At the beginning of the year, our team at Melba’s cracked open the archives and began relishing in the memories we rediscovered. We’ve been sharing these moments over Facebook, with many visitors commenting and sharing in the adventure’s we’ve rediscovered. The journey started in early February, when we discussed and exhibited never-before-seen images stockpiled in the office, showing the transformation of the factory. From the former South Australian Farmer’s Union Co-Op factory, to what it is today. Below are some of the images we shared on Facebook at the beginning of 2016, showing the state in which Joy and Graeme Foristal found Heritage Park.
25 years ago, a couple with a dream…
From the broken glass, to demolished sites and exposed brick, Joy and Graeme Foristal took it upon themselves to transform the factory, back to it’s former glory. They both poured their entire lives into renovating the heritage-listed grounds of the Woodside factory. As renovations continued, the Melba’s name and Heritage Park community continued to develop and expand. More and more people were interested in watching the factory take shape, with tourism students, local families and individuals from around the state chipping away and helping. The fascination of the public is an integral part of our history; as the network grew so did the opportunities available for Joy and Graeme. It was always a work in progress, but Melba’s flourished even as restorations continued.
Let the tours begin
It was in April of 1991, that Melba’s welcomed it’s first tour. The factory was still undergoing restorations, and the concrete ramp that led to the entrance was yet to be complete, but eager visitors weren’t going to let a little inconvenience stop them. It was in mid-April that we introduced the public to our techniques in chocolate making using the 1940s era equipment, which our team are still using in 2016. To this day we are still welcoming bus groups and tours to our factory, with hundreds and thousands of tourists visiting us as they journey through the Adelaide Hills on self-guided or tour adventures. But with every group that comes through our door, our team are eager to share their knowledge and expertise on the age old equipment they’re utilising.
Tours in all shapes and sizes!
We haven’t always had conventional tours either. Melba’s has been graced with the presence of choirs and orchestras, filling the early 20th century residence. The moments captured in some of our archives are unbelievable with many fans across social media surprised that such guests appeared in our factory. Besides these extraordinary snapshots, we’re always welcoming individuals from around the world, families, tour groups and schools. From the pitter-patter of little feet wandering the aisles, to the walkers that guide the elderly as they rediscover some timeless chocolate and confectionery; the crowds are always different and unique. These moments were captured and shared on Facebook and received an enormous response, with many surprised at the guests we’ve had. From the music of the choir and orchestra bellowing through the factory, to the rowdy seniors groups leaving our factory, each group brought with them laughter, charisma and anticipation.
Factory becomes a Tourism Destination
The Melba’s name grew and flourished thanks to the support network that developed in South Australia, and in particular, the SA tourism industry. And before we knew it, Melba’s was offered a coveted position on the popular TV travel show The Great Outdoors. Travel bug and Australian icon Ernie Dingo visited the factory for the show, and hysterically claimed to have found the 90’a horror movie icon, ‘The Blob’. In the video link below, you can watch him discover the factory and the magic that unfolds every day.
With tourism at the forefront of Graeme and Joy’s minds, it was no surprise that Melba’s was invited to travel around Australia to attend diverse and unique travel expos. At each of these exhibitions, the Foristals would ensure a display was available for those visiting, for example, product demonstrations or samples of the Melba’s range. Pictured below is Graeme cutting the slab of Peanut Brittle at the Brisbane Holiday and Travel Show in 1997, an image later published in the Brisbane Courier Mail.
Thank you very much to our loyal customers! We wouldn’t have been here for 25 years without your support. We are excited to see what the future holds, and can’t wait to continue to make delicious chocolates and confectionery in our beautiful, timeless factory.