WATCH THE VIDEO: After the 2019 bushfires, the couple behind Sailors Grave are finally about to realise their ambition of building a farm brewery that draws people to East Gippsland, thanks to a Victorian Government grant.
The memories of the bushfires which swept through Victoria last summer are still raw for Chris and Gab Moore, owners of the East Gippsland brewery at Orbost, Sailors Grave Brewing.
“I still get emotional now,” admits Gab, who can trace family roots all the way back to the 1850s when the area was still best known for its shipwrecks and watery graves.
But the memories are tempered by the knowledge that it also brought their close-knit community closer together and is the reason the business owners can embark on a long-held vision for a farm brewery built around their passion for Gippsland.
“The fires really highlighted for us how fragile everything was – our home, our business, the community we live in. It was a really big shock and that shock hasn’t gone away,” Chris admits.
“At the same time, the fires really had a way of galvanizing the community and since then, we’ve noticed people putting even more back into the community.”
Chris and Gab Moore were already well known for their use of local ingredients and collaborations with local growers. Sea urchins, abalone and lemon myrtle sourced through a partnership with a local Aboriginal elder are some of the more exotic ingredients that make their way into their beers.
They say the fires have reinforced this aspect of the business which they see as an important way to tell the stories of the region.
“We always had a way of working where we were connected to community, but the fires just hammered that home,” said Gab.
“You have to be connected to get through those things – because it makes you stronger.”
The idea of creating something that brings people together and which serves as an incubator for other regional entrepreneurs is behind their vision for a new destination venue in East Gippsland.
“The recent funding we received will hopefully be a big game-changer for what we can achieve with our business and for the region,” said Chris.
“We don’t want people stopping in on the way somewhere. We want people to come and have a few reasons to stay right in the area – it’s going to be fantastic!”
Sailors Grave Brewing received a Bushfire Recovery Regional Economic Stimulus and Resilience Grant under the Australian and Victorian Governments’ Local Economic Recovery program
To learn more about the Local Economic Recovery program in Victoria, or see what else you might be eligible for, visit the Bushfire Recovery Victoria website, contact 1800 560 760 or visit a local Bushfire Recovery Hub.