Echuca wasn’t always the bustling tourist town you see today. It started off as a humble punt crossing founded by ex-convict Henry Hopwood way back in 1853. The town consisted of an inn, a bark smithy, two slab huts, an unfinished store and a population of just 26. That was until the railway line opened, and steam boats were introduced, propelling Echuca into the largest inland port in Australia. It’s your perfect ‘from little things big things grow’ type narrative.
Much like our story here at The Mill really. Today inside this beautiful old converted flour mill you’ll find a restaurant and wine bar - a relaxed neighbourhood gathering space where guests from near and far come to share a meal, a drink, good company and conversation.
But boy oh boy, if these walls could talk…..
This old girl was one helluva powerhouse back in her day. The five storey iconic landmark was built by Lawrence Kickham in 1881 and operated as a flour mill for 95 years. To this day it remains Echuca’s tallest building. The purpose-built roller mill plant was one of the first of its type in Victoria, and was much larger than other provincial flour mills because of its location near major wheat belts, the bustling river port and the railway line through to Melbourne. Grain was loaded from the paddle steamers at the port onto trains and transported to the grain shed next door to this flour mill where it was stored. Inside these walls, large wood-fired furnaces fuelled state-of-the-art milling machinery, turning that grain into the finest quality flour you can imagine. Two-and-a-half tons of flour was produced per hour and was sent by rail to Melbourne for export across the country and around the world. In its heyday, we’re told that seven trains a day left Echuca, bound for the big smoke. Fine quality Echuca “Pearl’ Baker’s Flour was highly sought after until the mill closed down in the mid 1970s, and the building was used to produce stock feeds. Between the late 1980s and early 2000s it was home to two night clubs, before being repurposed into a restaurant.
In 2011, we had the great privilege of becoming custodians of this beautiful old girl, and not a day passes that we don’t feel enormously grateful that our restaurant is housed inside these historic walls. In naming her The Mill, and in creating a place here that supports regional growers and celebrates community and connection, we like to think that in some small way we’ve helped her return to her roots.
Gavin & Melissa Cole
The Mill Echuca
Food Joint | Bar & Lounge