If you thought the Dirty Jane’s empire of an antiques warehouse wasn’t already great enough (*post coming soon*), you need to take some time to wander through the nursery and garden centre found on the same property just off Banyette Street in Bowral. The Potting Shed is the perfect outdoor segue between the front and rear buildings of Dirty Jane’s, transforming an otherwise unappealing industrial space into a sanctuary of thriving succulents, potted plants on wooden ladders and general ‘gardenalia’.
Nestled among the terracotta pots is also a beautiful selection of handcrafted wooden furniture from local designer Joe Vinks who specialises in the use of fallen timber. Green thumb or not, it is well worth a peek. I am sure Maureen, the delightful identity behind The Potting Shed, would love you to visit.
Where: Dirty Janes Antiques, 391 Bong Bong Street, Bowral
When: Open 7 days 10am – 5pm
For anyone who, like me, has a tendency to buy gifts last minute and has a track record of awkward moments watching someone unwrap something you’ve just realised they’ll actually hate – we need a shop like this. One of the true gems of Moss Vale, Made By Others is a quirky art and design store selling clothing, jewellery, accessories and cute housie things from both national and international artists. My guess is that if you buy someone (disclaimer: mainly talking females here) a gift from Made By Others, you will be hard-pressed to leave with something they won’t appreciate!
The fabrics are quality, the necklaces are bobblesome, triangle patterns are plentiful and bright colours are the new black! If you have time, make sure you stay for a coffee – locally roasted Rush beans – and a sweet snack at the communal wooden table.
Go for Lisa B wooly socks, a homemade marshmallow and anything made by Nancy Bird.
Where: Shop 2, 366 Argyle Street, Moss Vale
When: Monday to Friday 9:30 – 5pm, Saturday 9:30 – 4pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm
It’s reassuring to discover smalltown charms that have not yet been lost as time passes by and the little guy gets weaker. The Exeter General Store is a strapping example. Housing a general store, a café, a community notice board and the local post office, this place is really the hub of the town and is a great reason to visit Exeter (population approx. 400). Plus the drive out here is seriously beautiful!
A small selection of local produce is available, including Robbo potatoes and garlic, as well as papers, magazines, cute cards and various other stylish pantry essentials. The café provides a tasty selection of fat sandwiches, chunky pies and quiches, cakes, scones and tea and coffee. Gluten free options are available. Go for peach tea, a savoury pie or a serving of scones and marvel at the floor to ceiling shelves lined with books to peruse at your leisure.
When: Monday-Friday 7:30am-4:30pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-4:30pm
Where: 1 Exeter Rd, Exeter
There is no shortage of bakeries in the Highlands so let me narrow down your quest for baked goods and direct you straight towards Flour, Water, Salt in Bowral. With outlets also in Milton and Berry, this pokey little bubble of orange on the main drag of town is bursting with energy. It’s worth checking out even just to boost your feel-good levels if you are a bit dusty first thing in the morning, though I highly doubt you’ll leave empty-handed.
As the name of the business suggests, this bakery keeps things simple. They do a few things and they do these things well. A handful of sweet treats, sandwiches and bread loaves, and a small collection of bubbly drinks and bottled preserves to take home. Oh, and they do coffee, of course. It’s all delicious, and the staff are all so sweet you just want to take them home in your pocket. Go for Dutch speculaas, fig and walnut loaf or an egg and prosciutto tart.
When: Tuesday – Friday 8:00am-5:00pm, Saturday 8:00am-4:00pm.
Where: 374 Bong Bong St, Bowral
It’s a stretch for this blog’s borders, but someplacesouth is going coastal. The blowhole is cool and everything, but if you are planning on making the trip to Kiama, PLEASE come foremost for these local produce markets. A recent addition to the community’s weekly happenings, the Kiama Farmers’ Markets are held on Wednesday afternoons to provide a mid-week outlet for South Coast and Southern Highland farmers to sell their goods. As soon as the bell rings at exactly 3’o clock, the stretch of stalls along the water at Black Beach is suddenly inundated with hungry buyers armed with hessian bags eagerly seeking this week’s prey. Rabbit pie, organic kale, crisp red apples, German sausages, raw chocolate cashew brownies, gluten free mango muesli crunch, local mead, freshly picked chestnuts – make sure you arrive hungry!
