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The biggest and the best in the North West
Big Lizzie stands tall under the canopy in Barclay Square at Red Cliffs. This impressive tractor, reportedly the largest in the world back in its hey-day, is the centre of attention for everyone in Red Cliffs on all days of the month except one - that one day is known Country Market day and it is the day when Big Lizzie assumes second place in the race for the biggest tourist attraction in the town of Red Cliffs.
Held on the first Sunday of every month, the Red Cliffs Country Market has expanded well beyond Barclay Square, and now consumes most of the town centre. Visiting for the first time, I parked near Big Lizzie, and commenced my tour of these markets in the square - mainly because that is where I saw the gigantic coffee sign, and what better way to start a tour of some markets than with a coffee in hand.
Leaving the coffee stand, my tour took me past some more fast food vendors, whose product smelled very appealing, but was contrary to my early morning calorie intake. It was just past the huge water tower in the centre of the Square that the stall numbers started to explode, with many stall holders seeking spots around trees and / or pathways.
Towards the end of the Square, I noticed that the stallholders didn't appear to have an end in sight. As I finally made it to the end, the view up and down the road put a smile of my partner's face - there were stalls almost everywhere which consumed nearly all the shop balconies on Indi Avenue and Ilex Street.
My quick count of stalls totalled 140 spread over the town of Red Cliffs, and all within walking distance. Items for sale on the stalls varied from new to old, fresh to pickled, large to small, and every other combination in between.
Food stalls, of which there was enough choice to supply some of the larger smorgasbords in the big cities, included vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables, cakes, breads, donuts, popcorn, pancakes, biscuits, yiros, sausage sizzles, bacon and egg breakfasts, honey, nuts, sweets, wine, cider, olive oil, dukkah, kabana, mustards, figs, sauces and more.
Other stallholders had products for sale which included clothes, jumpsuits, bags, hats, scarves, candles, arts and crafts, bric a brac, jewellery, woodwork, sheep manure, mosaics, plants, flowers, tattoos, toys, soaps, books, cushions, cards, cosmetics and much more.
One of the more unusual crafts stall was a vendor selling recycled metal animals. These animals were constructed from used shovel heads, left over corrugated iron, bolts, gate posts, horse shoes and many other pieces of left over metal. The vendors ability to weld these pieces together and create a fascinating talking point animal was second to none.
The size of the markets meant that there needed to be two musicians at play at either end to ensure the music could be heard, while there were also several raffle stalls raising monies for local charities groups.
The Red Cliffs Country Market is open from 9am to 1pm on the first Sunday of every month in the town centre of Red Cliffs. For further details refer to their website or to their facebook page. These markets are one set of huge markets that should not be missed.