Alistair Coe and his wife, Yasmin, buy Robyn Rowe Chocolates for $1.7 million

Hannah Sparks 4 June 2021 55
George Southwell and Robyn Rowe and her family with 'sold' sign at Murrumbateman property

Agent George Southwell (front), owner Robyn Rowe and her family celebrate the sale of her Murrumbateman property and chocolate business. Photo: Ray White Rural Canberra/Yass.

Former ACT opposition leader Alistair Coe and his wife, Yasmin, have purchased the popular Robyn Rowe Chocolates business on Nanima Road in Murrumbateman.

Robyn Rowe Chocolates and the separate four-bedroom cottage, set on 9.6 hectares, sold at auction on Sunday, 16 May, for $1,708,000, which was $183,000 above the buyer’s guide.

Ms Coe and her mother, Karen Burraston, operate an artisan chocolate supply and online sales business in Canberra called Sweet Pea and Poppy.

She confirmed Robyn Rowe Chocolates would remain a chocolate business and that they were due to exchange by early September.

“Robyn and her family have created something really beautiful and I aim to honour her legacy,” said Ms Coe.

“There will certainly continue to be a chocolate experience for customers in the region, which we’re looking forward to and will have more to say about nearer to the time.”

Yasmin Coe holding gift box

Yasmin Coe owns Sweet Pea and Poppy artisan chocolates in Canberra. Photo: File.

Chocolate is a long-held hobby and passion for Ms Coe and her mother, who use native ingredients such as Davidson plum, quandong and peach in some of their chocolates, and cater to increasing demand for vegan and fair trade chocolate.

“We only use chocolate that is ethical and responsibly produced and traceable back to the source,” Ms Coe previously told Region Media.

“We have some amazing flavours along with some traditional chocolates with simple things such as sprinkles. One of our popular products at Easter has been a 200g egg coated in raspberry pieces that really replicates the flavours of the fruit.”

Mr and Ms Coe bid against two Canberrans and a local who intended to run businesses at the property, but not a chocolate business, according to agent George Southwell from Ray White Rural Canberra/Yass.

The auction was watched by more than 80 people who enjoyed cups of hot chocolate supplied by Ms Rowe.

Mr Southwell said the sale was high for a 9.6-hectare property with a humble home.

READ ALSO: Canberra entrepreneur acquires Commercial Hotel in Yass

“The healthy competition pushed it into a higher bracket,” he said. “Robyn is happy with the result and looks forward to moving on.”

Ms Rowe was born in Cowra and started her career as a mothercraft nurse – a baby and toddler sleep expert – before marrying and joining her husband, Denis, on his family’s local property.

At the height of the drought, and after the sale of the family property in 1981, Ms Rowe and her family left the country behind and moved to Sydney.

Robyn Rowe selling chocolate to children

Robyn Rowe said she is ready to retire and pursue other exciting adventures. Photo: Ray White Rural Canberra/Yass.

Ms Rowe was motivated to explore her creative talents in fine art and craft. Her hobby soon developed into a source of income – she sold her art, drawing, folk art and embroidery work at shows and markets around Sydney.

After their move back to the land – to a property at Murrumbateman – Ms Rowe continued her creative pursuits by selling needlework at the popular Hall Markets and as part of the Gift Makers of Yass cooperative.

She also loved to bake – petite pastries and tarts in particular – but it was a story in a magazine about the Margaret River Chocolate Company that opened her eyes to the possibilities of boutique chocolate making.

With the support of Mr Rowe and their children – Chris, Ben, Sophie, Lucy and Tim – Ms Rowe studied the art of chocolate making in Sydney and Melbourne, and travelled to Europe to research the methods of renowned Belgian chocolatiers.

After the success of her first contract – making chocolates for a local wedding – Ms Rowe knew she had found her calling, and Robyn Rowe Chocolates was born.

Rural property at Murrumbateman

The sale at auction included the chocolate shop and a four-bedroom cottage in Murrumbateman. Photo: Ray White Rural Canberra/Yass.

The business continued to grow with Ms Rowe’s chocolates winning gold medals and ‘Champion Chocolate’ at the Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show in 2009 and 2010.

At the same show, in 2011, Ms Rowe was awarded ‘The Most Successful Chocolate Exhibitor’, receiving one gold and five silver medals for her entries.

