Gamilaraay woman and Purple Goanna chairperson, Suzanne Grech, has been hard at work renovating and reorganising. Sections of the floor have been retiled, the coffee machine and counter is now situated at the entrance. “It makes a difference,” Ms Grech said. “It’s about being there for the community. There’s a lot we can do. This is a unique meeting place – where else in the city can you get a roo burger, crocodile and emu, at better than mainstream prices?”
The new-look cafe boasts a selection of delectable desserts, including Suzie’s own Lemon and Myrtle Cheesecakes, available in gluten-free and mini varieties. “The whole point of Purple Goanna is to support and promote health and nutrition. A wider focus means we can share knowledge of bush foods and recipes through school groups, community groups and catering services.”
Purple Goanna also hosts various works by Aboriginal artists from the Northern Territory as well as the local area. Lorna Monroe’s portrait of Mum Shirl hangs proudly near the kitchen. A family history board is mounted on the wall. Referring to a photograph on the board, Ms Grech said: “That’s Mary Jane Cain, my nan’s grandmother.”
West Australian enterprise, Brothaboy, supplies stylish street-wear fashion items, available for purchase at the counter. There are plans to introduce a fruit-based cosmetics line.
Ryan Wilson is spending six weeks at the cafe as part of a national corporate-partnership program. Mr Wilson, who works for Westpac in Adelaide, has just completed a three-day orientation at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. He will now work alongside Ms Grech and cafe staff towards developing and enhancing the café’s work in the community.
Mr Wilson is enthusiastic about his stay in South Sydney. “It’s very different from Adelaide,” he smiled. “It will be an enjoyable challenge, just sharing some ideas and working together – it’s scary and exciting at the same time.”