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Published December 20th 2013
Where to buy something Australian for overseas friends
Or there are people like myself, who live in Melbourne but who sometimes find themselves in a position of trying to find uniquely Australian gifts to send overseas. It could be for an overseas relative or because you are going travelling.
A lot of people suggested sending Australian wine although some said that the French would probably sneer at it. In any case it is quite heavy to take and a huge mess if it breaks.
Foodstuffs were a little easier. Macadamia nuts are apparently quite common here but can be an expensive delicacy overseas. Tim Tams are apparently something a little different over there along with the rather unique way some of us suck our cup of tea through the chocolatey layers. Haigh's Chocolates was another suggestion as were caramel koalas.
In the end I drove all over town for things I thought might be suitable: Australian label surf t-shirts for the teenagers, cute wombat designs on aprons and t-towels (The Eltham Market was good for this), jig-saw puzzles based on a map of Australia.
I won't say it was a pleasant experience because of all the running around. But I certainly didn't want the Made in China junk you can buy in places like the Vic Market or in Swanston Street. It didn't seem a very good advertisement for our country that everything is made overseas.
A week after I waved him off I was wandering in Victoria Street, North Melbourne and I discovered the very store I wish I had known about when I was doing all that running around.
It's called Something Aussie and it contains every imaginable piece of Australiana all under the one immense roof.
I'd searched for days for something with an Australian scent and had only ended up with a couple of bush fragrance soaps. But here were rows of hand creams, scents and skin care products all made from uniquely Australian ingredients.
There were lots of foodstuffs such as macadamia nuts. Anzac biscuits, Manuka honey, Australian wine-infused chocolates and even Aussie hampers.
There were piles of Akubra hats and art and crafts by indigenous Australians, jewellery and stunning photographic studies of the Australian landscape.
Apparently the business has been running since 1992, but I am sure I am not the only person who has not heard of it. Probably because mainly until you do have a need for Australiana it is not something you think about much.
Price wise there are objects for a couple of dollars, though to the expensive.
The store is beautifully laid out and highly colourful.
And yes, I did ask the question and the answer is: "80% of the goods are made in Australia."
Perhaps with Australia Day coming up it might be place worth visiting to get some ideas.
Locals will find this place easily as it is just up the road from the well-known Queen Victoria Market, but on the other side of Victoria Street.
For public transport you can take tram 55 or 57 along Elizabeth Street and alight at St Mary's church (stop no.10) There's also metered parking close by.