Coorong Café receives three year lease extension at Sugars Beach

Unique Café: The Coorong Café regularly draws tourists and locals alike to the Murray Mouth for fresh South Aussie fish and chips.
Unique Café: The Coorong Café regularly draws tourists and locals alike to the Murray Mouth for fresh South Aussie fish and chips.

The Coorong Café at Sugars Beach has successfully been granted a three year lease extension by Alexandrina Council, following an overwhelming show of support from the local community.

The popular café run by Peter and Heather Oliver had been facing an uncertain future, with their Mobile Food Vendor licence set to expire on December 31, with no rights of renewal available.

After seeking an extension of their lease, a period of public consultation was endorsed by Alexandrina Council, which ran between October 31 and November 22, 2019.

A total of 151 submissions were received by council during this period and of these submissions, 149 were in support of the Coorong Café having its lease extended, while two submissions suggested opening the area up to other traders.

Alexandrina's elected members observed this community response before unanimously supporting the café's lease renewal at their December meeting.

The new license contains a number of conditions, primarily to ensure public access to the reserve at Sugars Beach from which the café trades, "remains available and unrestricted when Coorong Café is not trading or open for trade the following day."

It also allows for the placement of temporary hay bales on site during summer and use of a second marquee within the licence area.

With the café now entering into its fifth season of trade, owner Peter Oliver said he had been "overwhelmed by community and customer support."

"Council also took the time to understand our certain requirements of running the business," he said.

"Although we trade from a van, it is not a mobile food van. We don't go anywhere else and we've invested heavily in infrastructure to make the site as close as it can be to a fixed café, with shelter, toilets etc.

"Council has seen that we are a bit of a special purpose café and thrown their support behind the decision and what we are doing I think has brought a lot of focus to the area."

Speaking at Alexandrina's December council meeting, Councillor Gardener said the café was a "unique little business and it is delightful sitting there at table on Sugars Beach eating delicious fish and chips."

Councillor Lewis was in agreement and said, "I've made it no secret that I think this is one of our hidden gems."

"I feel blessed bringing national and international guests to Hindmarsh Island and the fish and chips are extraordinary... this is a complete tourism experience," she said.

"The operators are providing a tourist destination and we should support businesses like this as best we can."

The Coorong Café operates as a seasonal business, usually opening on the October long weekend each year and trading until April.

Mr Oliver said the business was as South Australian as possible, ustilising local staff, product and drinks.

"I think what we're renowned for is not only the consistent quality of our food but also the experience of coming down to visit and enjoying the iconic setting of the Murray Mouth," he said.