Over the past two years, my most favourite weekend activity is hunting for cool markets around town. After ravishing through the hot-list of all the crafty and foodie markets last year, I ventured out to the country and went to the Castlemaine Artists' Market.
Castlemaine is located in the historic Central Victoria, and it's one of the famous towns in this Goldfields region. History oozes out everywhere in this town. Old buildings remodelled into shops, houses, cafes are abound in this area. I was very pleased to note the really nice bookshop, trendy fashion boutiques and of course antiques galore. They say if you want to find vintage and antique stuff, go country and Castlemaine is like a gold mine for antiques lovers.
The beauty and allure of the place is undeniable. Big old trees and wide streets, dirt roads and derelict houses create an atmosphere of history and culture which I am sure if very seductive to the artists amongst us. There is a big community of artists who have settled in Castlemaine to nurture their creativities and maintain their own galleries and workshops. The market had stalls from artists around the region and also from Bendigo.
The market venue is the very old Theatre Royal. There were a range of interesting stuff that I haven't seen in other markets, for example the Tahitian pearl pendant that I found (and bought) is not something I found in any city markets. There were stalls of ceramics, pottery, clothing and dolls, jewellery and many other funky stuff. And I felt they were decent in pricing (i.e. cheaper) compared to other markets. You can browse for a long time, over and over again, and the only problem you will notice is limited cash in your pocket. Unfortunately there are not many ATM machines around and definitely not the common ones. I had to use a Bendigo Bank machine, but it was worth it.
I went for lunch and found some lovely little shops and then re-entered the market for one last browse and bought some more stuff. People are lovely and laid-back which is always nice when you are away in the country. All the artists had their little business cards, pamphlets which I collected with care and hope to find them somewhere again soon.
This market is definitely worth the one and half hour drive from Melbourne - and it is even better if you can have a weekend away, with visits to the nearby towns Maldon, Bendigo or Daylesford.