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Canberra’s chocolate queen hangs up her apron

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Forget hunting for a golden ticket in a chocolate bar—the chance to own one of Canberra’s premier chocolate businesses is yours for the taking.

Nestled in Murrumbateman just 30 minutes from Canberra, Robyn Rowe Chocolates is one of Canberra’s best-loved boutique foodie destinations.

Offering visitors the ultimate chocolate experience—from hand-dipped truffles to couverture chocolate to decadent hot chocolates—its location alongside Murrumbateman’s rich array of cellar doors and foodie offerings means it’s the ultimate stop-off for sweet tooths.

Owned by the eponymous Robyn Rowe, who has dedicated 17 years to the art of chocolate, the picturesque shopfront is located on Robyn’s family property of Boolarong, with sweeping views of the countryside.

Now, after more than nine wonderful years, Robyn is hanging up her apron and putting Robyn Rowe Chocolates up for sale—along with the entire property of Boolarong.

But that doesn’t mean the decision came easily.

“At the end of 2020, I was finding the long days very tiring,” says Robyn. “I started thinking about my next birthday and the age I would be and that’s when I decided it was time to change.”

“I’m a bit of an all or nothing kind of person when I make up my mind to do things and there is no way I could have stopped before this….even now it will be hard.”

Robyn will celebrate her 80th birthday in November, which she says is “a pretty fair innings”, though it will be tough to say goodbye to Boolarong.

“Being a country person to the core, owning a small parcel of land close to a major city was a wonderful place to be. My husband Denis was a country born too, so we both had the desire to create something from nothing and make it ours.”

Having started with a “blank canvas” of land, Robyn and Denis named the property Boolarong, a First Nations word meaning “place of plenty”.

“We started with the lovely view to the north, the creek running along at the base of the hill, the lovely timbered hills beyond the creek with their scribbly Gums and Argyle Apples and the many logs to sit on to enjoy the quiet,” says Robyn.

“The area abounds in natural beauty. A great contemplative place in the dappled shade, where you feel a million miles away from anywhere.”

Located at 1153 Nanima Road with 9.6 hectares in total, Boolarong boasts a spring-fed dam and phalaris pastures alongside a three-bedroom, two-bathroom country-style home with a wide verandah and combustion wood fireplace.

This is in addition to the Robyn Rowe Chocolates shopfront and commercial kitchen, which is located in a separate building with sprawling outdoor areas to accommodate for its plentiful customers.

Robyn says her favourite part of owning her eponymous business has been the opportunity for creativity, having come from a creative family in her hometown of Cowra.

“I love doing fiddly things…attention to detail and drawing and having things hand done and hand made,” she says. “It is the chocolate that has shown me the way to create something big and creative. Seeing it grow has been exciting and challenging.”

“Some of the highlights have been seeing the shop develop from a small chocolate shop to a tourist destination. Seeing the first international flights come into Canberra…The growth from 13 varieties of chocolates to over 30 varieties now [and] knowing I have given employment to 31 people.”

For Robyn, it’s been a privilege to serve the Canberra community.

“My business has offered many groups the chance to enjoy themselves here for an outing, whether it was a disability group or from a nursing home, we have brought a little bit of happiness to some less fortunate than ourselves,” she says.

With the auction set for Sunday 16 May, Robyn says she hopes to pass the business over to someone with the drive to expand it even further.

“In an ideal world, it would be great to have someone much younger step into my shoes and take this place to the next level,” she says. “A couple involved in the chocolate industry or patisserie industry, would be perfect but there are many possibilities as well.”

As for what Canberra’s queen of chocolate will do next, Robyn says she’s in no hurry to decide.

She plans to find a new home in Canberra, and with four children spread across the country, she’s excited to visit Brisbane, Sydney and Tumut and to dote on her grandchildren “to start off the new journey”.

“I would like to be near the art galleries, and the ANU School of Art,” she says. “I would like to do some volunteer work with a charity I tried to support as much as I could during my business years and I’d like to travel overseas—when we are able to do so again. Also, catch up with old friends whom I’ve neglected because of business busyness.”

Find out more about the sale at raywhiteruralyasscanberra.com.au/properties/residential-for-sale/nsw/murrumbateman-2582/house/2498526

Photography courtesy of Ray White

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