Not mushroom at Balingup Old Cheese Factory

Giant Mushroom (Photo: Steve de Vroom)

If you find yourself confronted with the vision of a giant 4-metre tall painted toadstool while driving through the tall timber country of south west Western Australia, it doesn’t mean you’ve ingested a magic mushroom, but it does mean that  you have just arrived at the Old Cheese Factory just outside the small township of Balingup.

This fantastic fungus lives in the back yard of said cheese factory, which incidentally, hasn’t produced a single block of cheese since 1975. Instead, it houses a magnificent collection of art, antiques, nick-knacks and the must-have thing-me-bob that you all ways wanted but never could find. There are countless rooms, hallways, nooks and crannies all crammed with illustrious creations from the artistic minds of dreamers and sculptors from around the district and around the world.

Built on the site of an old sawmill in 1934, Balingup Cheese Factory was supplied with milk from surrounding dairy farmers in old milk cans.

Photo: Steve de Vroom

The present owners concentrate on providing a centre for the display of south west art and crafts. The old coolrooms are used as galleries and the factory as a huge area to display and sell smaller crafts. The rear storerooms are packed with old farm and logging memorabilia and relics, and the boiler room remains as it was in the 1950s – probably the only large boilers of their type left in WA.

David and Mary Kent are the proud owners of this establishment and when I called in there, David was occupying the front desk, lost in the remnants of a newspaper, scouring its pages for something obscure, something uncertain… perhaps an ancient piece of artwork or furniture to add to the already bulging collection adorning this place.

Photo: Steve de Vroom

David, a Londoner, explained that one day back in 1991 he was sitting in a London pub, (as you do when you are a Londoner) minding his own business when Mary, a Balingup girl, swooped in and discovered him sitting there. Well, to cut a long story short, 19 years and 7 kids later, they are the proud owners of the Old Cheese Factory Craft Centre in Balingup.

So if you are travelling through the tall timber country of south west Western Australia and you haven’t been eating magic mushroom and you do see a giant 4-metre tall painted toadstool, you will know that this is the place where your yet undiscovered antique/sculpture/artefact is waiting for you. Don’t be shy. Go in and find it. You never know what else (or who else) you may come across.

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