Ralph Vale - Federal Coffee Palace

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305 Commercial Rd, Yarram VIC 3971
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MURAL Ralph Vale - Federal Coffee Palace

MURAL LOCATION – 305 Commercial Road Yarram 3971 

ABOUT THE FEDERAL COFFEE PALACE – The Federal Coffee Palace building has a unique place in the history of Yarram and is highly visible as you come into town from the South.

Although not the first brick building to be built in the town, the Federal Coffee Palace is the oldest remaining brick building in Yarram (Victoria, Australia). The actual construction date is uncertain, but some historical records show that it was built in 1888 by Charles Stockwell for James Buckley, whose initials are on the corner facade.

The building was purchased by Peter Stone and Wendy Bouker in November 1990. The owners residence at the time was in the single-storey section at the right of the building, on James Street. The first floor was a ‘boarders area’, for short and long-term residents. Peter and Wendy occupied the majority of the top floor from 1991 till 1999.

The Yarram Coffee Palace Cafe run by Paige Eaton operates on the ground floor of the building.

WHY I BECAME INVOLVED – “I was originally approached by Wayne Tindall about the possibility of having a major mural painted on my building. It was in fact something that Wendy and I had talked about many times before and when I saw the calibre of the work that Heesco had done in the Yarram Bull Bar owned by Wayne and Anne Tindall, we jumped at it.

Although there were several candidates to have their face on this building, Ralph Vale for me was an obvious choice. Ralph was a Bullocky back in the day…he died about 10 years ago now. He lived up in Hiawatha and was known and loved by many in the area…. a traditional old timer.

Ralph took his Bullock Train from Walhalla to Port Albert for the 150th Anniversary of the port which was quite a journey. He even made shoes for the Bullocks out of old car tyres! He also used to bring the Bullocks down from Hiawatha to take part in the Yarram Tarra Festival each year. In the early days, some of the Bullock Trains had pairs of 16 which was quite remarkable. Everyone loved old Ralph!

Ralph represents the early settlers that made this area what it is today. I thought it was important to commemorate him on my building….and judging from the public response, I think I made the right call.” Peter Stone – Building Owner

THE MURAL DESIGN – “Peter played around with dozens of images for this painting and then Eric Greenaway and myself spent some time with Peter sifting through these ideas until we all finally settled on the image that now sits on the wall of the Federal Coffee Palace.

Logistically the painting was quite a challenge being on a corner and being two stories high, however the community were very understanding as we manoeuvred the Cherry Picker back and forth to create the image. Fortunately, Heesco has all his working at heights certificates having recently completed three silo projects around Australia.

The painting has created a great sense of pride and fond memories for many in Yarram, even reducing some to tears as the likeness of Ralph is represented two stories high in front of them.” Wayne Tindall – Artist/film maker

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