Continental House is a 'vegan life sanctuary' in Hepburn Springs. It offers modest accommodation as well as activities like yoga, massage courses, chanting and raw food workshops. They also have a vegan banquet on most Saturday nights. This is what drew a group of Vegan Potluckers to the Conti for a weekend road trip.
Most of the rooms fit two or three people, and they're pleasantly comfortable if not modern. There are shared toilets and showers around the corner, though Michael and I found ourselves in the one room with an en suite. This proved to be a bath room in the most literal sense, containing a nothing more than a bath and mirror! As well as numbers the rooms have nicknames (ours was 'Pixie'), after the murals painted on their walls.
There are also communal kitchen and lounge areas where you can rest and get to know the other visitors and residents. While making toast in the kitchen, Michael met a resident who'd been on a water-only fast for the past 60 hours. Why he was torturing himself by standing in the midst of food, I don't know.
The banquet takes place in a lovely room below the guest bedrooms. There's plenty of room for everyone staying at the House, and the ten of us easily fitted around the largest of the tables.
The Conti is entirely alcohol free, but we were treated to freshly squeezed orange juice as well as non-alcoholic passionfruit, strawberry and ginger wines.
The first course was a sweet potato, tomato, lentil and basil soup served with corn chips. As we happily slurped and crunched and chatted our way through it, we didn't notice the empty serving tables (pictured above) being stacked generously with more food. It was an overwhelming array of salads, dips and bakes.
My plate includes:
- a pumpkin coconut curry with chickpeas, coriander and black mustard seeds,
- beetroot dip
- a spicy pickled cabbage salad with bitter green leaves,
- more corn chips,
- a salad of tofu, seaweed, carrot and shitake mushrooms,
- a spicy squash bake,
- lightly dressed kolrabi and Chinese greens,
- and the table favourite, an orange dip of eggplant, capsicum, garlic and olive oil.
There was plenty to go around, with Toby piling up his third plate with avocado just as I was finishing my first.
This kind of banquet is hardly competition for Melbourne's degustation greats. Rather, it's stuffed full of home-made hippy goodness, what you might expect to find at a Hare Krishna restaurant (though with less deep frying). The tranquil setting is enough to set anyone at ease. That is, if your visit doesn't coincide with a raucous Vegan Potluck road trip!
Address: 9 Lone Pine Ave, Hepburn Springs
Ph: 5348 2005
Price: $70 per person, accommodation and vegan banquet