There are many things to look forward to now restrictions are easing. Among them, visiting our fabulous regional markets. Start blocking out your weekends now in preparation.
Binalong Community Markets
I don’t know if it’s the infectious grin on Sarah Pineda’s face or the delectable treats she has on display, but her Cocoabunbuns & Co stall is the first I gravitate to at this compact market in the picture-perfect village of Binalong in the NSW Southern Tablelands.
Sarah has turned her love of baking into a semi-professional affair, alternating her job as a cardiac sonographer with spending her entire Friday or Saturday cooking, before selling the bounty at the weekend markets.
Sarah has drawn on her mum Selina’s Nyonya heritage to imbue her sweets with a lovely Asian influence; durian cupcakes and delicious homemade pineapple jam biscuits flavoured with cloves, star anise and cinnamon sit alongside brown butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, cake pops in myriad flavours, delicate sponge cakes with pink dulce de leche or mocha curd. We leave wishing we’d brought bigger shopping bags…
A couple of stalls down is a selection of equally appealing baked goods, but with a thoroughly old-fashioned vibe. Cliff and Lorraine Murphy are market stalwarts, doing a solid trade in homemade pies, preserves and relishes for nearly 20 years.
The pies – apple, blueberry and rhubarb – look an absolute treat. And their making is a joint effort.
“I do all the cooking and Cliff does the prep,” says Lorraine. “We use a potato masher to get the consistency of the apples right. That’s his job… the mashing.”
Cliff knows his place.
“We don’t talk in the kitchen, I get into trouble if we talk,” he responds with a cheeky smile at his wife, adding: “She’s the only thing on the stall not for sale.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more appealing location for an outdoor market than Binalong. Famous for its bushranger past, the town feels like a time capsule of the late 1800s. Stalls are set up in an expansive park next to the local cafe and a labyrinthine second-hand store; you’ll find everything from pumpkins and plants to herbal teas, vegies and a lovely range from David and Jacqueline Miller, who sell their Idyllic Hills Wines at multiple markets across the region.
Binalong Community Markets reopens on Sunday, 14 November. It is held every second Sunday of the month at 13 Queen Street, Binalong.
Murrumbateman Village Market
Alpacas are not just a pretty face. These cartoonish characters, all eyelashes, bee-stung lips and bad 80s perms, are in fact a farmer’s best friend; the perfect herd guard to protect lambs and other vulnerable types – low maintenance, environmentally friendly and with a nice sideline in super-soft wool.
I’ve found this out from Deborah Hein of Enthusiation Alpacas, who is a regular at Murrumbateman Village Market, accompanied by her other half Steve, and alpacas Lilo and Tuata. The latter are a star turn at this fortnightly gathering, with an endless stream of visitors stopping by for a pat and to chat to Deborah about her super-cute charges, or to pick up a ball of alpaca yarn or an alpaca-wool beanie from Enthusiation’s stall.
I leave disappointed that I am unable to take home an alpaca, but there is much more to explore here, including Frank Verduci’s market garden stall, stacked high with the freshest looking vegies and fruit.
Frank says he travels six hours from Cobram in Victoria to get here, and we’re glad he made the effort. You just don’t see this quality of greens, beans, caulis and tomatoes in the supermarket.
Quality is the byword at Allysa Leverton and Gerard Lawry’s nearby Eaglerise Farm stall too. The pair raise Dorper lambs near Albury and along with some excellent cuts of sustainably farmed meat, they’re selling a range of rubs and sauces.
A hot tip: if they’re doing the sausage in bread with homemade tomato sauce ($3.50 a pop), buy one for lunch. This is not your average snag.
At the entrance to the market, just near where Yahya and mum Sugram are turning out Turkish specialties at Andy’s Gozleme, student nurse Kimberley Delavere is selling blends under her own Bowning Tea Co label.
Kimberley says the flavours are inspired by regional Australia and in particular the Yass Valley area; her teas come with names such as Australian Alpine Green, High Country Harvest and Harvest Moon Sticky Chai. Along with her prettily packaged loose-leaf green, black and herbal teas, Kimberley sells a range of jams.
Murrumbateman Village Markets reopens on Sunday, 14 November. It’s held on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.
Yass Community Market
Bimbi Turner reckons she and her husband Kim own the smallest olive grove in the world. One 160-year-old tree, in fact, from which they’ve managed to squeeze the bare minimum of olives over the past 15 years.
While olive oil is a feature, it is not the focus of the stall Bimbi, resplendent in bright red scarf, striped apron and woollen hat, runs with Kim at this indoor market on the main street in Yass. Their stock in trade is loads of loaves – sourdoughs; sultana, currant and walnut loaves; baguettes; grissini and a whole lot more. It’s impossible not to stop, and we leave tucking into a couple of sugar-coated grissini sticks.
Yass Community Market is a fairly small affair but with a good community heart. We buy a box of James Brown’s eggs, farmed in Bowning – just 100 chooks a hectare, as opposed to up to 10,000 in the same-sized patch for some free-range farms, James tells us – and stop to look at the lovely range of toys from Kathleen Brigdale’s Thorbourne Baby stall.
There are cakes and pastries, honeys and jams, locally made woodworks, shawls and blankets – even a Yass Valley Feline Foundation stall supporting local moggies. Purrfect.
Yass Community Market is held on the first and third Saturday of the month at Yass Memorial Hall, 62 Comur Street, Yass.
Riverbank Markets Yass
A relative newcomer to the Yass Valley market scene, Riverbank Markets offers another opportunity for local makers to promote their artisan products to eager buyers.
“We already had a farmers market alternating weekly between Murrumbateman and Yass, plus the monthly Binalong market. The concept for Riverbank was to be a general market – a mix of food, produce, arts, crafts, collectibles, clothing, toys, homewares, pet treats – pretty much anything at all, with a focus on local vendors,” says Andrew Hennell, who established the privately-run market this year.
The first market day was in pretty Riverbank Park in January and was a great success, says Andrew.
Before lockdown, Riverbank was regularly attracting 40 to 50 stalls, including Farmhouse Pet Treats, which Andrew runs with partner Samantha Rattenbury. The pair founded the business – which produces treats for pampered pets including dog cookies, doughnuts, crazy bones and birthday cakes, as well as staples for other animals – on their farm in Yass, using local ingredients.
Other regular sellers include Preloved and Vintage, Rhonda’s Succulents, Sand & Soul Emporium, Allan’s Fruit and Veg and more.
“Once we’re able to, the market will be back every fourth Sunday of the month and we have plans to add a live music component, and have rides and activities for kids,” Andrew says, adding that the market contributes a percentage of the takings from each event to local community and sporting groups and makes space for community stands.
Riverbank Markets Yass reopens on Sunday 24 October 2021. It’s held on the fourth Sunday of the month at Riverbank Park, 15 Comur Street, Yass.
Markets featured in this story have been impacted by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Before travelling to any of those listed, contact the operators directly to ascertain current operating hours.
To plan your visit to the venues in this story, and other Yass Valley highlights, visit Yass Valley.