Do you love to sift through op shops and look for something in particular, but end up leaving with a whole pile of random bargains that you never knew you needed? That's how it feels when you visit the Salamander Bay Recycling Centre, on Soldiers Point road. I have walked in there many times looking for a table, a puzzle for my daughter or a cookbook to browse, only to leave with a bag of clothes, a golf putter and a candle holder! But isn't that the fun of looking through op shops?
Salamander Bay Recycling Centre is a little different to the usual op shops - it is a not-for-profit centre which saves useable items from going to landfill, with 2000 tonnes saved each year from going into the dirt. Some of the items are broken, others have parts missing - however, you just need to check each item to make sure it works before you buy it. Allow plenty of time to have a look around this interesting venue - you'll need it!
The Salamander Bay Recycling Centre - a treasure trove to explore
When you drive in the entrance you will see larger items, such as window frames and kayaks, positioned along the edge of the car park and opposite the entrance. The shop itself is a large tin shed on the right-hand side, with car parking out the front so you don't have to carry your items of furniture or bargains too far.
When you walk into the shop, there is a coffee van positioned right at the entrance, to entice you to grab a takeaway coffee or slice to enjoy on your visit. Inside there is an area to the right called "Blank Canvas " which is a variety of funky and eclectic homewares, and the rest of the store is lined with high metal racks to browse through. The shed is divided into different areas with signs showing where to find hardware, lighting, books, games, homewares and more. Browse through the old vinyls for record players, check out the golf bags, pick up a fruit bowl and find a suitcase for your next trip. It is all there - and more!
Blank Canvas and the front counter, as soon as you walk in...
After exploring the main shed, take a walk through a side entrance and check out the furniture shed which has white goods, bar stools, baby change tables, TV units, couches and a range of large items for inside your home. This is the largest furniture area of any op shop I have been to in the Nelson Bay area, with good prices when you ask the shop assistants for the price. If you continue out the back door, you will also find bikes, toilets, outdoor furniture and literally the kitchen sink!
After leaving the main shed, take a walk across the road to the 360 Degree Clothing Boutique, where you can fill up a bag of clothes for just $2. The clothes are hung on racks and most are of good quality - just check the zippers and buttons before you put them in the bag, provided. If you are looking for second-hand school uniforms for local schools, this is the place to find them - with tops for Anna Bay, Shoal Bay and Tomaree Primary schools and Tomaree High on my last visit. (Also check out Vinnies in Nelson Bay, for another venue which sells school uniform tops and bottoms).
Many locals to the Salamander Bay/ Nelson Bay region travel to Newcastle or Raymond Terrace for a wider range of furniture items, than what is in town. Before you go however, take a trip to Salamander Bay Recycling Centre and see if there is anything there that you could upcycle and make it uniquely your own. With some sandpaper and paint from the local Bunnings, that old dusty table in the corner can look brand new with some attention and care. It also saves it from going to landfill and all money goes back into the community - bringing the feeling of goodwill full circle.