COFFEE @ Polina’s Cafe – Cessnock 2325.
Far and away the funkiest café in Cessnock, Polina’s is warm, colourful and visually appealing. The tree trunk in the middle of the café acts as a supporting post, which at first glance, is a little unnerving but it does the same job as a milled piece of timber so … no problem!
The café is located in a less than ordinary building, leaving the décor to do all the hard work. The lights, the red and blue wall tiles, and the chocolate coloured walls create a really nice atmosphere and, whilst the tables and chairs are mismatched, they look great. A large truck tyre with a timber top forms the centre piece of a lounge style seating area that is orientated toward a small cosy fire place.
I loved spending time at Polina’s; the coffee was great, the lentil burger was delicious, and the bathroom is a stunning delight. Make sure you go even if you don’t need to ‘go’.
NOW & THEN around Cessnock.
Cessnock lies between Australia’s earliest European settlements; Sydney, the Hawkesbury and the Hunter. Pastoralists began settling in the Cessnock area in the 1820s. From 1850 the township developed as a service centre due to its location at the junction of the Great North Road.
In 1892 coal deposits were found in the area and collieries were subsequently established. By 1904 a private railway reached Cessnock to transport coal and passengers and extensive land settlement took place. The existing pattern of urban development, transport routes and industrial landscape was laid out at this time and Cessnock became the administrative centre for the coalfields.
Against a background of population growth and economic development, a number of hotels were constructed to cope with the increasing demand for accommodation by travellers and workers.
In the 1960s, underground coal mines became uneconomical and the emphasis shifted to open-cut mining in other areas. This change resulted in many residents looking further afield for employment. The growth of vineyards and the popularity of Hunter Valley wines increased tourism in the area, which has led to the expansion of facilities including modern resorts, restaurants, golf courses and activities including balloon rides, sky diving and equestrian centres.
A photographic record of my visit to Cessnock, NSW
The eye catching Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, located on the corner of Aberdare Road and Vincent Street, is an interesting example of the adaptive re-use of two Federation Free style buildings.
Originally the buildings were built by Morris Light, a former Lord Mayor of Newcastle (1925), and are believed to have been the first steel-framed buildings in the area. The former theatre and single storey commercial building were occupied by the Grace Brothers Department Store until the early 1990s.
The two main facades of the single storey building and all the external walls of the original theatre have been retained. A double height internal walkway enables visitors to view the exposed brick facade of the theatre including an original painted advertisement that was originally outside.
Cessnock City Council website, Dictionary of Sydney, Office of Environment & Heritage – State Heritage Inventory,
Historical images courtesy of Flickr Commons, Cessnock City Library (Image – Cessnock Hotel – BRN 68447)