Unlike other towns that grew up after the 1850s gold rush, Yea was desirable because of its great agricultural opportunities. But Muddy Creek Settlement, as it was known, was not even laid out as a proper town until 1855. So the first sale of town lots did not occur until 1856 and a primary school was begun by the Anglican and Presbyterian churches only in 1859.
Purcell's mixed business, now Marmalades. Yea
Eaton S Purcell left County Cork in Ireland in 1861 and first opened a mixed-business shop in Yea in the late 1860s. Purcell's General Store, the family’s second establishment, was built in Yea’s main street in 1887 in the Victorian Free Classical style. Times were good for Yea and for the Purcells - a branch railway line from Seymour reached Yea in 1883 when travel and trading both became easier.
Thanks to the National Trust, we know that the shop was a single-storey brick structure with a wide trussed gable roof, concealed at the front by a rendered and decorated parapet with a raised central pediment. A varnished and mirrored central partition divided the store centrally and an ornate balustrade surrounded a stairway to a large cellar.
Two recessed entrances opened to separate departments, with groceries and hardware on one side, and clothing and textiles on the other side. In fact the Purcells must have handled every product needed by good pioneering families of Yea and district, and even did deliveries by horse and cart to all the farms within 20 ks out of Yea.
Original timber fittings
I am not sure when Marmalades Café and Restaurant took over the old Yea shop. But it probably doesn’t matter - the old Purcell's General Store is still of architectural and historical importance, especially relating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
More recently, artists in the area have moved to country towns to avoid the hustle and bustle of the big cities. However that means they largely flourish (or flounder), depending on work they can sell to tourists. Yea council suggests that a feature of the town is the use of fine historical buildings as the site for fine restaurants - often combining the function of art galleries. At Marmalades, as well, the owners display and sell a number of works from local painters, sculptors, ceramics and printmakers. Above the country breads, jams, chutneys and berry sauces.
Yea townscape, 1910, Museum of Victoria