You travel through some spectacular mountain country to get to Noojee, a town twice destroyed by bushfire. The journey is worth it. On the banks of the Latrobe River among some of the tallest timber you’ll see anywhere is The Outpost Restaurant, The Toolshed Bar/Bistro and 4 timber cottages. They make up an imaginative and resourceful high-country retreat with an interesting story.
The Restaurant was an old farmhouse that was built in the early 1900’s and owned by 3 previous families before the Heaths bought the property they wanted to build. Malcolm and Sue wanted to build a house on the property, but were told by council that there was already a house and therefore could not build. They argued there wasn’t, but, after much searching, they found the farmhouse under a mass of blackberry bushes.
They then decided to see if they could turn it into a restaurant and a local architect and builder come to look at it. It was a mess, riddled with white ant and rotting timber. With a lot of local help, timber from the property and materials from old clearing sales they put together what we have today.
The Toolshed Bar was originally the old Toolshed/Chook house. With the same local help and a lot of innovative thinking over many slabs of beer, they had The Toolshed Bar. Ninety year old pine trees were milled into bar benches and tables that are now part of the famous Toolshed.
John and Barb Snelling purchased The Outpost Retreat in July 2003 in what they call a “Tree Change”. John had worked as head chef at Café Di Stasio in Melbourne for 7 of his 13 years there and gained a wealth of knowledge in his passion for food. Barb was originally from Noojee, having left at age 10 to live in Warragul for 5 years before heading for the city to pursue a career in Sales & Marketing. Their passion for Noojee is evident when you drive up the long driveway and see the haven they have created in this beautiful rustic setting. The Outpost Restaurant has again made The Age Good Food Guide for the 4th year running, and is the only restaurant in the Baw Baw Shire to have received a prestigious “Chefs Hat”.
Tourism is a major part of Noojee and John and Barb are active members of the West Gippsland Gourmet Country Tourism Association which is dedicated to showcasing the West Gippsland region.