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First Look: Makeshift

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Makeshift at Nishi is now open. 

But it’s not just a new cafe. It’s a new space entirely, or perhaps a new multipurpose space would be more accurate.

Reclaimed by founders of the NewActon precinct, Molonglo Group, the space has been turned into a café by day (by the Redbrick Espresso team, no less), bar by night and space for creative types always.

It will also serve as an event venue, with some events already booked in, says Dave Caffery, founder of Dionysus, the team tasked with running the space.

“Specifically it’s a workspace for university students, freelancers and staff,” he explains. “Anyone can come down and set up. We’ve installed power points and fibre internet connection, which is extremely fast and is free.”

Retaining the dark wood bar, the long room is now filled with all manner of tables, desks and armchairs with space to study, read, enjoy a coffee or even play a little backgammon. As Dave explains, he wants this space to be almost everything to almost everyone.

“It will be open daily and will change over time. We want people to come and have fun. We want to hark back to a time that was a bit warmer, a bit less minimal.”


As you can probably tell, Makeshift is far from a generic hot desking space or your average café.

A Rube Goldberg machine serves as an eye-catching feature artwork on entering the space, and covering a wall at the back of the room is flocked orange wallpaper provided by Hotel Hotel’s furniture curator Ken Neil.

Across the way there is the start of an intellectual book exchange, and beside the entrance, a record player and sound system are set up, with a retro microphone stand just waiting for someone to grab it.


Public servants wanting to escape their four walls will be winners, with Dave pointing out Makeshift will be the perfect space for employees from the Department of Communications and the Arts upstairs to use as a breakout area.

“They’re an artistic lot,” he says. “So we’re looking forward to entertaining them.”


Behind the bar you’ll find tea, coffee, juices, soft drinks, beer and wine and maybe even a cocktail or two. There will also be food served in the coming months, which will take many different forms.

“There’s going to be food provided by Chop Chop, the takeaway menu from Monster,” Dave explains. “And we’ll hopefully have our first street food vendor set up in here early next year. As the name suggests, the space will always be shifting.”

Dave also says they’re aiming to take full advantage of the breezy terrace that runs parallel to the cafe, as well as the concrete area across from the Nishi Building that could be used for summer events.


the essentials 

What: Makeshift
When: Monday to Friday, 7 am to 4 pm
Where: Just inside the Foyer of the Nishi Building on Philip Law Street, NewActon

All photography by Martin Ollman

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