Sadly, Mr Rowe died five-and-a-half years ago and Ms Rowe said it’s too hard to keep going at her age.

READ ALSO: Yass to Murrumbateman pipeline provides water security, jobs (and better coffee)

“It is time to move on and have freedom again to be with the family I love, my old friends who I have neglected, and have some other exciting adventures,” she said.

Ms Rowe said the shop had been busier than usual since she announced her retirement.

“People are coming out of the woodwork,” she said. “Some are coming in crying, others are telling me stories about their connection to my place. It is very emotional and I am realising this place has meant much more than chocolate to so many people.”

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55 Responses to Alistair Coe and his wife, Yasmin, buy Robyn Rowe Chocolates for $1.7 million
Rastislav Zrelak Rastislav Zrelak 12:50 am 25 May 21


Casey Clarke Casey Clarke 4:08 pm 23 May 21

Gary Clarke Denise Clarke we missed our opportunity 😲

Kyles Moir Kyles Moir 8:50 am 23 May 21

Our horses are opposite this gorgeous property we’ve been rented to pop in and enjoy a hot choccie and chocolate whilst our boys eat away... congratulations to the new buyers 🙏

Anthony Fernance Anthony Fernance 11:03 pm 22 May 21

To be renamed Rowe and coe

Sally VM Sally VM 9:44 pm 22 May 21

Wishing you a lot of pleasure and success in your new venture together Yasmin Coe and Alistair. How wonderful to hear this great news. God bless. 🤗🥰💙

Andrew Cannon Andrew Cannon 9:25 pm 22 May 21

Jeremy Southwell up the George!

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 8:37 pm 22 May 21

I wish them every success. Would love to sample some, so hope local shops will have them.

Andrew Eather Andrew Eather 7:39 pm 22 May 21

Chris Rowe congrats to your mum

Janette Spaven Janette Spaven 7:39 pm 22 May 21

Good on you Alistair I wish you every success I’ll be sure to visit when I’m in the area

Melissa Jury Melissa Jury 6:13 pm 22 May 21

Joel Stone I want to go here

Illyria Tyers Illyria Tyers 2:19 pm 22 May 21

Better keep the quality up folks .. you have big shoes to fill

Renee Nay Renee Nay 12:07 pm 22 May 21

Best news Yasmin!! Xxx

Robbie Moße Robbie Moße 11:51 am 22 May 21

Regina Nioa maybe that’s why it was closed

Gary Carter Gary Carter 11:13 am 22 May 21

Congratulations folks

Looking forward to a Boorowa Car Club run in future. Will there be a gluten free option?

Becca Jane Becca Jane 10:50 am 22 May 21

Robyn is this where you suggested we try our next catch up?

    Robyn Willson Robyn Willson 11:11 am 22 May 21

    Becca Jane, definitely for some coffee and chocolates - also Poachers Pantry is close by for great food

    Becca Jane Becca Jane 11:20 am 22 May 21

    Robyn Willson we must do this soon then 😊

    Robyn Willson Robyn Willson 11:24 am 22 May 21

    Becca Jane definitely- I lost track when our last dates kept changing, but we should just get organised and do it!

Beth Forbes Beth Forbes 9:05 am 22 May 21

Congratulations Yasmin Coe and Alistair! So happy for you both 🍫 🏡

Marzena Zelechowska Marzena Zelechowska 8:32 am 22 May 21

Doug Clark Jeffrey Keyte Charlie Farrell.

New owners are coming, we will need to check out the taste of their coffee and chocolate 😉.

    Jeffrey Keyte Jeffrey Keyte 8:37 am 22 May 21

    Marzena Zelechowska Indeed we will ... hope they maintain the standards

Marty Cusch Marty Cusch 8:01 am 22 May 21

Nice work Alistair Coe!! You can celebrate Libs next win out there!!🙂👍

Chris Coble Chris Coble 7:54 am 22 May 21

Tom Kelly show Bubs this

Jeanelli Forbes Jeanelli Forbes 7:42 am 22 May 21

Beth forbes

    Beth Forbes Beth Forbes 9:06 am 22 May 21

    Jeanelli Forbes we will have to visit and try some chocolates 😊

    Jeanelli Forbes Jeanelli Forbes 9:22 am 22 May 21

    Beth Forbes definitely 😆

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