These markets are all about that which is edible so there is no need to weave past all the woven nick-nacks and scented decorative things to get to the good stuff. Kiama Farmers’ Markets proudly showcase local food rather than re-selling produce bought wholesale elsewhere, making the delicious, diverse and abundant spread of goods that much more significant. Though logistically difficult for the 9-5 worker, a chance to pop by this mid-week treasure is well worth any negotiating with the boss for the afternoon off. Possibly the best view you will find while gathering your groceries, and some of the friendliest shopkeepers as well. Go for organic veggies from Farm to Feast, granola from Ravenous and fruit salad plant from the Italian guy. And heck, have a wander up to the blowhole on your way out just for kicks.
When: Every Wednesday 2pm-5pm in winter, 3pm-6pm in summer.
Where: Black Beach, Kiama.
What Exeter lacks in size it makes up for in the quality of its local market. Though small and often muddy, the markets are a real weekend treat. I am probably preaching to the converted here – but I really cannot emphasise enough how valuable it is to buy directly from farmers and producers at an event like this. You are intelligent folk, you know the deal, you can figure out why. And if this is completely unchartered territory for you, well, just do it anyway. Here you will find delicious food because it is in season and it is fresh, and you will be able to interact and exchange directly with the real living breathing humans who have gathered and produced these things for you to enjoy. See the dots connecting?
There are a couple of produce stalls selling whatever fruit and vegetables they have growing – ranging from foraged pine and slippery jack mushrooms, to giant zucchinis, to ripe red rhubarb, to devastatingly sweet berries – anything and everything that is in season at the time. You can also pick up soy candles, Argentinian knitwear, potted herbs and succulents, young citrus trees and unusual varieties of pretty plants. Inside the hall is a cosy little café for a cup of tea and cake if you get a bit chilly, as well as a bakery stand, a book shop, a wall of vintage buttons and lace and a delightful fellow in a red cap selling delicious curds and chutneys from a suitcase. Arrive early, arm yourself with a take away coffee from the Exeter General Store across the way and treat any growling stomachs with a home baked melting moment, almond crescent or Portuguese tart from one of the market stalls.
When: First Saturday of the month
Where: Exeter Village Hall, 12-20 Exeter Road, Exeter
If hospital food is always bad, this café is the Highland’s exception to the rule. Well – it’s not actually food from the hospital sold here, but you get where I’m going with this. Come nine o’clock, babies, bumpkins and business suits all gather together in hot pursuit of their morning fix from The Hospital Shop.
I will turn a blind eye to the occasional slightly burnt coffee considering how cute the stripy canvas chairs and astro-turf look out the front. Plus the waitress’ tea towel made me laugh (‘To brie or not to brie, that is not a question..’). There is an eclectic mix of stuff and clutter here yet somehow it all works and you feel very much at home. Come to think of it, in a way you are at someone’s home as the café space itself is the front section of a residence. The staff are young and chatty and know the local coffee orders by heart. The music is fun and loud and the chairs don’t match and they’re wobbly. But this is all part of the charm that keeps everyone coming back for more.
Plenty of options to be had here – gluten free, dairy free, sweet, savoury, pro-organic or on a quest for fair-trading. Everyone is welcome. This café serves as somewhat of a corner store, selling magazines, milk and maltesers as well as the standard café fare. Go for pumpkin loaf, take-home mulberry jam, or any tarts made with local homegrown fruits.
When: From 8am seven days
Where: 4 Mona Rd, Bowral
Let’s just all admit it together here – sugar and spice and all things nice are sometimes exactly what you feel like. In which case, afternoon tea at Your Vintage Occasion in Bowral would be a good idea. Cosy, petite and unashamedly girly, this little café is best known for its tea served in delicate china cups and shiny silver pots. Even the coffee blend is pretty (Botanica).
To munch on, the menu lists an array of sugar-coated bite-sized treats as well as warming soups, pinwheel sandwiches and toasted damper with housemade preserves. Considering you have to wander through possibly the world’s cutest nursery and an antiques warehouse to get here, it seems only fitting to make an occasion out of it and leave yourself an hour or two to spend at this end of town. Pick a cold and rainy afternoon to escape inside this little nook and go for the lavender scones with lemon curd and cream to accompany your tea.
When: 10am-4pm Wednesday to Sunday
Where: Inside Dirty Janes Emporium, 391-397 Bong Bong St, Bowral.