Melbourne is not a city that screams sun, sea and surf. But it's where the board enthusiasts behind Three Blue Ducks are headed with their first Melbourne-based outpost at a new artificial surf park in Tullamarine.
"We get a lot of proposals coming in every week, and we say no to a lot of them," says co-owner Mark LaBrooy. "But this one was too good to pass up."
The mighty ducks – LaBrooy, Darren Robertson and Andy Allen – are opening the fifth iteration of their popular café-restaurant at Urbnsurf Melbourne, Australia's first surf park with its own two-hectare surfing lagoon. When it opens in late 2019, the lagoon should be capable of producing over 1,000 ocean-like waves, measuring between 0.5 to 2 metres, every hour.
"There's nothing like it in Australia or the Southern Hemisphere. It's exciting to be a part of," says LaBrooy. "It's not a substitute for the ocean. But we all surf, it's such a part of our lifestyle. It's going to be great fun."
The park has been under construction since autumn 2018, and is currently testing its "wave generator". LaBrooy says if all goes to plan, Three Blue Ducks will be on track to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner by December. The team, who are enthusiastic about local produce, have already embarked on research trips to Victorian farms, wineries and breweries, though they'll continue to use coffee by Sydney's Single O. The menu isn't final yet, but there are plans to focus dishes around a pizza oven, rôtisserie and charcoal pit.
"We'll do food that speaks to the region – I'm looking forward to doing slow-cooks, braises and warmer, more wintry dishes," says LaBrooy.
It's not the first time Three Blue Ducks have headed this way south. From 2012 to 2014, the team spent winters snowboarding and running The Gully in the snowfields region of Falls Creek.
"At the surf park, you'll be able to go out on your break, get tubed, then come back in the kitchen and cook," says LaBrooy. "When we see the first waves it's going to get really exciting."
Three Blue Ducks at Urbnsurf Melbourne is slated to open in December, Tullamarine, Melbourne.