Australian Office

Woolloomooloo as told by Owner Jimmy Yang

This week, '40 years, 40 stories’ brings you the story of one of the first Australia-themed dining establishments in Taiwan, the renowned ‘Woolloomooloo’ as told by owner Jimmy Yang:


The embarrassing admission with telling the story of Woolloomooloo is its unavoidably whimsical, almost joking origin. It had no lofty ambitions other than satisfying my personal incurable addiction to caffeine. As it turned out, there was in fact some deeper-seated hankering for my other home – Melbourne.  The ensuing chaos seemed to have struck a chord with my newfound compatriots in the city of Taipei.

Its unplanned nature was more than evident in its haphazard early years. Having had no professional training in food and beverage – let alone experience in running a business – it was an adventure for everyone involved, requiring courage on all parties (mine and guests alike) to enjoy this little mad house we call Woolloomooloo.

What made this little café appealing was perhaps its approximate microcosm of Australia; its laid-bare simplicity and comical honesty. An intrepid harbour of fun, driven by a spirit of adventure and powered with a positive ‘why-not’, ‘can-do’ innocence. A genuine love for inclusivity, diversity, community.

Ferocious vigour to share, to inspire, to invite. Absolute belief in the magic of human interaction, conversation, unabashed conviviality. Providing a stage for parties, gatherings, special occasions. Thrill in assisting catchups, welcome backs, teary farewells. All that we do in a sense of fun, energy, passion; roast, bake, brew, ferment, knead, grill, churn, turn, er, burn, and much more – all the while loving every minute of it.

This hasn’t been easy to write, having just survived a calamitous year of global pandemic where, more than once, we pondered whether it was wiser to call it quits. This invitation to write about Woolloomooloo happened at a period of self-doubt and uncertainty in its immediate future, feeling unqualified to comment on the state of food and beverage culture current or future, here or elsewhere.

However, there is one thing I can say with certainty, without a shadow of a doubt: Australia does the idea of cafés well - it’s in its nature, deep in its soul. I was blessed to have had it infused in me from my years in Melbourne. Woolloomooloo is still a work in progress. The spirit of adventure, the essence of Australia lives in us as we stride bravely into the future. Long live the spirit of Australia!