I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published September 23rd 2015
Shop Till You Drop At Our City's Most Creative Retailers
Not so long ago local handcrafts were difficult to find here in Newcastle. Traditional crafts such as knitting, crochet and woodwork seemed close to extinction, deemed old-fashioned and irrelevant in our busy, technologically-sophisticated lives. However, over the last decade or so these traditional art-forms have undergone a remarkable renaissance, with young artists and designers rediscovering their beauty and utilising the techniques in their own work, in new and exciting ways.
Image courtesy of Jennifer Rensel / Wikimedia Commons
To cater to the current demand for quality handmade goods, over recent years several designer markets and pop-up stores have sprung up throughout Newcastle. Not only is this great for shoppers, but it's also extremely encouraging for emerging artisans who are always on the look-out for new sales outlets as they strive to establish themselves in their careers.
Image courtesy of Blanka Luppova / Wikimedia Commons
The following paragraphs list some of the best spots in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley to purchase beautiful handmade wares. By no means is this a complete list. The places listed are just those that I'm aware of. If you know of anywhere else that hasn't been mentioned here, please share the information with our readers in the comment box provided.
Newcastle Mall As we've all noticed, of recent years, downtown Newcastle is undergoing a remarkable renaissance. Although once-lively Hunter Street Mall has been rather sad and sorry over the last decade or so, it's now reawakening – largely due to the efforts of Renew Newcastle, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to finding practical and uplifting uses for some of the city's numerous beautiful-but-empty buildings. In particular, they strive to arrange short-term leases for artists, cultural projects and community groups, resulting in the transformation of the city's heart into something of an artist's hub.
Probably the best-known of all Renew Newcastle's many projects is the Emporium, at 185 Hunter Street (in the Mall) – which was, in a former life, a regional branch of David Jones. These days it's a thriving arcade of boutique artisans, while other historic, albeit unused, buildings throughout the city have also morphed into studios, galleries, boutiques and various other artistic enterprises – transforming Newcastle into one of New South Wales' most dynamic creative locales, and therefore a great shopping destination for people like you and I.
To learn more about Renew Newcastle, and for information about the artists and designers who have benefited from the project, take a peek at the Renew Newcastle website.
Art Bazaar An initiative of the Hunter Arts Network (HAN), Art Bazaar has often been cited as the Hunter Region's premier art and design market, since its inception in 2002. Over the years the markets have taken place at various locations around the Hunter, but one common feature that they all invariably possess is the high quality of items that are presented by the participating artisans. Each stallholder is a member of HAN, and the original finely-crafted works that they sell are all handmade here in the Hunter Valley. In addition to the stalls, the markets often feature craft demonstrations as well, along with refreshments and live entertainment.
Art Bazaars are held in three locations in the Hunter – Newcastle, Morpeth (near Maitland) and Lake Macquarie. They're held three times a year at each location. To find out more, including upcoming dates and current locations, visit the Hunter Arts Network's Art Bazaar website .
Hunt and Gather Boutique Design Market
Taking place on the third Saturday of each month at beautiful breezy Pacific Park in Newcastle East, the Hunt and Gather Boutique Design Markets are a great spot to check out after an early-morning dip in the Ocean Baths or a stroll along the Bathers Way. As their website comments, the market brings together all the things Novacastrians love about the city, while creating a vibrant forum for artisans to promote their creations, and locals to connect with each other and soak up the good vibes of this beautiful part of Newcastle. Established in 2013, the market showcases the work of many creative folk, such as artists, musicians, designers, food-lovers and performers – from the local area and further afield.
Image courtesy of the Hunt and Gather Market website
Broadmeadow Sundays Market
Another fabulous boutique market is Broadmeadow Sundays, which aims to highlight the talents of local artists and crafters, as well as provide the wider community with a positive alternative to the large shopping malls and chain stores that are now everywhere. Taking place monthly from 9am until 2pm, they're the perfect spot to purchase a special gift for a loved-one, or simply to find something pretty to pamper yourself.
Broadmeadow Sundays Markets take place at the Police Citizen's Youth Club (PCYC) at the corner of Young and Melbourne Roads in Broadmeadow. To find out more, including information about the stall-holders and when the next market will be held, take a look at the Broadmeadow Sundays Facebook page.
