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Castlereagh Country Store in Mendooran

Toute suite, and as mutually agreed, we reported to Karin Duce at the Castlereagh Country Store and Murals Cafe in Mendooran at 10 am. That was after refueling at the friendly neighbourhood garage opposite at 99.99 cents per litre, some 25.99 up on the Main Beach tariff.

Karin is a member of the Global Mural and Arts Tourism Association and wore the neck badge with pride. She is a veteran of the 1st Global Congress in Chemainus in 1998 although sadly missed out on 29 Palms in 2000. Her store is a mass of indoor and outdoor murals, from the counters and the cafe to the cash desk on high including the Mendooran Races and Rodeo and sheep shearing. She has also worked picturesque wonders at the Royal Hotel, the century old Tennis Club, elsewhere around the town and at its gateway too. And although one other group of artists has also added some elegant birds, everywhere else it is her own work. The murals tell some of the stories of the township and much of the surrounding land and animals.

She has elegant tales of why some local folk thought some of her ideas were not shall we say appropriate, and indeed knocked some of the better ones on the head. But she describes herself as a stir-er in her 400 people township, and now her fame has spread as far as National TV even the naysayers are wondering if they are still right. She was declared Telstra NSW Woman Small Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 and came third nationally.

Her ambitions are still to keep painting the town but immodestly to launch an Australia wide even global franchise of Murals Cafes. The menu she has in mind is already being tried out on Mendooran's visitors and the local populace. And for our own modest beginnings in Prestoungrange with talk of a new bistro service in 2002/ 2003 the ideas were greatly encouraging.

She came by the Country Store from a retiring owner who boldly announced to her that he was either going to close it down or sell it to her. In a moment of bravado that even she remembers with amazement she paid her $1 deposit and then surprised herself when the bankers gave her the necessary funding. From then on until GST it has been painting all the while ... but GST's arrival last year in Australia meant her nose had to go back to the store's grindstone for all too many months.

The pictures of most of Karin's murals which we took as we drove around in the rain are below.

Click here to view Karin's website and contact her at

Click on images to enlarge

Published Date: October 25th 2001

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