If you were dreaming of the best location in Sydney to hold an indigenous market, then Bare Island at La Perouse would be the dream come true.
The monthly Blak Markets held at the old Bare Island Fort is an idea that's been a long time coming and well overdue. It brings together indigenous history and culture, colonial history in a magical seaside location.
Ms Pam and I arrive early to find the markets have a new starting time of 10.30 am. The impatient throng are thankfully allowed in early and I'm particularly thankful as I'd factored in a bush breakfast and I was feeling pretty peckish by now. We surge in, passing the imposing grey fortification walls and bastions of the fort and enter through an old medieval like gateway, except this one has 1885 inscribed on it.
Here are the market food stalls, most of which were serving up a bush tucker element to their dishes (apart from the poor out of place Mexican street food stall). The delightful Deadly Dumpling girls were deadly enthusiastic about their unique yummy warrigal green dumplings which are served in a bowl of chicken broth, Chinese leafy vegetable and noodles (six dumplings for $8.00).
The team at the Goanna Hut were selling a range of native spiced sauces, cordials and dukkahs as well as unique BBQ meat treats. We sampled the very tastywild boar and wild thyme with a lemon myrtle chilli sauce on a roll ($6.00) and purchased a roll of Kangaroo Pepperoni.
Fred's Bush Tucker was more sophisticated, serving his tucker on a paper plate. Tender crocodile, kangaroo and calamari are variously marinated and cooked on a BBQ served with generous salad with lemon myrtle dressing and a bread roll ($10.00).
The delicious warrigal green dumplings at Deadly Dumplings
We saunter through the fort's tunnels and gun emplacements where I can't help but get flash backs to assorted Arabic souks that I have visited. Darkened, cool covered laneways with stall holders poking out here and there. Here you'll find housed a variety of stalls with everything from taro reading to t-shirts, candles and indigenous designed hand made jewellery, artwork, bric-a-brac and even sweets.
We get treated to an excellent dance ceremony by the Yaama boys, a group a passionate school age boys. We then take a bush tucker and artefact talk by local man Brya whose impressive knowledge of edible and medicinal plants has been handed down from his ancestors. ($10.00).
The markets are only open on the first Sunday of every month with entry a $2.00 donation. While on the island, book in for a tour of the island conducted by National Park and Wildlife officers for only $15.00, only on Sundays starting at 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30 pm.
My advice is to get in early to avoid the parking problems, tuck in to some tucker and bring your swimmers!