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Tin Humpy – a space to ‘mix and mingle’

Redfern has a new Indigenous-run café. We visited to find out more about the business and the woman behind it.

Monique and Yvette Lever at the Tin Humpy in Redfern Photo: Andrew Collis

Monique and Yvette Lever at the Tin Humpy in Redfern Photo: Andrew Collis

With its opening on July 2, the Tin Humpy replaces the Aboriginal-run café Biri Biri, previously located in the building on 137 Redfern Street. The new café is run by Yvette Lever, who has been an active member in the local Indigenous community ever since her relocation to Sydney with her children 18 years ago.

Yvette tells us that it had been her dream to open a café for a long time and when she heard that the owner of the building was looking for a new tenant she did not hesitate. And the landowner, a retired doctor who looks back at 50 years of work with the Aboriginal Medical Service, has always wanted the space to be an Indigenous café.

Yvette draws on three-and-a-half years’ work experience at the Grounds (a successful food venture in Alexandria), a recently completed apprenticeship as a pastry chef and a small business degree.

Her aim for the café is to offer a space where members of Australia’s various communities can meet and mix: “We’re realising it just can’t be focussed on one thing. We got to learn to live with each other and be with each other. And that’s what I’m trying to do. Bring everybody in, not just my people, but everybody; see our artwork, have a cuppa tea, maybe mix and mingle with each other.”

The outside and inside of the café seem designed to provide such a space: wooden tables and chairs invite customers to sit down outside on sunny days; on the inside, shades of white, light blue and green in combination with Aboriginal artwork hung along the walls create a lively and welcoming atmosphere. Customers can sit on cushioned benches along the wall or on comfortable chairs on the opposite side of little tables.

The menu seems equally well thought through: eggs, smashed avo on toast, or the Tin Humpy breakfast will satisfy customers looking for a savoury breakfast, while granola, porridge and waffles are there to delight anyone with a sweet tooth. The lunch menu features two vegetarian dishes beside various options with meat, including kangaroo sliders.

Yvette explains why she focuses on “modern day food”: “We’ve got one kangaroo [dish], a few herbs on the menu; but our city kids didn’t grow up on that … So, I’ve stuck to that.”

Yvette’s interest in the younger generation similarly manifests in her long-term plan for the Tin Humpy. She wants to use the space downstairs to teach groups of teenagers from the Indigenous community pastry baking, meal preparation or coffee making. She wants to give back to the community.

Tin Humpy denotes a small, temporary home made of tin traditionally used by Aboriginal Australians. It was Yvette’s son’s idea to call the café by that name. And the space seems to live up to its name: it feels a little bit like home.



To find out more, visit the café on 137 Redfern Street in Redfern, or their Instagram the_tin_humpy_cafe_redfern.

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