The Mossy Cafe Story

Five minutes with Belinda Dorsett, owner of The Mossy Cafe Group
Mossy Cafe

Belinda Dorsett wasn’t planning to run a cafe.

“I had never worked in hospitality in my life,” laughs the owner of The Mossy Cafe Group, who had just sold her pet care business in Canberra when a friend suggested in 2016 that they join forces to purchase a heritage-listed cafe in Mossy Point.

Inspired by the restaurant-quality cafes that were popping up in Canberra and other major Australian cities at the time, the passionate home cook moved to the coast and threw herself into morphing the characterful corner cafe into The Mossy Cafe (now Mossy On Pacific).

pouring coffee

“I very much wanted to create a relaxed cafe atmosphere, but I also wanted to really deliver on the food,” says Belinda. Struggling to find staff, she took matters into her own hands.

“I realised I was going to have to do it myself, so I started a chef apprenticeship to learn the tricks of the trade,” says Belinda, who bought out her business partner in 2018 and has been the sole owner ever since.

Belinda’s dedication paid off, with The Mossy Cafe soon becoming a Eurobodalla institution, popular among locals and visitors alike for its relaxed, welcoming vibe and seasonally changing all-day brunch menu showcasing fresh local produce. Think: Honorbread sourdough, Bega Valley eggs and Guerrilla Roasters coffee – the latter was co-founded by a former manager of The Mossy Cafe on the premises

Eurobodalla Botanic Garden

While the double blow of the bushfires and the pandemic wasn’t easy on the business, this challenging period presented Belinda with an unexpected opportunity – two, actually – to put her Covid-era downtime to good use.

Enter, Mossy On Train and Mossy On Gardens, the two newest members of The Mossy Cafe Group. Surrounded by schools and childcare centres in Broulee, where Belinda holidayed as a child, Mossy On Train is the smallest of the three venues, focusing on great coffee and tasty treats to go.

plate of food

Mossy on Train was designed for busy people doing the school run who want to grab a coffee and a sandwich because they didn’t have time to pack lunch that morning,” explains Belinda, adding that the venue is also emerging as a popular place for customers to get some work done over a coffee or two – there’s free wi-fi, after all.

Offering an altogether different cafe experience – yet with the same Mossy flavour – is Mossy On Gardens. Anchoring the recently renovated Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, the cafe’s sun-drenched deck invites customers to linger over a wholesome meal in the beautiful natural setting.

“As you walk towards the cafe all you can hear is running water and birds and the wind through the trees – and then you look down and there’s kangaroos with their joeys; it’s just instantly peaceful and lovely,” Belinda says.

food server

Now with three cafes to run amid staffing challenges only exacerbated by the pandemic, Belinda jokingly likens her role – along with that of the cafe group’s General Manager Dean White (pictured) – to Selly’s gap filler.

“If a staff member calls in sick or something, we fill that gap,” she explains. “You can still find me in the kitchen, and also front-of-house making coffees and chatting to customers.”

Visitors to the original Mossy cafe will also notice that the indoor area doubles as a vibrant gallery-boutique showcasing the works of local female creatives.

“I’ve always felt that women don’t naturally shout about what they do, so I thought I’d create a space to help empower local female artisans,” Belinda explains. Customers will agree it’s just another part of what makes the Mossy cafes so special.

Belinda’s top five things to do in Eurobodalla

Driving through Murramarang National Park, South Durras
  1.  Stretching the legs on local nature walks. “We’ve got so much beautiful native forest around here, and I love exploring it,” says Belinda. “I like to take my three French bulldogs for walks on the trails up behind Mogo.”
  2. Dining at Chez Dominique, an itinerant French bistro run by a local chef couple. “They host pop-up restaurants around the region and serve this gorgeous, simple but beautiful French food.”
  3. Going for a country drive on a sunny day. “The scenery is just so beautiful in this region; on a nice day I like to just jump in the car and head out for a drive with the sunroof open.”
  4. Cocktails at Mami’s Bar. “This fun business in Batemans Bay do great cocktails and themed food nights, including a good dumpling night.”
  5.  Relaxing by the Tomaga River. “I live by the river and I love wandering out onto the public wharves and just enjoying the scenery.”