I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
I always promised myself I would get back to another Toowoomba Swap Meet. I went to one in 2011 and it was great. I'm not into old cars or car parts, but there were lots of other interesting things there.
I love scavenging around second hand shops, garage sales, junk shops, antique shops and markets so I was really looking forward to my fist Swap Meet. We heard about them from an antique dealer in Northern NSW.
The dealer said there were two major swap meets in Australia each year, one in Toowoomba in Queensland in February and another large one in Bendigo, Victoria in November. There are also many smaller ones around the country.
This year the 45th Toowoomba Swap Meet is on the weekend of 4th and 5th February in the Toowoomba showgrounds. It operates from 6am to 6pm on Saturday and 6am to 12noon on Sunday. Unfortunately I won't be able to go because I'll be away, but I will definitely try and get to another one sometime.
The event is owned and managed by Darling Downs Veteran & Vintage Motor Club Inc. (DDVVMC). There are 1,800 sites with over 540 volunteers. Visit the website here.
There was some concern the year I went that it wouldn't be held because of the terrible floods in January 2011, but it did go ahead and was very successful.
Stalls were selling everything including car parts, cars, models, toys, antiques, bric-a-brac, jewellery, china, collectables and lots of old junk/treasures.
Many farmers from out west go through their sheds and bring in old car and machinery parts from their properties to trade and sell. On the drive up the range from Brisbane we saw many utes and trucks loaded with all sorts of bits and pieces of timber and metal.
I met Eddie from Grantham unpacking his treasures. He had a large number of old lanterns and bric a brac that he told me he had cleaned out of his sheds. The floods put Grantham on the map. I hadn't heard of Grantham before the floods even though I had lived in Queensland for 38 years. Prince William visited the town on Sunday 20 March 2011 to meet the survivors of the devastating floods and express his condolences for their losses.
Another stallholder had all his goods laid out on the ground. He had an interesting collection of old machinery, traps and tools. His wares, like many at the Meet were very blokey, but the seller told me many of his customers were women. He said they especially liked to buy the "Man Traps" which they took home, cleaned up, painted and put on display. He had all sizes of traps which I assumed were used to trap rabbits and dingoes. Some looked big enough to trap a man.
I think the main aim of swap meets is for swapping and trading car parts, but there is also a wide range of other interesting things. I saw a fuel tank from a World War 11 fighter plane. The seller told me a farmer found it in a paddock near Kempsey, NSW six years before. The metal from fuel tanks is used to make salt lake race cars because they don't rust, he said.
The buyers came prepared with an assortment of homemade trolleys to carry their treasures home. There were garbage bins on wheels and all sorts of other containers with wheels. I even saw a man riding around on a motorized esky.
There were a large number of tractor parts and car parts for sale including lots of tractor seats, ploughs, car chassis and bits of old machinery which looked like they had been rusting in paddocks for years.
I bought a blue castor oil bottle and a green glass buoy. I liked the buoy because it had my initials embossed in the glass, "Extra RG, Portugal". It was only $15, which I felt was a bargain. I've put it on a table in a room near a window so the sun can shine through the glass. It reminds me of a Gypsy's fortune telling crystal ball.
We left Brisbane very early, and by 11-30am I had only been around about a quarter of the stalls. I could have stayed all day, but had to leave by lunchtime. It would probably be a good idea to camp in Toowoomba or stay in guest accommodation for the weekend if you go. Going to a swap meet is a great experience, and I'm sure anyone could find something they like.