Fyshwick, once famed for its fireworks, brothels and porn, has undergone an image makeover in recent years. These days, the industrial Southside suburb is known more as a Mecca for foodies, fashionistas and lovers of vintage and quality second hand. Canty's Bookshop has been a stalwart through Fyshwick's evolution and remains a must visit for book lovers hunting for their next read.
When you open the door, you're immediately met by a tower of books stacked precariously near the front of the store. They lurch upward and threaten to become some kind of literary Vesuvius, exploding and spilling a torrent of words and letters if you happen to get too close. Squeeze past and the real adventure begins.
Canty's Bookshop, like many second-hand bookstores, has a tardis-like quality about it. Room after hidden room of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves creates a space that comes close to being the real life embodiment of any decent bibliophile's fever dream. The space totals 1.2km of shelves and the book count stands in the tens of thousands. The range here is so vast you could get lost for hours trawling the shelves and, if you have the time, that would be a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. If you don't have the time, don't worry. The staff, clearly book lovers themselves, have patience and a miraculous ability to locate whatever it is you're looking for as if there's an invisible box of index cards just within reach.
If you're launching your own book-themed treasure hunt, you'll find the shelves are labelled by category. Some areas are in perfect alphabetical order, in others, the rules of order apply more loosely. There are some surprise appearances in most categories too - a fictional detective has snuck over to hang out in the travel section or a cookbook has zipped across the shelves to snuggle with some modern art. This is all part of the fun and, as most second-hand shoppers know, the thrill of never quite knowing what might turn up is what draws you back.
The kid's section at Canty's Bookshop deserves a special mention - not only is the selection vast and well priced, but the egg swivel chair allows the mini-bookworms to settle in and decide on just the right story to take home.
Canty's Bookshop is located on Wollongong Street in Fyshwick and is open 7 days. To keep up to date with the latest news, you can find them on Facebook here.