The Famous Nungarin Wheatbelt Markets
It is a leisurely Sunday morning in the picturesque central wheatbelt.
The kids inform me that they are bored of our usual weekend activities, so after numerous requests we all bundle into the car en route to the famous Nungarin Wheatbelt Markets.
When we arrive we find that parking at the markets is as easy as simply pulling off the Merredin-Wyalkatchem Road, which conveniently runs parallel to the town’s main street.
Today Nungarin’s main street has been blocked off and transformed into a free street market, with the town’s hall also filled with a variety of stalls and a café. Nungarin is located only 40 kilometres from Merredin or 270 kilometres from Perth.
As I wander down the main street I find that people are happy to give me a smile as I pass. The atmosphere is friendly, unpretentious and relaxed, which is perfect for a Sunday morning. I notice that people of all ages and from all walks of life happily intermingle, and children run up and down the main street while their parents chat with old friends.
Unfortunately our kids are not yet running up and down the main street, informing me that they are hungry again already. So the first stop of the day for us is the sausage sizzle outside the Nungarin Craft Shop. Here we pick up a hot dog with onion and sauce for just $3.50 or a bacon and egg burger for just $6, with all profits going to the local community organisation running the sausage sizzle.
Once the kids are fed they are keen to bounce off some energy, so we head down to the free bouncy castle set up next to the park and children’s playground on the main street. I am informed that the bouncy castle is provided free of charge at the May, July, October and December markets, and that Father and Mother Christmas also always fit the December markets into their tight festive schedule.
While the kids enjoy the bouncy castle I stroll down the main street, taking in the colour and life of the market. I peacefully wander the entire length of the main street to browse the goods on offer, and I am delighted to find that the Nungarin Wheatbelt Markets are not the claustrophobic jostling experience that some markets can be. My husband is also pleased to be able to duck off into Wegner’s Rural (the town’s newsagency, café, hardware and convenience store) to get himself a newspaper and a drink.
Meanwhile I discover stalls selling goods that range from local honey, wheatbelt grown vegetables, fruit and cut flowers (including some beautiful native proteas), wheatbelt olive oil, native plants, locally grown Alpaca wool and cushions, bric-a-brac, jewellery, Australian made chocolate and candy and home- made jams, pickles and cakes. I am also informed that there are stall holders at the markets who have travelled from as far as Forrestfield 270 kilometres away in Perth and Beverley 210 kilometres to the south.
I make my way up to the town hall where I find more stalls for goods as diverse as hand-made beanies, DVDs, second hand books, wooden toys and plants. It is a cold morning so I hop up the stairs to the Jacaranda Café run by the Nungarin Community Development Group. Here I indulge in a generous serving of their famously light scones with jam and cream for just $4 and a cup of tea for just $2. I feel like royalty sitting up on the hall stage at a comfortable table quietly eating my scones.
I chat to a local stall holder on my way out of the hall who tells me that the markets are held on the morning of the first Sunday of each month from March to December. They have been running for 20 years and were created by a team of dedicated and resourceful local volunteers. I am informed that stall holders pay only $10 for a stall and receive a free trestle table as well as a free cup of tea or coffee that is delivered by the Nungarin Wheatbelt Markets via an old fashioned tea trolley.
I eventually catch up with the rest of my horde back on the main street. My husband has discovered some wonderful freshly made doughnuts at a stall run by two women who donate all profits to local community organisations. As a result he insists that his purchase of a box of 6 doughnuts for $5 was actually a generous community donation. Luckily our kids make sure he doesn’t actually get to eat too many of them.
We then meander back down to the Nungarin Op Shop and Craft Shop at the other end of the main street, making sure that we haven’t missed any interesting treasures at the stalls on our way back.
The kids are very impressed that the Op Shop has a box of free items on a table outside the store that they can look through, as well as a variety of toys for sale. I find plenty of other interesting second hand items on its shelves, and there are of course clothes and second hand books available.
Once we have explored the Op Shop the kids notice the free children’s train pulling in at Wegner’s Rural next door before it commences its next loop up and down the main street. They can’t resist the experience and are off up the main street before I’ve even managed to say the word okay.
Meanwhile I check out the Craft Shop next door to the Op Shop, where I am delightfully immersed in hand-made cards, beanies, scarves, rugs, cards, gifts, jewellery, wooden toys, jams and relishes as well as second hand books. My husband is also pleased to be able to get himself a fresh cup of coffee there for only $2.00.
The Craft Shop also offers some excellent quirky gifts, some of which are shown in the photos below.
Later I am amused to find my kids completely spellbound when we come across the Toffee Woods Alpaca Stud stall that sells live Alpacas, having never previously got anywhere close to these rather imposing yet gentle creatures before.
We decide that next time we will leave home earlier so that we can also explore the Nungarin Heritage Machinery and Army Museum that is located a few streets behind the main street. My husband is also keen to stay for a large counter lunch at the beautiful heritage two storey Nungarin Woolshed Hotel.
By the time we are ready to head home it has warmed up nicely, so for us the last stop of the day is the soft serve ice cream van, where I spoil the kids with a vanilla soft serve cone each for only $2.50.
Refreshed by a fun morning out at a friendly, laid back and down to earth wheatbelt market, we then drive home discussing what each of us will see and do next time.
By Annemaree Jensen who writes at www.extramilewriting.com.au. Huge thanks go to all the Nungarin locals who assisted me in a variety of ways with this story.
If you would like more information on the Nungarin Wheatbelt Markets call or fax 9046 5174 email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Wheabelt Way website Events page for upcoming Nungarin Wheatbelt Market dates.