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 May 14th 2013
Trawl for treasure at these pretty rural hamlets
A wise old saying declares that 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' and this is definitely true in the wonderful world of op-shopping. Also known as charity stores and second-hand dealers, opportunity shops come in all shapes and sizes, from flashy vendors of vintage wares to more humble establishments where dusty treasures can often be discovered amongst piles of miscellaneous, unloved jumble. Personally, I prefer the latter variety, and trawling through them I can easily envision myself as an intrepid treasure hunter on a secret mission.
Here in Perth we're fortunate to have an wide selection of op shops to while away our time, from those in trendy suburbs such as Fremantle and Leederville that boast a dazzling variety of retro goodies, to other more out-of-the-way locales where groovy little bits and pieces can be picked up for next to nothing. However, these days there are avid treasure hunters everywhere in the city, and therefore it's getting harder and harder to find bargains amongst the trash. Therefore, in order to discover some genuine goodies, it's sometimes necessary to leave civilisation far behind and head way out, into the back of beyond.
With this in mind, I recently treated myself to a road-trip into the wilds of Western Australia's north-eastern Wheatbelt region, on a quest to find good, old-fashioned op-shops which haven't yet been ravaged by hoards of trendy, retro-loving city-slickers. The following paragraphs are some of the places which I discovered.
Despite its relatively close proximity to Perth, the Wheatbelt region is one of Western Australia's best-kept secrets. Even if you don't discover something special, you'll be charmed by the small country towns, the breathtaking scenery and the friendly local people. A treasure hunt on the Wheatbelt region will inevitably yield so much more than you expect.
Situated 132 kilometres north-east of Perth (almost two hour's drive), at the gateway to the northern Wheatbelt, Goomalling is a picturesque small town with lots of lovely old buildings. Knick Knacks Op Shop, located on Railway Terrace, is a treasure trove full of interesting bits and pieces including clothes, shoes, books, magazines and bric-a-brac. It's open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am - 2pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 12 noon.
Knick Knacks Op-shop at Goomalling
Inside Knick Knacks op-shop.
Shelves loaded with goodies!
Dowerin The Tin Dog Op Shop, at the corner of Stewart Street and the Goomalling-Merredin Road in Dowerin, is another hot spot to discover heaps of pre-loved goodies. While the front of the shop mainly houses home-wares and bric-a-brac, another larger room out the back is choc-a-block full of clothing, furniture and miscellaneous other stuff. Although Dowerin is quite a drive from the city (just over two hours, via Goomalling), it's well worth the effort. Dowerin is a classic Australian country town, and the locals are warm and friendly. If you need some refreshments after trawling through all the wares, the Tin Dog Cafe is situated next door to the op-shop.
The Tin Dog Op Shop is open only twice a week, so be sure to plan your Wheatbelt op-shopping adventure accordingly. On Fridays, opening hours are 10am - 4pm, while on Saturdays the shop is open until noon.
The Tin Dog Op-shop in Dowerin.
The back room of the Tin Dog Op-shop is full of goodies.
The Tin Dog Op-shop also sells a good range of retro furniture.
Mukinbudin A four hour drive from Perth, Mukinbudin is situated at the far north-eastern extremity of the Wheatbelt. Although I didn't notice any op-shops during my brief visit, I did spot a book exchange in a small cute little shop-front.
Mukinbudin Book Exchange
Although it was closed when we passed through town, the KTY Community Shop on Coronation Street in Trayning sells both new and used goods. Peeking through its windows, I could see some real goodies on display, including lots of lovely bric-a-brac and clothing items, so if you're in the area it could be worth-while popping in. As the shop is only open on Thursday and Saturday from 9.30am until 12 noon, be sure to plan your visit to town carefully. However, if these times aren't practical with you, a sign on the door provides details about who to contact out-of-hours.
Trayning Community Shop
Wyalkatchem For a small town, Wyalkatchem had quite an impressive selection of stores selling pre-loved wares. Unfortunately, as it was Sunday when I drove through, none were open, but judging from their window displays a visit would be advisable for all devoted op-shopping addicts. They're all situated along the town's historic main street, Railway Terrace, so are very easy to find.
Situated at 27 Railway Terrace, Central Secondhand stocks a wide range of good quality items ranging from furniture to bric-a-brac. It's open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am - 4pm, and Fridays from 1 -4pm. To find out more, call them on 08 9681 1541.
Central Secondhand, Wyalkatchem
Located in a large and lovely old building further down the street, the town's Community Mart is also a hot prospect for devout vintage lovers, with retro window displays that will leave them drooling. The shop is open twice a week: on Thursdays from 10.30am - 12.30pm and from 2.30pm - 4.30pm, and Fridays from 10.30am - 12.30pm and 1.30pm - 4.30pm. To find out more, give Pat Jones a call on 08 9681 1036.
Wyalkatchem's Community Mart
Although it's more of an antique shop than an op-shop, cashed-up treasure hunters may also enjoy popping in to Captain Jack's Emporium while they're in town. To find out more, including opening hours, call them on 08 9681 1526.
If you're feeling adventurous and have a few days to spare, a trip to WA's north-east Wheatbelt is an experience that I highly recommend. During spring, the area comes alive with brilliantly coloured wildflowers, while fields of golden wheat stretch as far as the eyes can see. It's also a haven for nature-lovers, and most towns have at least one nature reserve close by, often adorned with the dramatic rock formations that are so characteristic of the area.
For camping enthusiasts, it's possible to camp at many of these reserves, while those seeking more comfort can easily find a cosy bed in one of the area's old-fashioned country pubs.
Therefore, why not escape the rat-race for a few days and breathe some fresh country air? While vintage-lovers will be in bliss exploring the undiscovered treasures of these quaint little op-shops, there is so much more to see and do while you're touring this beautiful and little-explored area.