LOVE and laughter returned to Chalet Rigi last month during the first wedding held at the Perth Hills venue in more than 20 years.
The iconic Swiss restaurant was a family favourite on Mundaring Weir Rd in Piesse Brook from the early 1970s until the late 1990s.
It lay empty for seven years until neighbour Mack McCormack bought the property in 2005, more recently deciding to restore it to its former glory.
“A lot of people here in the Perth Hills and even the City, either got married here, went to a wedding here, had a Christmas function here, it’s a historical hills events area,” he said.
“It’s good for tourism in the hills and it’s good for promoting local produce.”
Although the original building still remains, an extension and extensive renovations have seen the site transformed while also maintaining its unique heritage.
The addition includes a large balcony overlooking the Piesse Brook valley, a fully renovated kitchen, pizza oven and spit roast, restoration of the original restaurant and a new bar and large function space.
As a hills resident and former high altitude mountaineering instructor with the SAS, Mack said he wanted to keep as much of the Swiss history as he could, including keeping the Chalet Rigi name, but also pay homage to the Kalamunda Hills timber industry.
“I was a senior instructor for high altitude mountaineering and arctic survival for the SAS and spent two years climbing in Europe,” he said.
“My association with Switzerland is mountaineering and trains and going up into the mountains.
“I wanted to build out for the view over the Hills, to stay with the theme but also to acknowledge the local timber industry.”
A lot of the materials used in the construction have been recycled from Western Australian projects.
The pylons holding up the extension sat under the ocean for about 150 years as a part of the old Busselton Jetty and decking for the balcony as well as the restaurant’s refrigerated sea containers were purchased from mining auctions in the downturn.
Future plans include a childrens aqua park, a zipline, miniature train circuit around the property and possibly the world’s biggest cuckoo clock – a link to Mack’s great-great-great grandfather, world renown clockmaker Johann Beha.
Even a chain from one of Mack’s boats makes an appearance as balustrade.
Historically the site dates back to 1946, known then as Robbies Tea Rooms, owned by Mr and Mrs Syd Robinson.
The Tea Rooms and Mrs Robbie’s home baked cakes were popular with weekend travelers coming from the city to the hills to see Mundaring Weir.
Robbies Tea Rooms closed mid-1960 and was purchased by the Petrig family from Switzerland.
In the late 1960s the tea rooms burnt down and the Petrig family rebuilt as Chalet Rigi Restaurant.
Mack had the pleasure of hosting his son’s wedding three weeks ago as the first event at the venue in more than two decades.
No date has yet been set for a formal opening to the public.