30 April 2024

Relocating craft and homemade markets brings flourishing outcome

| John Thistleton
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Martin Creagan makes stock whips, bridles, reins, knife and watch pouches, dog collars and leads, hobbles, belts and braided rope reins.

Martin Creagan makes stockwhips, bridles, reins, knife and watch pouches, dog collars and leads, hobbles, belts and braided rope reins. Many hours of intricate work can be found in his belts. He weaves girth straps and breastplates from alpaca wool. Photo: John Thistleton.

Moving community markets to a scout hall in Goulburn was like shifting an ailing plant to a sunnier spot in the garden and watching it flourish.

Up until about eight years ago a hardy group of stallholders hired the rustic grounds outside the Old Goulburn Brewery. In fine weather this was ideal, but in the rain and wind, stallholders had stopped turning up, so two regulars, Gitta Rebhandl and Lorraine Phelps looked for a new venue and found a scout hall was available.

They have since been joined by enough artists, stitchers, jewellery makers, cake and slice makers and collectors to fill the George Simes Memorial Scout Hall in Bourke Street, and outside grounds as well. On offer are leather goods, cards, antiques, diamond paintings, macrame, coins, folk art, gift packs, homegrown produce and ironing board covers.

The hobbyists, gardeners and cooks set up on the fourth Saturday of each month except January. In December the markets are in the third week.

Away from the vagaries of the weather, Daphne Watterson, who will turn 86 on Christmas Eve, plays country music on her electric piano, accompanied by the hum of chatter and commerce at the market.

READ ALSO Getting Goulburn people together over fresh produce

Born in Austria, Gitta came to Sydney with her mother and two brothers in 1955. She arrived in Goulburn in 1970. It’s been 22 years since her husband John passed away. Her craft work has sustained her interests ever since and she believes it’s good for everyone’s wellbeing.

“It’s important to keep the market going, especially these days when people are consumed by bad things,” she says. Buying and selling craft puts people in a positive frame of mind. Look around, is anybody cranky here?” she asks rhetorically.

“We are all enthusiastic about the market and enjoy what we do,” she said. “We look after one another.”

Gitta takes photos of landmark buildings, sunsets and landscapes and turns them into greeting cards. “I do folk art as well, and as you can see, I love the Australian outback,” she says. She crochets babies clothes and puts together little gift packs.

Deb Lowe

Deb Lowe began her macrame venture after her daughter sent her a photograph of a pot plant holder and asked, “Mum, can you make me one of these?” The former sterilising technician at the Goulburn Base Hospital is now turning out prize-winning hat and pot holders, having won first place ribbons for her work at the Goulburn Show. Photo: John Thistleton.

Lorraine sold out of her Weet-Bix slice and health loaf in the first hour of the market on Saturday, 27 April. She often sells out of her home-baked goodies. Her bottles of tomato relish, tomato sauce, zucchini pickles and jams come from her garden at Parkesbourne. Neighbours and friends give her figs and feijoa for her jam. Her 95-year-old relative Rod Hunt, who lives up the road, rang her in February to pick his blood plums for jam.

Goulburn artist Helen Strano remembers selling her grandfather Luigi’s roses at Paddy’s Market in Sydney when she was six years old. She came to Goulburn more recently as a social worker, and still sees herself as the original marketeer, selling her paintings, potted plants and novelties.

Helen Strano with one of her smaller paintings, and novelties on offer at the Markets on Bourke. Helen also sells her paintings at Goulburn cafes.

Helen Strano with one of her smaller paintings, and novelties on offer at the Markets on Bourke. Helen also sells her paintings at Goulburn cafes. Photo: John Thistleton.

Martin Creagan comes to the market from Crookwell to sell his handmade leather goods. A former jockey, Martin learned his craft repairing equipment he could not afford to replace. “I don’t buy and resell stock. I do it in a style you will not find anywhere in a shop; it all comes from up here,” he said, pointing to his head.

Martin imports alpaca wool from America to make girths and breastplates. He says rodeo riders like to buy their girth straps from him.

All his work is made to measure and he offers personalised designs. He teaches his craft at regular workshops in Crookwell.

As the morning of the market wears on, stallholders leave their tables and join in clusters catching up with friends. Some meet regularly for lunch on a Friday and continue enjoying one another’s company as much as they do their craft.

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