I had flown up to the Sunshine Coast for the Easter weekend to escape the rat race in Sydney only to find myself stuck in traffic in Eumundi, a small historic town in-land from the Sunshine Coast.
Bumper to bumper, we inched slowly into town and watched helplessly as parking spaces decline by the second. It seemed that the entire state population had gathered here as families, couples, locals and visitors milled onto the street in and out of the local markets.
It is the markets, with a definitive plural ‘s’, that has brought the crowds here. Starting from the top of the hill, the newly started Eumundi Pavilions market is a small yet cheerful addition to the market already established in Eumundi. Hippy outlets, alternative music, crystals and jewellery are just beyond the colourful footsteps on the driveway. However, it still has a bit to go yet before it can catch up to the bustling chaos across the road at the Original Eumundi Market.
Established in 1979, the ‘original’ market here claims to be the best art and craft market in Australia. I browse through clothing, jewellery, ceramics and furniture in between sampling home style jam, chutneys and home brewed ginger beer, all the meanwhile contemplating on a massage or a tarot reading. The market’s popularity is proven by the constant influx of crowds despite the drizzling rain, both young and the old were enjoying its vibrancy.
Just before I thought I had completed the market circuit, I noticed the stream of people heading off further down the road. Curious, I followed their footsteps and found yet another market. The Eumundi Square market is more organised, and has stores selling skin care products, organic produce, more clothing and home wares and a large corner dedicated to Fair Trade products from around the world.
Having explored the town a bit more, we found that the markets aren’t all that Eumundi had to offer. The Eumundi Heritage and Visitor Centre is a mini museum showcasing the lives of the fore bearers who settled in this town and worked in the timber industry. Along Memorial Drive many original colonial structures still stands which now house gourmet cafes, restaurants, boutique stores and massage salons.
The rain has stopped and the late afternoon sun coated a dark orange shadow through the buildings. I ordered a cold beer at the local pub listening to what must be the very few jug bands left in Australia as we watched the markets pack up for the day.
My experience had not been as relaxed as I expected, but it has opened my eyes to the real concept of ‘market day’. What Eumundi had offered me was a chance to see real produce made by real people, together with the friendliness and hospitality one would associate with small towns, as well as something different from the shores of the Sunshine Coast.
Eumundi markets are on Wednesday and Saturdays. The town will also host the Australian Body Art Carnivale in May.