To the delight of residents from kilometres around, Wartook’s Wander Inn has reopened its doors in recent weeks.
And its new owner/manager says they’re just getting started.
Vicki Plunkett reopened the business on Northern Grampians road on December 14. It is currently open Thursday to Sunday for lunch, and Friday and Saturday for dinner.
Ms Plunkett has plans to be open seven days next month, once she hires a chef. She said this was far from her first foray into the hospitality market.
“I’ve been operating a live music venue and seafood restaurant on the Bellarine Peninsula for five years,” she said.
“I left Horsham 40 years ago, spent 25 years in Melbourne, mostly in Williamstown, had a gallery and restaurants there, moved down to the Bellarine 15 years ago, and I’ve moved around and had other restaurants.
“My family has always lived up in Horsham, and my mother is getting elderly. My brother found this, and I thought it was time to come home.
This may be the first time the Wander Inn is playing a central part in in Ms Plunkett’s life, but her indirect association with the institution goes back decades.
“As a young girl, believe it or not, I lived next to Graham Wood who originally built the building. His brother Robert is married to my girlfriend’s sister. So I did know about the Wander Inn and the pottery.
“I am going to start up a gallery in the front room.”
Ms Plunkett has grand plans for the Wander Inn, with renovations planned to start next month.
“We see this as a great opportunity to do weddings, functions, live music and accommodation in a beautiful setting.”
While Ms Plunkett also thanked locals and tourists alike for embracing the reopening.
“They have been absolutely amazing. Everyone that comes in says they’re just down the road, and the support has just been incredible. I’ve had a lot of people who I knew earlier in life turn up and say ‘Oh you don’t remember me, do you?’, so it’s been amazing to meet everyone again. And tourists, so it’s been a three-way split.
Ms Plunkett says each of these groups has been waiting for something like the Wander Inn to open in the area.
“People need something to come to, and if they’re going to drive out from Horsham, we are the only business on the road between there and Halls Gap.”