New Norfolk in Tasmania used to be only known for one thing - its asylum. As a result, the township developed a folklore giving it a sinister and gothic vibe.
But the asylum closed down in 2000, and things started to change. Tourists started to notice the township's beauty and its stunning 1800s architecture, the way the town centre is framed in blue by Mount Wellington, and the breathtaking rush of current from the River Derwent that winds its way through the valley.
A market busker shows what one man can do with a guitar, a harmonica, a foot drum and some serious toe-tapping.
Two decades later, and New Norfolk is every bit a magical day trip from Hobart, retaining its gothic vibe but with a more friendly and accessible feel for visitors. And each Saturday, the township comes alive with the New Norfolk market. If you're a vintage, retro or antique fiend, this is a simply must-see stop during your visit to Tassie.
Set up in the town's main drag, High Street, Saturday mornings have become a vibrant centre of community, art, music and treasure hunting. It's like the whole town comes out to play. And when it comes to music, the buskers at New Norfolk market are some of the best you'll find, from hillbilly harmonica players to Led Zeppelin-cover-playing rockers.
A local gentleman and his pony arrive to check out the wares.
Perusing the market stalls, you'll find an eclectic mixture of old and new stock. Expect to find gorgeous old crockery, groovy 60s clothes and discarded books, DVDs and home decor items. But thread your way through the stalls and you'll discover there's a bunch of new stuff for sale too from essential oils, Huon Pine clocks, fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly baked bread, home crafts, and delicious cakes, treats and sweets.
Legendary Tasmanian and Hollywood actor Errol Flynn takes pride of place at the New Norfolk market.
Once you'd finished nibbling your way through the local foods and rumbling through the market stalls, there's still so much to do and see. Most of the shops along High Street open their doors and set up a stall at their front windows. It's worth checking out Book Magick, Winny's World Curiosity Shop, the Cake Lady Cafe and many, many more. There's also plenty of bargain stores in New Norfolk such as The Reject Shop to flesh out your strange and unusual shopping experience.
Winny's World Curiosity Shop is a strange and wonderful universe of creepy and beautiful things.
This is where your inner vintage lover can run wild. In High Street and neighbouring roads, you'll find incredible antiques in shops like New Norfolk Antiques, the Drill Hall Emporium, 20th Century Artefacts, Monkey Morf Antiques and Such, and Rose & Sons Antiques.
Nothing says "I love you
Some of the items you'll find are stunningly crafted original 1800s furniture that may set you back thousands or exquisite Royal Prince Albert crockery kept immaculately for almost a century. You may also find very special items like prison doors from the Port Arthur penal colony. But some stores also stock more recent vintage and retro furnishings such as dolls, kooky mirrors, lampshades that will give you nightmares or clothes that will make you look like an extra on The Addams Family.
A range of dolls heads without bodies. This would make a great Christmas present for sure.
A screaming cat, a horseshoe and a statue of Jesus. What's not to love?
If any town in Australia could win the title for 19th-century gothica meets contemporary Tassie farming life, New Norfolk would be it. The old-fashioned beauty of the town, its dark asylum history and its new status as Australia's antique capital make it an alluring place for history nerds and shoppers who like to buy oddities with a difference. Visiting the market on a Saturday morning is a delectable introduction to this neo-gothic town.
Mark Twain pops up at Book Magick in New Norfolk's High Street.