For a town with a population of around 5000, Wonthaggi has an extraordinary number of places selling retro/vintage wares. Scattered about the town and housed in rustic-looking, industrial sheds, each one offers a journey of discovery through partitioned floor space packed to the rafters with the good, the bad and the aesthetically-challenged.
Op shops they are not. Second-hand doesn't necessarily mean bargain-price, but surprising finds are there for the unearthing by the sufficiently-determined. The appearance and density of vendor stalls vary with each shed, my personal favourite being one which seems to have every conceivable collectable crammed into its warren-like interior.
Whether something constitutes trash or treasure is most definitely down to the beholder's eye. Some collections are artistically displayed on attractive shelving or behind glass casing, whilst others invite the browser to rummage through them at their leisure. Give me casually-arranged goods any day, as I'm the kind of shopper who likes to lift, shift and sift through stuff in search of the elusively exclusive.
Here then is my list of must-delve Retro sheds in Wonthaggi. They're a great wet-weather destination - though you'll probably find fewer browsers on beautiful days when everyone's at the beach.
Walk through Wolf on Murray cafe, on Murray Street, and you'll reach Murray Street Bazaar, separated by a set of doors at the rear of the cafe. I can never resist the urge to tour the Bazaar whenever I'm lunching at the cafe: place your order and there's usually enough time to recce the Bazaar's aisles and bays of vendor stalls before your food arrives.
You'll find everything from tribal rugs to traffic signs, and antique Japanese cabinets to new, locally-made crafts. Visually, this shed holds huge appeal, as merchandise tends to be displayed attractively within clearly demarcated vendor space and the whole area begs to be browsed.
I love the layout of this Market, which is made up of two roomy sheds and Chill Bill, a compact cafe selling home-cooked food and Proud Mary coffee. There are more than sixty stalls within the Market's complex, selling vintage clothing, jewellery, homewares, ornaments and crafts. In one corner of the main shed, steps lead to a mezzanine level - my favourite part of the Market, as much dipping and delving is called for in order to appreciate all that's on offer in its busy space.
The front shed, with mezzanine level, at The Wonthaggi Market
Wander down the driveway at the side of the shed, past potted plants, garden ornaments and cafe dining sets and you'll find a second shed stocked with retro and up-cycled furniture. An entire corner is dedicated to the business of assisting the nostalgic Man Cave or garden shed owner with styling their domain in retro fashion....or fashioning their domain in retro style.
Perhaps fearing that its name was open to misinterpretation, the owners of Delicious Vintage Love have ensured that the qualifying words Retro Vintage Second-Hand Marketplace have equal billing on their shop front. This newcomer to Wonthaggi's pre-loved market scene, which was only launched last November, has a lot going for it. It may not be huge but it offers kitsch galore to explore.
Personally, I can't get excited by bar paraphernalia, old biscuit tins and thirty-year-old lamp bases, but I do have a weakness for '50s and '60s sets of kitsch-en food canisters and mixing bowls. Expect all this and more in the Marketplace, and to tour the floor two times or more to do the merchandise justice. On my first visit to the shed, I dug up an old map of Melbourne in pristine condition, tucked away in a batch of old pamphlets and magazines. If a break from browsing is needed then sustenance is at hand, courtesy of the Marketplace's Orange Box Cafe.
The vintage commercial metal signs and collection of vintage tools on offer give this shed a more masculine, industrial feel than its retro rivals in town. Unlike the other sheds, The Funky Pickers lacks a cafe - in my view, a missed opportunity to inject some warmth into its customers' shopping experience, thereby encouraging them to linger for longer. The Funky Pickers Shed stocks some unusual items, old and new, and had I deeper pockets there would be plenty tempting me to buy. From Shell signs to tram bells, and vinyl records to copper moulds, there's a diverse range of curios and collectables ripe for the hawk-eyed to unearth in this place.
If you fancy extending your vintage/retro/craft shopping experience, or money's too tight for market prices, then stop by at Wonthaggi's top op shops. Vinnies on Graham Street and the Salvos Thrift Shop on Inverloch Road, on the edge of town, have sizeable shop floors which cry out to be perambulated. I usually find something with my name written all over it.