Carrington Village Markets
Another recent addition to Newcastle's vibrant market scene is the delightful Carrington Village Markets which takes place quarterly in the grounds of Carrington Public School, from 9am until 2pm. In addition to supporting local artisans, this wonderful community-based market also earns money for the school's various projects.
Image courtesy of the Carrington Village Markets website
Although the markets only began this year, they now regularly boast over 60 stalls, selling a fabulous assortment of beautiful handmade wares such as clothing, jewellery, bags, baby-wear, crochet wares, vintage delights, stationary and natural cosmetics. In addition, there are plants, books, refreshments and much, much more. There are even live performances by local buskers. Children are not forgotten, either, and with attractions such as face-painting, fairy floss and a very cool jumping castle, your youngsters will be begging for you to take them.
To learn more about Carrington Village Markets, call 0414360292 or email carringtonpandc@gmailcom. Further information is also available on their Facebook page.
Olive Tree Markets
An integral part of Newcastle's creative renaissance, the Olive Tree Markets have the reputation of being one of the city's hidden gems. A boutique market purveying a wide range of gorgeous handmade goodies, crafted by some of the Hunter region's most well-respected artisans, they're one of the best shopping destinations in the city if you're looking for something truly exceptional – whether for yourself, your home or as a present for someone special.
Image courtesy of Si Griffiths / Wikimedia Commons
Featuring over 130 stalls, the markets are a popular meeting place for both locals and visitors to Newcastle, and provide the rare opportunity of purchasing high-quality handmade items directly from the person who made them. Stalls include home wares, fashion, photography, paintings, illustrations, clothing, up-cycled art, toys and much more. There is also live entertainment throughout the day, and plenty of refreshment options, making the markets a pleasant spot to relax with friends, once the shopping has been done.
The Olive Tree Markets take place monthly, from 9am until 2pm, under the large shady trees of Civic Park. Other creative initiatives from the Olive Tree Market's think tank include the Olive Tree Markets' sister market in Maitland (at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery), the Red Lantern Night Markets and the Olive Tree Christmas markets (held during November and December). To find out more, including the dates and locations for upcoming markets, check out the Olive Tree Markets website.
Hamilton Clock Tower Markets
Beaufort Street in Hamilton has always had an active arts scene, and the Hamilton Clock Tower Markets provides another forum for local creatives to ply their wares to a public eager for beautiful locally-made items. Taking place every Saturday, this cosmopolitan street market sells not only handmade, but also commercially-produced goods from around the world. Although it's not as large as some of Newcastle's other markets, it's definitely well worth checking out, whether you're an artist looking for a platform to promote your creations, or a shopper seeking something special.
Image courtesy of the Hamilton Clock Tower Markets website
3 Peas Market – Teralba
Another colourful and creative local market, the 3 Peas Market at Teralba, on the western side of Lake Macquarie, is also well worth checking out for the gorgeous handmade goodies and healthy local produce that it purveys. Taking place on the second Sunday of each month, from 9am to 2pm, the markets are great place to meet your friends for breakfast and to engage in some serious retail therapy. Each market also features live entertainment by talented local performers.
Image courtesy of Moe / Wikimedia Commons
3 Peas Market takes place in the grounds of Teralba Public School at York Street in Teralba. If you're coming by car, there's plenty of parking, while if you're relying on public transport the markets are just a couple of minutes from Teralba railway station. To find out more, take a look at the 3 Peas Market Facebook page.
Local Art Galleries
It may seem like common sense but many people don't realise that our major local art galleries don't only exhibit, but also sell, beautiful handmade wares by some of the region's leading artisans. Each of these galleries has a gift-shop purveying exquisite items ranging from cards, books and stationary to jewellery, textiles, glassware, bags, ceramics, contemporary craft and much more.
Image courtesy of the Newcastle Art Gallery website
Newcastle Art Gallery is situated at 1 Laman Street in Newcastle and is open from 10am to 5pm, from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday); Maitland Regional Art Gallery is situated at 230 High Street in Maitland (shop opening hours are 10am to 4.45pm, Tuesday to Sunday) and Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery is situated on First Street in Booragul, right next to Lake Macquarie High School (open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm).