On our recent adventure to Melbourne in Trakka’s Trakkaway 860 we found ourselves on the back roads of South Eastern NSW and in the tiny but pretty township of Tumbarumba. It was lunchtime and right in the middle of town we found a place that was really pumping. Seriously. And it was only a Tuesday.
The place in question – the 4 Bears Cafe – is bright red and has indoor and outdoor seating; the latter on the somewhat sloping-but-wide footpath beneath a shady verandah. You can’t miss it: There’s a bright red 1950s Chrysler Royal parked out front, with bears asleep on the roof and bonnet – something of a giveaway!
Inside, the cafe is wall-to-wall stuffed bears of every shape and size. Literally. The largest would probably kill you if it fell on you. It’s kitsch for sure, but in a small town struggling to attract visitors it’s something out of the ordinary and well worth a detour.
The Cafe’s origins date back to Wagga Wagga in 2003 when the owner – nicknamed Bear – started the original business. Along with his three other Bears (Momma and two babies), he moved the business to Tumbarumba a few years back and the whole bear thing has really gotten out of control: there are more than 400 in residence now and the count continues to grow.
To its credit the 4 Bears Cafe won the 2010 Best Tourism Operation in Tumbarumba while one of its staff won Trainee of the Year and it’s been positively rated on Tripadvisor.com.
The Goldilocks’ Factor
I don’t remember seeing porridge on the menu (Goldilocks would be disappointed!) but otherwise the menu is quite comprehensive.
We settled on a ham and salad wrap and a nachos and both were delicious, although the service was somewhat glacial due to an influx of cyclists and their non-riding partners for a lunch break on a long cross-country ride.
Lunch (inc two coffees) was $31, which I thought seemed a little on the steep side for a small country town cafe, but Mrs iMotorhome says $15 each is average and to stop being such a tight arse (I’m paraphrasing). I also know pets cost a lot to keep, so who am I to quibble?
The 4 Bears Cafe is a bright spot in a sleepy town, although Tumbarumba itself has a quiet charm and is well worth exploring. Founded during the 1850s gold rush, the Town’s fortunes now rely on agriculture and, of course, tourism. It’s a little out of the way, but that’s part of its charm.
Autumn in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains is a lovely time of year, so if you have a penchant for bears, a love of country towns and are in need of breakfast, lunch and possibly dinner, put the 4 Bears in your GPS and get cracking. Just hope the cyclists aren’t there on their return ride when you arrive...
4 Bears Cafe
32 The Parade
Tumbarumba. NSW. 2653
Tel (02) 6948 3228
W: www.4bearscafe.com.au (what else?)
For the full article, including photos, download Issue 23 of iMotorhome eMagazine by clicking on the link below.