Photos

Latest Good Times Only venue The Iron Yampi opens in Port Kembla

Connor Pearce
Updated April 25 2023 - 8:40pm, first published 5:00pm
Justine Parkinson, Ben Abraham and baby Rowan at newly opened Port Kembla nightspot The Iron Yampi. Picture by Anna Warr
Justine Parkinson, Ben Abraham and baby Rowan at newly opened Port Kembla nightspot The Iron Yampi. Picture by Anna Warr

With orange wine on the menu and VB by the can in the fridge, Port Kembla's newest night spot The Iron Yampi is celebrating the suburb's heritage while embracing newcomers to the Wentworth Street strip.

The latest venture from Wollongong hospitality crew Good Times Only, The Iron Yampi opened its doors last Thursday and had a line running out the door by Saturday.

While previous venues such as Howlin' Wolf, Dawgood, The Prince and Births and Deaths have been the work of trio Luke Symons, Scott Mileto and Ben Abraham - with the help of Jared Huk - The Iron Yampi has been a family affair of Ben Abraham and partner Justine Parkinson, with parents brought in to help with the refit.

And to get to the polished wooden floors, retro-inspired bar and sunny patio they needed all the help they could get. In what was formerly a furniture restorer, the building had to be stripped back to its shell before work on the bar could begin.

The bar's name comes from the first vessel to sail into Port Kembla's inner harbour,
The bar's name comes from the first vessel to sail into Port Kembla's inner harbour,
While the food and drink might be modern, the interior fit out is unashamedly retro.
While the food and drink might be modern, the interior fit out is unashamedly retro.

"The floors were covered in oil and stained with resin and the walls had hooks and holes all over the place from various things and the roof had hooks spiked through it," Mr Abraham said.

Twenty-one months later, and now with baby Rowan in tow, the pair have built the bar that they always wanted to see on Wentworth Street.

"Justine and I have always loved Port Kembla, we come to the beach all the time and we see ourselves ending up here one day," Mr Abraham said.

"But there's not a huge amount of restaurants and bars in the area, which is something that we would look for, if we were looking for somewhere to live."

The couple have brought with them the tastes and flavours of the moment, with all local breweries across the bar's four taps and a wine list designed in consultation with ex-Caveau and now Bangalay chef Simon Evans, featuring unconventional selections from neighbouring bottle-o and record store Yakka.

Pictures by Anna Warr

Head chef William Strong leads a five person-strong kitchen team, tasked with elevated pub food that mixes up burgers and chips with house made gnocchi and Irish bangers and mash.

A supper menu starting at 8pm ensures that late starters won't go hungry or have to settle for a bag of chips.

"We're a neighbourhood bar," Ms Parkinson said. "We want people to be able to come multiple times a week and still feel like they can get different bits and bobs off the menu, rather than just having deep-fried stuff."

While the food and drink might be modern, the interior fit out is unashamedly retro. The bar's name comes from the first vessel to sail into Port Kembla's inner harbour, and in a nod to the region's history framed photos from the Wollongong City Libraries archives adorn the wall, complete with catalogue numbers so diners can look up the story behind the image.

The cool-room door is repurposed from the meat safe door of the former butcher where neighbouring restaurant Little Thai now sits.

But in pride of place is a piece of driftwood, hand-carved with the bar's name by the husband of the florist next door.

Open Wednesday to Sunday, the family and dog friendly venue is happy to be part of Port Kembla's next chapter.

"Even if it took a little longer, I think it's come together quite nicely," Mr Abraham said.

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Connor Pearce

Connor Pearce

Journalist at Illawarra Mercury

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