22 January 2024

Looking for a true-blue tree change in the heart of Capital Country? Well, Rollonin

| Sally Hopman
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Woman with bunch of flowers

Renata Ryan of the Rollonin Cafe at Bowning is looking to the future after years running the popular business just off the Hume Highway. Photo: Facebook.

Creating the Rollonin Cafe at Bowning almost 20 years ago was a dream for Renata and Tony Ryan.

It was their own piece of paradise in the bush, but close enough to the highway to attract tourists travelling from Sydney to Melbourne, which makes sense considering it was an original Cobb & Co station inn circa the 1840s.

The couple bought it in 2000 and opened the Rollonin in 2007 – despite Tony being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness right in the middle of it. It was derelict when they bought it, but from the start, the plan was to use whatever original material they could.

But when Tony died 11 years ago, it started to become hard for Renata. Then you add more family illness, COVID and wild weather to the equation and it just all became too much for her to run the business the way she knew it deserved to be run.

READ ALSO Mac the gentle giant touched so many lives, from Bowning across the world

She has since put the property on the market – the whole thing. From the 1840s cottage made from convict bricks, complete with an underground cellar, the adjacent cafe and the blocks of land behind – eight acres (3.2 hectares) all up – some of which can be divided into half-acre blocks.

Renata has had offers over the years, but nothing that comes close to what she believes it is worth or what she and her family have put into it.

“I’ve been doing this, looking after the place, for a long time now and I’m just tired,” she said.

“Running it on my own is hard … I do all the mowing, the shopping for the cafe, cleaning. I don’t seem to stop.

“I have help, in the garden and some cleaning, but I guess I’m just tired.

Old cottage viewed from gate

Steeped in history, the Rollonin Cafe and surrounds are on the market. Photo: Facebook.

“It would be the perfect place for a family – to run the business and live here. It is such a beautiful place.”

Renata says all the hard work has been done – “Now it just needs a family that can put the time into what it deserves”.

The market is there, she says, with the cafe being located just off the highway at Bowning, for travellers between Sydney and Melbourne as well as those from Canberra. The venue also welcomes many overseas visitors, who revel in the unique site and its inhabitants, including Clancy the Clydesdale and his mate Eddy the donkey, along with peacocks and other wildlife.

Such is the popularity of the animal members of the family that when their former Clydesdale, Mac, died last year, thousands of people took to social media with their memories of the giant horse who was always available at the Rollonin for a carrot and a pat.

“It will be sad to leave this place and all its memories, but it’s time,” Renata said.

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