Located on the banks of Lake Mulwala, an idyllic resort just three hours’ drive north of Melbourne, Australia, Blacksmith Provedore is a new hospitality venue that both celebrates and safeguards the town’s legacy as a classic Australian holiday destination. Melbourne-based design practice The Stella Collective conceived the venue as a modernist pavilion whose timeless elegance embodies Mulwala’s mid-century ambience and sophisticated ethos as well as introduced a new, forward-looking chapter in its beloved history. Jazzed with a chic decor that combines rustic and rock'n'roll accents, Blacksmith welcomes guests to a glamourous yet laidback all-day environment where they can eat, drink and relax in swimwear, kaftans or formal attire with the same comfort.
Lake Mulwala’ idyllic climate – long summers, mild winters and all year long sunshine that brings even Australia’s Gold Coast to shame – makes it the perfect destination for holidaymakers who can enjoy a variety of activities, from swimming, sailing and canoeing, to fishing, picnicking and bird watching. Built in the late 1930s as part of a major irrigation scheme, the lake transformed the sleepy community of Mulwala into a resort town whose popularity took off in the 1960s and 1970s. The designers tapped into the nostalgia for those bygone summers some 50 years ago, kept alive in the childhood memories of many Australians including Blacksmith’s owner Liz Bayles, creating an immersive environment that hovers between mid-century countryside clubhouse and utopian contemporary resort. As lead designer Hana Hakim explains: “To me the charm (of Lake Mulwala) is undeniable and I wanted Blacksmith to reflect this in an updated way, for the next generation to make new memories with their own families”.
Approached from the town, the simple white pavilion harmoniously blends in with the surrounding mid-century hotels and motels, whereas guests who approach the building by boat are greeted by a much more beguiling sight, a lush, grassed courtyard framed by the building’s rhythmic series of tall glass arches seductively reflecting the natural landscape.
Stepping inside through the giant arches, guests are met with a soothing combination of soft dry pressed brickwork, sand dune walls, textured tiles, warm walnut timbers, gold details and white onyx stone. Channelling the laidback elegance of southern California’s beach culture and the rustic authenticity of Mediterranean Europe, Blacksmith’s interiors seamlessly combine summer and winter tones and textures to create a seasonless ambience of enduring ease, made all the more inviting by the smell of freshly baked pizza.
Made with fresh, local ingredients – the one exception being the sauce which is made with San Marzano tomatoes from Italy – Blacksmith’s sparse menu of artisan pizzas can be enjoyed all day, all year round; in the summer, patrons can sit under the vintage-style pink patio umbrellas or at the circular cabana, which doubles as a dancing floor at night, to enjoy a Paul Hogan pizza with chilli barbecue prawns and garlic butter, while in the winter, they can snuggle with a roasted sweet potato and blue cheese-topped Sweet Byrne in front of the fireplace. The woodfire oven-baked pizzas are complemented by meat and cheese boards, a stellar selection of wines from local wineries, some of them showcased in a vintage Brazilian cheese cabinet, and an eclectic cocktails menu – think spicy Margaritas, passion fruit Mojitos and saty Martinis, complete with butterscotch and an espresso shot.
Part pizzeria, part wine & cocktail bar, part trip-down-memory-lane, the venue’s appeal stems from the carefree vibe and effortless glamour it elicits. Ultimately though, Blacksmith’s quintessential purpose is in Hakim’s words, “to remind us to walk on the sunny side, and smile.”