by Lindsay Braden - Researcher Anglesea & District Historical Society
The Bridge Cafe on Anglesea River
Up until World War II, the Anglesea River was the main attraction in town. Whether to fish, swim, race boats or meet friends, people travelled from near and far to enjoy its protected waters.
In 1920, a number of residents built changing sheds, a wooden diving tower and a swimming platform between the bridge and the Recreation & Sports Club Rowing Shed. The River bank was the social hub of Anglesea.
The sheds that lined the river provided ideal meeting places for the locals and visitors alike. In fact, the very first CFA meeting (formally known as the Bush Fire Brigade) was held in the Recreation & Sports Club Shed on Monday April 8th, 1940.
Mrs Adelaide Hedley bought a block of land close to the western bank of the Anglesea River, near to where the old bridge used to be. Mrs Hedley obviously saw the business potential of this area. In 1938 she built the Bridge Cafe and a house. The land was originally part of George Noble’s ‘Noorah’ estate.
The Bridge Cafe sold morning and afternoon teas and grills, summer drinks, confectionary, petrol & oil, and hot water for a nice cuppa. During the war years Nancy Hedley took over management of the business.
Life around the river changed after the war. People discovered the beach in a way that hadn't existed before. Surfing became increasingly popular and the drift away from the river to the beach began.
A guest house was added to the business which was then operated by H.G. & M. Hughes between 1951 - 57. Later it was taken over by J. Solly between 1960 - 63.
Originally there was a hand operated Shell petrol bowser out in front. Golden Fleece pumps later replaced this. In recent years a modern complex has replaced the shop and guest house.
While the Bridge Cafe may be gone, business still continues in this area.