20 October 2021

Come for a yarn, pick up a cake pop, or mingle with pie society in the Yass Valley

| Michelle Rowe
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Binalong Community Markets

You’ll be greeted with a warm smile by Sarah Pineda and her mum Selina at their Binalong Community Markets stall. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

Cocoabunbuns at Binalong Community Markets

Cookies, cakes and other sweet treats at Sarah Pineda’s Cocoabunbuns stall. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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…

Cliff and Lorraine Murphy at Binalong Community Markets

Cliff and Lorraine Murphy are old hands on the market circuit, selling their delicious pies and produce for nearly 20 years. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

Lorraine's pies at Binalong Community Markets

Don’t leave Binalong Community Markets without one of these homemade beauties from Cliff and Lorraine Murphy’s stall. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.”

Binalong Community Markets

It would be hard to find a more picturesque spot for shopping than Binalong Community Markets. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

Alpacas at Murrumbateman Village Market

Deborah Hein of Enthusiation Alpacas with Lilo and Tuata at Murrumbateman Village Market. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

Verduci Market Farm stall at Murrumbateman Village Market

High-quality produce from the Verduci Market Farm stall in Murrumbateman. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

Murrumbateman Village Market

Allysa Leverton and Gerard Lawry sell sustainably reared lamb and more at their Eaglerise Farm stall in Murrumbateman. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

Kimberley Delavere at Murrumbateman Village Market

Kimberley Delavere draws on local inspiration for her boutique Bowning Tea Co products. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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 and her husband Kim run a stall packed with breads, cakes, pastries and oils at Yass Community Market. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

James Brown at Yass Community Market

James Brown’s eggs are sustainably farmed from chooks in Bowning. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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.

Kathleen Brigdale at Yass Community Market

Kathleen Brigdale’s Thorbourne Baby stall has some wonderful gifts for the youngest in the family. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

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

Riverbank Markets is located in picturesque Riverbank Park, off Comur Street, Yass. Photo: Riverbank Markets.

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.

Riverbank Markets

Andrew Hennell and Samantha Rattenbury sell treats for pampered pooches (and other pets) through their Farmhouse Pet Treats stall at Riverbank Markets. Photo: Farmhouse Pet Treats.

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.

Binalong Community Market pumpkins

Perfect pumpkins are among locally grown produce to be found at the markets. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

“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.

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