Georgina’s time this Dowling Street shop (originally built as the Centennial Hall) has continued to be a cafe: Crazy Chairs, then Poet’s Table and now Chillbillies.
[For those with an interest – Ah Dungog can be purchased from the Dungog Visitors Information Centre.]
In the nearly two and a half decade’s since Dungogites could first get an espresso, many cafe’s have opened as social habits have changed. Georgina can recall that sitting in a cafe with passersby able to look in at customers was at first so unsettling for some locals that she had to put up curtains! Nowadays people shop and remained for a coffee and a chat, where once they simply headed straight home for a cup of tea.