The Institutions: The Dobinson family has been baking their traditional Aussie pies for more than 125 years

Amelia Bidgood 30 July 2021 61
Andrew Leggett with tray of pies.

Andrew Leggett: the next generation of ‘Dobinsons’ manning the ovens. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Australians have been devouring the humble meat pie for hundreds of years. There’s something so satisfying and comforting about the simple combination of pastry, meat and gravy.

Five generations of the Dobinson family have produced traditional Australian baked goods for more than 125 years and Sue Dobinson has been operating her business in Canberra for more than 25 years.

Baking is clearly in Sue’s blood. She’s happily followed in the footsteps of her great grandparents who opened their first bakery in the late 1800s in Kyogle, a small town west of Byron Bay in Northern NSW.

Sue opened her bakery, Baker Bills, at Canberra’s City Market in the mid-1990s. In 2000, she moved to the well-known Bunda St location where Dobinsons quickly became the much-loved Canberra institution it remains to this day.

At the beginning of the year, Sue decided to shut the bakery and café on Bunda St so she could focus on the other three locations and open the newest Dobinsons bakery in Gungahlin.

“It was sad to close the city store because we had so many customers there that we had for decades, so it was really difficult,” she said.

She says her customers, great staff, hard work and consistency are some of the reasons she’s still in business today.

“My son, daughter and I often discuss the direction of the business because it has supported my entire family for so long, and it’s all of our livelihoods.”

Sue’s daughter still works in the business, and her son Andrew is now her business partner.

Dobinsons Bakery, Gungahlin.

Dobinsons Bakery has expanded to Gungahlin.

“Many double and triple shifts with lots of hard work has gone into building this business, and I’ve gone from working 10 to 12 hours at the front of store to then going to the factory for 10 hours to work on the products.

“We have every product available every day, even if people call in sick.

“We come together as a team and get it done, even if I have to call around and ask people for favours like borrowing different machinery or putting in extra hours,” she said.

I chat with Sue on the phone and she apologies in advance for the expected interruptions. She’s behind the coffee machine at the Tuggeranong bakery, steaming milk, grinding coffee beans and pouring espresso shots while happily calling out the names of customers to collect their morning caffeine hit.

Sue’s friendly voice beams through the phone as she thanks her customers and tells them to have a great day during our conversation.

This in itself is a testament to how dedicated Sue is to her business and to her customers.

She’s always focussed on delivering high-quality and affordable traditional Australian bakery products.

Some of the top sellers are the plain pies, sausage rolls, apple pies, custard tarts, almond croissants, vanilla slices, cookies, sandwiches and quiches.

The recipes have changed and evolved over the years, but the traditional pies and sausage rolls are her grandfather’s recipes, and the lamingtons are similar to ones she made at her original bakery.

“Quality control is something we’re paramount about, and I’m at the factory every day if I’m in Canberra.

“Everything is fresh and everything is done in store. We take care with everything we do.

“There always has been and always will be food trends. Sometimes we tweak things a little, but we always end up going back to what people know and love.”

She said it was tough dealing with the impacts from the bushfires and then COVID-19.

“The bushfires were horrific for business, and just when you thought everything was ready to settle down, COVID-19 hit.

“It’s been very tough, and when it first hit, just like every business owner, we didn’t know what was going to happen. We were petrified, and like many other businesses, we had to sell assets at the start because we didn’t know what was going to happen.

“It’s never really recovered, but we are very fortunate that all of our stores are placed at the front of supermarkets, so even through lockdown, we’ve been able to operate our stores, except in the city.”

“We feel very lucky to have all of our beautiful long-term customers who love us dearly, and we love them as well.”

The banoffee pie, steak and potato pie and their sausage rolls are a few of my favourites things to order when I visit Dobinsons. What are your favourite Dobinsons products?

Dobinsons is located at Westfield Belconnen, Westfield Woden, Tuggeranong Hyperdome and Marketplace Gungahlin. Visit the Dobinsons Canberra for locations and opening times.

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61 Responses to The Institutions: The Dobinson family has been baking their traditional Aussie pies for more than 125 years
Sandra Hannah Sandra Hannah 1:14 pm 04 Aug 21

Love it. But would like to be able to know the individuals calories of them

Marcia Peel Marcia Peel 6:46 pm 31 Jul 21

Bring it back to the city please

Kellie Kirchner Kellie Kirchner 4:24 pm 31 Jul 21

Love them

Tracey Murphy Tracey Murphy 3:34 pm 31 Jul 21

Wish Dobinson’s had never left the city …. 😳

    Maree Ashley Maree Ashley 4:09 pm 31 Jul 21

    Tracey Murphy I still remember Dobinson’s sausage roll morning teas. The best!

    I’ve also just discovered they have just opened a store in Gungahlin! 🍰🤦‍♀️

    Tracey Murphy Tracey Murphy 4:30 pm 31 Jul 21

    Maree Ashley and Woden - all is not lost!!!

Noeline Mills Noeline Mills 8:46 am 31 Jul 21

Best Vanilla Slices and pies

Patricia Ann Aitken-Coulthard Patricia Ann Aitken-Coulthard 8:07 am 31 Jul 21

Best pies ever.

Margaret Dudley Margaret Dudley 8:07 pm 30 Jul 21

Best sausage rolls

Koley Quirk Koley Quirk 6:54 pm 30 Jul 21

Our morning tea was from Dobinsons delicious as always! 🍰🥧

Virginia Risby Virginia Risby 8:03 pm 29 Jul 21

Why have we never had a pie? Emma Risby

Joanna Stanion Joanna Stanion 6:21 pm 29 Jul 21

We miss Dobinsons in the city…

Isabel Plemenuk Isabel Plemenuk 2:38 pm 29 Jul 21

Zachary Pink RIP Bunda St Dobbo's!

Khaleda IF Khaleda IF 8:11 am 29 Jul 21

Love that place

Ariana Melanie Ryder Ariana Melanie Ryder 6:42 am 29 Jul 21

Address plz.

Vivianne Anthrak Vivianne Anthrak 2:24 am 29 Jul 21

You guys are amazing! Thank you for your wonderful pies, spinach triangles, bread and tantalising sweets 👌🍰😊

Tania Craig Tania Craig 9:48 pm 28 Jul 21

Loving Dobinson's Gungahlin!!

Anna Holt Anna Holt 8:14 pm 28 Jul 21

Love their cakes, pies, sausage rolls and spinach and feta triangles and the prices are so good😃

Margherita Gee Margherita Gee 8:00 pm 28 Jul 21

Amazing family and even more amazing sweets! Always my go to ♥️

Kim Maree Hocking Kim Maree Hocking 6:22 pm 28 Jul 21

Every night this bakery donates unsold food to Ngunnawal Street Pantries to feed those most in need. Cakes, pies & bread. Such generosity, kindness & thoughtfulness. Thank you Dobinson’s 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Robyn Zandbergen Robyn Zandbergen 5:33 pm 28 Jul 21

Jenny Constance, have you tried these ones??

PeteandViv Dobinson PeteandViv Dobinson 3:38 pm 28 Jul 21

Congratulations Suzy Dobinson Andrew Leggett Meaghan Dobinson 👏🍾🥂

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