When the venue seating is full to overflowing you know the outing is a success. This was the case when lunching with club members at St Andrews Beach Brewery in Fingal. The brewery also has a Wow! of craft beers which are theirs and theirs alone. Set in the non-operational Lee Freedman Stables with the racing track an extensive orchard from which the brewery chooses its products for the meals made on the premises, a whopping 64 members had a fabulous time. And yes, they were ‘encased in the (horse) stalls’. What a fantastic idea to change the enterprise into something entirely different and as a brewery couldn’t be more diverse than that! Everything was modern as the newly redeveloped ex-Freedman horse training enterprise opened just over a year ago.
An extensive menu kept tummy rumbles away, and the updating of news that abounded in each of the stalls was noticeable as the noise levels rose quite significantly. There was much to relay to others with arms waving in the desire to grab attention through the slats to those beyond. It was becoming hotter. However, the best natural air conditioning possible gently wafted throughout the box-like compartments. Not entirely as the horses would have been housed but the redevelopment ensured certain aspects of the past remained.
We could have done with the (old) horse swimming pool. That it had been heated is entirely beside the point! Anything to do with water was most welcome especially the refilled cold bottles of water on each of the tables. The day was super-hot!
Although in its infancy the standards already in place augur well so that the complex becomes entirely self-sufficient in growing their own crops. Already with 8000 apple and pear cider trees and with chook, pigs and sheep they are well on the way to ‘protecting the integrity of our home – the Mornington Peninsula.’ Website.
We were in awe of the size of the property and the history of “Markdel”. There were moments of contemplation about what had been here before; over 100 Group One winning horses from the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, and Golden Slipper. Numerous Derbies and Oaks winners trained at Markdel. No one hurried to leave the premises as did many of the horses that lived here so long ago. One could almost hear the snorting and hoof beating – picturing one of the most magnificent horses, Makybe Diva slowly walking the track during training and who was retired after her third Melbourne Cup win – ah, the imagination is a beautiful thing!
Thank you, John Becker, for a fantastic outing. Well received and one wonders how you will better this one!
Words Anne Kruger