9 May 2023

Brewing up some sweet sounds in Ulladulla's industrial centre

| Siobhan O'Brien
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Wombat Brewery owner standing with staff member and two customers

Aaron McKay, the owner of the Wombat Brewery, serves his thirsty guests. Photo: Wombat Brewery.

Think of an industrial area on the periphery of any town or city. Doubtless you’ll picture a concrete slab and warehouses filled with mechanics, joiners and wholesalers. But consider Canberra’s Fyshwick, home to fancy bike shops and designer furniture outlets, or Sydney’s Alexandria, which features Four Pillars Gin, one of Australia’s most lauded gin distilleries.

The industrial estate in Kings Point, on the outskirts of Ulladulla, is another case in point. The arrival of Wombat Brewery, a beer factory and live music venue, and Studio 5, a music production studio co-owned by popster Hein Cooper, hails the advent of a new era.

According to Aaron McKay, the owner of Wombat Brewery, opening in an industrial area was a “no-brainer”.

man pouring beer at bar

Aaron McKay, the owner of Wombat Brewery, serves his thirsty guests. Photo: Siobhan O’Brien.

“It means we have so much more space than we would anywhere else and even then, we’re quickly running out of space,” he said.

“Our arrival definitely means that we’ve changed the vibe out here at Kings Point, but in recent years people have come to think about industrial areas differently and what they potentially offer. Now they’re a place where people go to have a pint or listen to some smooth sounds.”

Mr McKay opened the brewery doors in 2022 after a decade-long love affair with crafting beer for family and friends. His hobby morphed into the professional production of a variety of beer that now includes larger, pilsner, pale ale, stout, and IPA.

brewery interior

The inner sanctum of the South Coast’s latest beer factory, Wombat Brewery. Photo: Siobhan O’Brien.

“People want diversity. Whether it’s beer, where they go and what music they listen to. Variety is what people expect and if you don’t offer that, they’ll go elsewhere,” Mr McKay said.

“As well as being a place for people to come for a beverage, we’re getting some great local musicians playing with us.”

Adding credence to this concept is Studio 5, in the warehouse next to Wombat Brewery. This creative space gives the area’s artists the option to record locally rather than travel to bigger regions. Studio 5 isn’t open to the public but musicians, divas and crooners use it to record songs or rehearse in a custom-built, soundproof room.

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“We call it the Tardis,” co-owner Jason Norris said. “A world within a room where musicians can make as much noise as they like without disturbing the beer drinkers next door. It’s professionally equipped so that the musos have everything they need locally. It’s about having options in our area and diversifying from the norm.

”We’ve had lots of different artists from up and down the coast through our doors over the years. It’s a place to come to record and relax. Hein Cooper also recorded his latest single, Weatherman, with elder Noel Butler within these walls.”

man and choir

Hein Cooper shares a special moment with the choir used for the recording of his latest single, Weatherman. Photo: Supplied.

While these businesses that sit side-by-side in Kings Point couldn’t be any different from each other, they’re creating a new normal for an otherwise humdrum industrial zone.

“We were lonely out here for a few years, but now we get to finish work and go next door for a pint,” Mr Norris says with a laugh.

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