Stratford Bakers hit the road

Stratford, located on the Avon River in Victoria, is just over 232 kilometres east of Melbourne in the Shire of Wellington and services the local regional community and travellers on the Princes Highway.

The town has coffee shops, cafes, a Design Gallery, a pub, parks and playgrounds for the many travellers who like to break their journey. As we have relatives and friends in Gippsland and beyond, we always stopped at Stratford, and the local bakery has always been a must, but sadly it hangs in the balance.

Loved by Many

An old radio announcer mate, the Late Keith McGowan favoured their jelly slices and often raved about them on air, while another old mate traveller Laurie Honan always looked forward to us visiting and bring the famous Stratty Bakery Bee Sting for afternoon tea. Of course a pie was also on the order list and maybe a vanilla slice; ok maybe a couple!

Covid-19, A Challenge

Last year when Covid 19 first hit, we knew tough times were ahead for many small businesses and towns and Stratford was no exception, and any small town that suddenly loses traffic volume is going to have a problem. That was the start of a problem for the Stratford Bakery run by Rhondda and Adam Watts who had been running the bakery for many years.

From last September both were up in the very early hours of the morning baking and preparing the goodies that we all love to find at a small town bakery. But as Rhondda says “the highway died in lock down times, other businesses and farmers were also suffering and it turned the town into financial sufferance for many”.

Finding a Baker, Tricky

“We tried and tried to hire a pastry cook and even an apprentice but there were no takers which surprised us as surely someone would want work, but no, no one did. We were up at 3am and working all day and the only result if we had kept going that way was that we would have both ended up in our graves. The only option was to sell up a business that we had built up with many many travellers over the years”, Rhonda says.

Chasing the Nomad life

The bakery is now up for sale and we hope that soon we will be able to again one day enjoy the delights that any small town bakery offers. So, what happened to Rhondda and Adam? They took off in their caravan and as I write this, they are enjoying warm weather in the north of Queensland. We wish them well and thank them for all those delights that have added to our waist lines over the years.