The picturesque grounds of Pambula’s historic Covington’s will provide the setting for the town’s latest tourist attraction, Flourish, a quarterly market designed to showcase locally handmade and grown goods.
The Pambula Business Chamber, in conjunction with the town’s Rotary Club, is reintroducing the markets, which are an echo of very popular farmers’ markets that were last held on the site more than 20 years ago.
“It’s a reintroduction, I guess,” says chamber spokesperson Karen Tarpey. “People are quite nostalgic about it. They are saying, ‘Oh goody, they are coming back.'”
The first market will be held on Saturday, 16 January, from 9 am to 12 pm.
Organisers are hoping it will draw people to Pambula village, particularly after Victoria’s border lockdown caused an exodus of visitors during the peak holiday period.
“It was a real shock, particularly for the second year in a row,” says Karen. “But we are trying to support all the locals as best we can. We hope we will be inundated.”
The philosophy behind Flourish is to promote locally handmade or grown goods, and to provide an opportunity for local makers, growers, craftspeople and artists to sell their produce and products to their community and visitors.
“Its aim is to embrace and share the creativity and vibrancy of our wonderful community and celebrate the magic of the seasons,” says Karen.
“It’s a local ‘make it, bake it, sew it, grow it’ market with all products and produce locally grown, produced or upcycled from within the Bega Valley region.”
There will be no food vans, with visitors encouraged to support local takeaways and restaurants, and picnic on the grounds.
“We are fully booked, but we will have buskers on the right-hand side when you come in and we’ve kept it clear so people can sit on the grassy side and take in the atmosphere,” says Karen. “The stalls will be on the left.
“We didn’t want to take any business [away] from any of the fabulous cafes, bakeries and eateries here in town.”
Flourish is a single-use-plastic-free market in collaboration with the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast’s ‘Plastic Free Pambula’ initiative.
“We will see how [the Flourish market] goes, I guess,” says Karen. “People are saying, ‘I remember that, it’s good to see it back,’ so I hope they support it.”
Covington’s has been a landmark in Pambula for more than 150 years. It began its life as the Forest Oak Inn and has also been used as a general store, post office, court room, police barracks, doctor’s surgery and residence, and in more recent years, a Thai restaurant.
The original owner, Syms Covington, was employed as Charles Darwin’s assistant on his HMS Beagle voyage, and he continued to correspond with him after moving to Pambula, even sending him samples of local plant and sea life for his studies.
The present structure was erected around 1856.