Lucy and Jesse
2 Service Street, Porepunkah (about 6km from Bright, NE Victoria)
School holidays, public holidays and local festivities – every day from 8am – 4.30pm
During school terms, open from Thurs – Sun 8am – 4.30pm (coffee cart open Mon – Wed when the weather is good)
Closed all of school term three
From Coffee Chakra in nearby Myrtleford
There’s over 94km of bitumen sealed path now built over a redundant railway line from Bright to Wangaratta. The ‘Murray to Mountains Rail Trail’ (perfect for cyclists, walkers and runners) weaves in and around myriad towns in Victoria’s north-east, which is recognised as one of the country’s premier food bowls and of course home to the Vic Alps.
Let’s zero into just a slice of this superb infrastructure, where we’ll find a little local treasure right near the base of Mt Buffalo in the small town of Porepunkah.
Classic valley view from Mt Buffalo
In fact, before we come across the Rail Trail Café we’ll probably see their coffee cart first, set up right on the Trail fence-line and serving cyclists who are still on-the-go and just want to stop for a quick caffeine fix. We can even buy some handlebar clips for the coffee cup, so the minute it’s poured we can start to roll again. Why waste a moment in such stunning scenery, eh?
Welcome to Rail Trail Café, owned by local husband and wife team, Lucy and Jesse.
Since September 2008 the duo has been looking after locals and visitors alike with some of the best coffee and food in the area. Jesse’s originally from California and of Mexican descent, and one of his biggest loves in life is cooking for and feeding people. Hearing diners say they can taste the love in their food is a fairly common exclamation around these parts.
Cyclists in particular come here in droves for memorable carbo loading – think home-made quesadillas, Jesse’s special salsa, raising-the-bar nachos, poached eggs from the happiest of local hens, chorizo breakfast burritos and more. Yep – those who place their coffee order and DON’T stop might want to re-think that plan! The coffee is a Coffee Chakra roast from nearby Myrtleford, and is sublime. In fact the decaf tastes so real people often double check it definitely doesn’t have caffeine (which it doesn’t; beans are Rainforest Alliance certified). But back to the bike. Lucy and Jesse consider themselves everyday riders who will dabble in a bit of anything – commuting, road riding, MTBing; they’ve even purchased a quadracycle that comes in very handy for school drop-offs and pick-ups.
They purchased the land and building (which has seen iterations including a butcher, pet shop and electrical goods store) with the intent to open some kind of hospitality destination. They wanted to take their time before rushing into the decision, but locals caught wind of their intent and encouraged them to get cracking sooner rather than later.
Concurrently, the two had been doing some research and realised that they weren’t just imagining it; bike tourism was indeed booming and the region had experienced a veritable explosion across the past four years especially. It got them thinking – if they could serve the locals as well as the two-wheel trade, they might just be able to get this idea off the ground.
They’ve done more than that – Rail Trail Café is now a cycling institution in these parts.
Along with cyclists the place is a hit among families. Lucy and Jesse have created a fantastic outdoor exploration and play area for little people, allowing parents to unwind whilst their kids burn energy in the sandpit, on the hopscotch-style paver formation, or along the railway sleeper path.
Hhhmm – for sure have your coffee on the go before you head up Buffalo, but if I were you I’d be making a bee-line straight for Rail Trail Café once you’re back in the valley!