According to Bree: the Strathalbyn Antiques Roadshow


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GUEST BLOGGER: Bree May from Food According to Bree

I have always had a thing for antiques.

Even as a girl, they were fascinating to me. Every time we visited our grandmother I would make a beeline to her bedroom to look at her antique crystal dressing table set, and an odd little pin cushion in the shape of five colourful little fabric dolls holding hands in a circle, that she strangely kept on her vanity.

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I now see the same excitement in my own children’s faces every time we visit my mother, as she too has a thing for interesting vintage finds and has all manner of weird and wonderful items liberally adorning her home.

I regularly scour op-shops and antique stores for interesting crockery and cutlery. I have an unholy obsession with vintage cookbooks and cannot stop adding them to my already populous collection. And, don’t even get me started on crystal decanters, teacups and antique posters.

So when I heard the Strathalbyn Annual Antique Fair was coming to town, I’d already pencilled it in to my diary before you could say, “Is that your best price?”

On the third weekend in August every year, this gorgeous little Adelaide Hills town comes alive with the sounds and sights of colourful dealers and thrifty pickers.

Halls filled to the brim with vintage finds, from telephones to teddy bears, records to Chinese checkers, bread knives and bed heads.

Some of the vintage knick-knacks on offer at Strathalbyn Antiques Roadshow.

Some of the vintage knick-knacks on offer at Strathalbyn Antiques Roadshow.

You want it, you will no doubt find it here, and at a special price because everyone is eager to do a deal. Although the elusive antique luggage rack I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to capture, still evades me… Where ARE you!?

I also saw my fair share (pardon the pun) of nightmares, inducing dolls that resemble props from a horror movie. I really have to wonder how vintage toy makers thought these demonic looking dolls were a good idea for little bonnie lasses to play house with.

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However, it was also finding what I didn’t expect to find, that actually made this fair so much more exciting to me and will ensure my yearly return.

The organisers have brought this classic event into the modern twenty-tens. They wanted to make it so much more than just a peddler’s paradise, and so much more, it was.

Yes, there were halls filled with visiting vendors offering their interesting wares, and the free looped shuttle bus to escort you between each vintage village to alleviate any problematic parking issues.

And, down every street and every laneway was another retro alcove full of treasures to behold and subsequently buy. Strathalbyn is a vintage lover’s paradise on any given weekend, not just this weekend, to be sure.

But, there was also a pop-up cellar door with food and wine tastings in an old downtown building.

Buskers and musicians filled the town air with their melodic songs the whole day through.

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The Strath town hall had been filled with installations from several of Adelaide’s most prominent interior decorators, offering ideas on how to style a room around your antique splurges, as well as bargains (depending on your powers of bartering persuasion).

The townspeople were all in on the act, too. At every stop and almost every second street there was a yard sale, some good, some bad, but you just never know what you’ll find…

And isn’t that the joy of antiquing?

Unearthing hidden treasures and bartering for the bounty.

Nevertheless, unfortunately even with back to back episodes of American Pickers and Storage Wars under my belt, I’m still a total novice with no real idea of what anything valuable should cost. Therefore, any high stakes transaction will be fraught with trepidation, and likely include a lavatory googling session to determine the correct price before I start the bidding war.

Although, when I found a gorgeous meat platter high on a dusty antique store shelf with an accompanying vintage bone carving set, bartering wasn’t necessary this time around because the Strathalbyn antique stores shrewdly offer discounts all fair weekend… Although I did still get them to knock another fiver off. When in Rome, right?

And, let’s not forget the food.

My first point of call was the football oval hall, and I was delighted to see there was a local food truck ‘Fair and Sweet’ awaiting my arrival.

I initially approached with only coffee in mind, but was immediately drawn to the generous looking pies sitting proudly in the warmer. As soon as the man in front enquired about their origins and the truck owner proudly declared they were homemade, I was sold.

“I’ll have a Peking Duck and Shitake Mushroom pie, thanks”.

Oh lordy, I inhaled that delicious pastry and promptly returned to the truck so I could buy another to take home with me for later.

The Fair and Sweet peking duck and shitake mushroom pie.

The Fair and Sweet peking duck and shitake mushroom pie.

And, there’s not just fabulous food trucks going on in this quaint little community.

Regardless of what your heart (and stomach) desires, you will be sure to find a feast to satiate your hunger.

Cafes, bakeries, pubs and restaurants. Whether you want to grab a quick bite between your wheeling and dealing, or a long leisurely lunch to celebrate your catch, Strathalbyn’s plethora of local eateries will certainly fit the bill.

The Strath Antique fair was all shades of awesome.

Amazing food, tick. Vintage finds, tick tick. Welcoming locals and a historic hills town, triple tick!

I vow to return, next year and beyond. And, I’ll also bring my husband and kids, did I mention there’s an Old Style Lolly shop in the Strathalbyn main street? Only about four doors down from the pub, which will keep the thirsty dads happy too while you’re getting design inspiration in the town hall… Yes, the whole team will have a ball at the Strath Antique Roadshow. It is truly, a family friendly af-fair (pardon that tragic pun too).

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