COFFEE @ the Ugly Mug Coffee House, Richmond 2753.
Over the years I have visited enough small towns to know that it’s not always easy to find a cafe that is both attractive and serves high-quality healthy food and a decent coffee. Twelve months ago I could not find a cafe in Richmond that ticked all the boxes. Enter the Ugly Mug Coffee House, a relatively new and much needed addition to the Richmond cafe scene.
The Ugly Mug is conveniently located along the main shopping strip, central to all the most interesting locally listed heritage items, and directly opposite the historic Richmond Park, which is the focus of the town.
Surprisingly, even without installing new ceilings or floor finishes, the Ugly Mug has managed to create a very comfortable and charming space. The cafe is nicely colour coordinated and strongly branded. The bifold windows open up the space and provide that much needed connection with the park, which at 7.30am was buzzing with locals setting up the weekend markets, walking their dogs and participating in outdoor exercise groups.
The menu includes a contemporary variety of dishes and freshly blended juices are also available. My Mediterranean open sandwich was very tasty and the avocado and tomato sides were really fresh and the coffee was good. The locals seem to have really taken to the Ugly Mug as there was a steady stream coming in to get their early morning caffeine fix. If you are in the area around lunchtime I suggest you try one of the homemade pies which looked terrific!
NOW & THEN around Richmond
After Sydney and Parramatta, Richmond was the third area settled by Europeans. In 1789 ‘Richmond Hill’, as it was then known, was explored by British settlers, however it was 1794 before the first European settlers began farming the area on the flats of the Hawkesbury River.
The developing colony in Sydney was experiencing severe food shortages and so the produce from the flats of the Hawkesbury River was a necessity. The settlers’ farms were productive, however frequent flooding of the area significantly hampered an ongoing reliable supply of fresh produce.
Lachlan Macquarie was appointed Governor of NSW in 1810 at which time he was instructed by the British Government to select five flood-free sites along the Hawkesbury River to establish new townships. The farming communities already established in the high-risk flood plains were encouraged to relocate to the new townships so as to protect themselves, their livestock and their crops. Further, the establishment of the towns was intended to promote progress, expand food production, sustainability and self-sufficiency amongst the settlers whilst securing the prosperity of the colony.
The five towns selected by Governor Macquarie were Windsor, Richmond, Castlereagh, Wilberforce and Pitt Town. Richmond was the first of the five towns to be selected and was officially defined in 1810. Macquarie reserved land in the centre of the town for what is now Richmond Park.
The grid pattern of streets was established in 1811 by the Government surveyor, James Meehan. Richmond became an important market town and social centre in the region and remained flood-free between 1819 and 1857. During this period Richmond was prosperous; the town grew and successfully contributed to the steady flow of fresh produce to the colony.
Farming communities declined in the early 1900s, however Richmond remained a significant service centre within the region. In 1923 the Royal Australian Air Force established a base in Richmond which is currently used for RAAF transport squadrons.
A photographic record of my visit to Richmond, NSW
When done well, colour can have a terrific impact on a building and the overall streetscape. A coat of paint can allow an owner to personalise a house without altering its structure or blowing the budget.
While the dwellings below are not heritage listed or located in a heritage conservation area, their proximity to heritage listed buildings means that it is crucial that any works don’t detract from the significant heritage fabric of the area.
The unlisted dwelling above painted a shade of lime green that one may think should never ever be painted on a residential building but in this case it just works! The carport and veranda ceiling are also painted green and it is the deep overhangs, vegetation, and the fact that the building is single storey that make the colour so successful.
The blue and white cottage above is less of a statement, but nonetheless very striking with its very contemporary feel that still fits beautifully into the surrounding area without detracting from the locally listed heritage items nearby.
Local councils often have suggested heritage colour schemes for use in heritage conservation areas or for heritage listed buildings.
Just a note; painting brickwork or stone is not permissible if your home is heritage listed or deemed a ‘contributory item’ in a heritage conservation area. Before painting or rendering face brick, check with your local council’s heritage officer just to be sure as fines can apply.
Dictionary of Sydney, Hawkesbury City Council website, Office of Environment & Heritage – State Heritage Inventory.
Historical images courtesy of Kurrajong-Comleroy Historical Society and the State Library of NSW.