What image does the word “Normanville” conjure up in your mind? Personally, it’s the 50’s American dream. Quaint little clapboard houses, with perfectly mowed lawns and sharp-angled hedges; mom-and-pop soda joint down the main street; a well-manicured community garden with men sitting on park benches reading a crisp newspaper, and ladies in knee-length skirts pushing prams. Normanville, Australia seems to be the Australian equivalent. As you drive in from the north you pass through Yankalilla and the houses seem to merge into Normanville – the crossing of town lines not clear. It seems to be fairly typical of a South Australian rural town merging into a summer tourist destination. The older houses you drive past are a bit weathered, but each has separate and well maintained gardens. The park on your left, although perhaps not the prettiest, is well kept and busy on a summer’s day. What appears to be the main drag of Normanville is dominated by cafes and eateries with a plastic mannequin in scuba gear standing on the corner welcoming sun-seeking tourists to try the wares.
Despite frequently driving through Normanville it’s not a place we stop or have any particular reason to go to. Usually its close neighbour Yankallila has already filled our bakery needs. However, in June we were with friends having a break down at the family holiday shack. The sun was glorious that day, warming up the ground from a chilly night and we’d decided to go for a walk in Deep Creek. The perfect, cloudless blue skies touched the still sea surrounding a distant Kangaroo Island as we clambered down gum lined hills, disturbing sun-tanning kangaroos. After a good two hours of fresh air we returned to the car a bit dusty, revived and also very hungry. A snap decision from the group voted pies over leftovers and off we went in search of a bakery. Having not yet rated the donuts at Normanville, and being the closest, we decided to try it out.
During midsummer I’m sure Normanville is thriving. In winter, on a weekday, all but two of the eateries were shut and the two that were open didn’t seem to be doing great business. We directed ourselves towards the bakery and walked into a scene of long rows of empty glass shelves. We must have missed the mad rush for only a handful of pies and desserts remained. Each of us opted for a pie and a donut to share and we sat down at the old tables to consume the contents of our little brown bags.
The pies, although simple, were phenomenal. The pastry was perfect, buttery and flaky but still holding it all together. The contents warm and delicious. A friend at the table, a self-declared pasty connoisseur, stated it was one of the best, if not the best, pasty she had ever had. The pies were value for money and I had high hopes as we turned to our three dollar donut.