IT MIGHT be hard to remember a time when the Whitton Malt House didn't exist, but the popular tourism hot spot is still yet to reach 12 months of operation.
Word has reached far and wide about this oasis that has been created in what was once a cotton paddock.
Thousands of travellers have visited since it was officially opened in November last year and there seems to be no end in sight for those clambering to head out and experience all that is on offer.
As the countdown approaches to the first anniversary of being in business, the Whitton Malt House has reflected on the many milestones and achievements already reached.
The business has not just put Whitton on the map, but the wider MIA.
Word of mouth and the power of social media have combined to share the good news about this world-class facility that offers something for the foodie, families, those interested in a delicious brew or whiskey, luxury accommodation and a delicious coffee.
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That's just scraping the surface of this facility, which aims to provide every visitor - whether it's their first or 50th trip to the malt house - an experience to remember.
When the Whitton Malt House first opened it hosted thousands of locals with Christmas functions - in the first two months over 2000 people were served the chef's Christmas menus alone - that's not including all of the other thousands who came through the doors.
Fast forward to Easter 2021 where 4000 visitors headed to the Malt House, with 1200 alone on Easter Saturday.
There are 11 weddings confirmed to be held at the venue during the upcoming spring season, according to Whitton Malt House general manager Diana Williams.
"(We have) nine consecutive Saturdays over September and October hosting wedding celebrations," she said.
"It's a bit challenging at the moment with COVID restrictions, but we are working with every bride, groom and their families to ensure we can continue to promote the Riverina as a destination for their guests to enjoy, not only for their wedding at the Whitton Malt House, but also as a short holiday where they can come prior to the wedding or stay after and spend money within our community that will benefit many businesses."
Research continues to establish where our visitors are coming from, but we know tens of thousands have come through already - from every corner of Australia.Whitton Malt House general manager Diana Williams
The business actively encourages ideas on how it can better itself, not just from visitors, but the community.
Dozens of local staff are employed, receiving training and coming on board to promote not just their workplace, but the region, its produce and the communities they live in.
Ms Williams said the malt house wanted to continue to form bonds with community groups and work on ways they can host events that appeal to wide audiences.
Think a world where restrictions are eased and music festivals can be held on the lawns of the facility, schools can host art exhibitions and much more. No idea is to big or too small.
A wetlands area will also likely be a new feature at the facility and more villa accommodation will be added.
There's a story behind every piece of food served or whiskey or beer poured and it's something staff are eager to spill the beans on.
"We're open to any and all ideas ... we want to continue to be offering a fantastic experience whatever time of year people are coming here," Ms Williams said.
"I tell our staff all the time, if they have an idea, we want to hear it. It's the same with community members. We have had some fantastic events out here so far."
While the restaurant continues to be booked out weeks in advance over the weekends, that doesn't mean residents and visitors shouldn't pop out to the malt house.
There's always options available for coffee and a treat and often you'll find a barbecue feast operating outside with live entertainment on nice days.
Some fun facts about the Whitton Malt House since its opening:
- There have been over 1500 whisky tasting paddles enjoyed at the whisky bar.
- Sister business Voyager Craft Malt has had almost 2300 beer tasting paddles enjoyed by customers, showcasing local malt.
- The Whitton Malt House fish and chips is a favoured dish using 2021 Delicious gold medal award winning Aquna Murray Cod.
- Activities on the grounds continue to be a popular draw card for individuals, families and a corporate entities. More than 15,000 golf tokens have been put through the slot - that's over half a million floating yellow golf balls that people aimed for the target to win a prize.
"We're open seven days a week with the aim of being a place for people to enjoy coming and staying," Ms Williams said.
"Research continues to establish where our visitors are coming from, but we know tens of thousands have come through already - from every corner of Australia."
Christmas functions are already booking out at the facility, meaning it's now or never to secure a coveted weekend place, but weekdays are also an option.
To find out more about what's happening at the malt house visit its website at https://whittonmalthouse.com.au/.
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