Aerial photo of Blackwood River, Augusta

There’s an air of excitement as the finishing touches are added to the new Colourpatch Café in time for the official opening. Pendant lights are being hung from the ceiling, framed prints mounted on the wall and pot plants and furniture all carefully positioned.

The café has been transformed over the last six months, with owners Stephen and Carol Wall at the helm.

Augusta River Festival
The Colourpatch Cafe re-opens on the shores of the Blackwood River

“When I look back now, I can’t quite believe we’ve done it,” says Carol. Since acquiring the property in 2015, they’ve been planning a renovation, but it was only in April this year that the lease expired and they were able to make their dream a reality. “We always thought the position was worthy of something really fabulous. It’s quite unique because of the river frontage and then we’ve got the Southern Ocean just around the corner – it’s pretty spectacular.”

The modern weatherboard construction is all clean lines and nautical shades. Cream parasols catch the breeze on the deck, sunlight streams into the airy interior and wooden tables are ready to welcome their first guests with fresh seafood and a glass of local wine. A panorama of the Blackwood River unfolds through the wall of windows. Little details – the portholes, brass light fittings, the pelican painting, fish art, navigation charts – all invite curiosity and reflect the owners’ passion for boating. “We love to be on the water, cruising or fishing,” says Carol. “We’ve been coming to Augusta for 35 years and have spent a lot of time here with our kids. We’d take the little dinghy out on the river and go fishing. It’s a lovely place for family holidays.”

It’s quite unique because of the river frontage and then we’ve got the Southern Ocean just around the corner – it’s pretty spectacular

Colourpatch Augusta Seafood
Enjoy fresh seafood and local wine at The Colourpatch Café in Augusta.

The star of the show, which assumes pride of place in the new café, is Nomad. The beautiful wooden yacht has been lovingly restored and re-purposed as the bar. Against a backdrop of mirrors and wine bottles, the exposed hull with ornate brass lettering looks perfectly at home. “We always wanted to put in something interesting, something fun,” explains Carol. “Our architect Andrew Boyne, took up the challenge and found Nomad lingering in a Maylands boatyard.”

The boat was built in Albany in the 1960s, by retired farmer Jim Thompson. “He wanted to build a racing boat,” explains builder Geoff Longwood, who’s been tasked with the Colourpatch transformation. “It took him seven years and by the time he got it finished and finally raced it, technology had advanced so much that he came last. He never raced it again.”

Nomad made its way to a family in Bunbury and then finally ended up in Perth. Keith Leech, a local boat builder and carpenter, spent six months restoring the boat under a tarp in a light industrial yard in Augusta.

“The hull had to be stripped and resurfaced,” says Carol “and the deck was redone to look like a teak deck with the black corking and then varnished to be the top of the bar”. Lifting the boat into position was one of the first and most exciting tasks to be completed. “We lifted it in,” recalls Geoff, “and then we built the walls and the floor around it.”

It was a major milestone for the project and crowds gathered to watch the big event. “When it came to move the boat, I said to Steve we’ll just pick it up on the back of truck and crane it into position, and we’ll be done by morning tea. It took us all day,” he laughs.

Geoff and the team have worked tirelessly over the last six months to see the project through to completion, driven by a collective sense of pride and commitment. “As a builder, you’re constantly trying to coordinate everyone to work in unison together,” says Geoff, “and because almost all the tradies have been local guys, everyone has been keen to see the job done well, given their relationship with the area. I feel privileged to have been entrusted with this project and I think it will become something of an icon for the town.”

Augusta has long been considered a sleepy little coastal town with a laid back lifestyle, a place to unwind and enjoy the simple life.

“It’s going through a really beautiful growth phase at the moment,” says Geoff, “with the new $32million marina, the Ocean Grown Abalone, great local wineries and the Leeuwin Lighthouse precinct. Now the Colourpatch Café marks a major new development for the town.”

Carol and Stephen wanted to create something for the local community. “We both felt it was important to give the town something nice, something it can be proud of and something that people can come and use as their own.”

The Colourpatch transformation has been captured on film by Travis Morrison of Cinemaze Films. “I’m really excited that we’ve been able to capture some great video footage of this project,” says Geoff. “That didn’t exist in the past, and hopefully it’ll be something that future generations can look back on as a little piece of Augusta’s history.”

I feel privileged to have been entrusted with this project and I think it will become something of an icon for the town