As I am driving through Fyshwick with the GPS set to Billy T’s at Dirty Janes, I start to get worried about the accuracy of the navigation as it instructs me to head into the Domayne car park and keep driving! But lo and behold, with a left turn at the end of the driveway, there is a whole other sprawling precinct.
An institution in Bowral, Dirty Janes is the largest vintage market in the area. It has become renowned as one of the most popular shopping destinations in the Southern Highlands for locals and tourists alike since opening its doors in 2009. The large space is occupied by over 70 vendors, selling every form of treasure including furniture, garden wares, ornaments, paintings, collectibles, jewellery, vintage clothing and decorator items.
In March, at the height of COVID-19, Dirty Janes swung open the beautiful antique wooden doors to its Canberra outpost.
Even larger than Bowral, the Canberra location boasts not only the main warehouse which is over 2000 square metres and houses over 90 independent unique stalls, but it also has a huge outdoor space. Currently, there is a blacksmith in one of the outdoor buildings and another charming cottage which is being used for events. There are plans to develop the area further with a sustainable garden, orchards, more animals to keep the two resident goats company, and plenty of running-around space for children.
Having never visited the Bowral location, I did not know what to expect for my first visit to Dirty Janes Canberra and what I found was a goldmine of delight, inspiration and sentimentality. As I reach the entrance right on opening time at 10:00 am, there’s already a queue of people waiting to be let in and as the doors open most of them make a beeline for Billy T’s.
Playing on the name of a quintessential Aussie brew made famous in Waltzing Matilda, Billy T’s is the onsite café at Dirty Janes providing sustenance for shoppers and stallholders alike. Located at the entrance, it is split over two rooms. On the right is the bustling service counter with window bar seating which is perfect for a quick cup of coffee while you look out onto the property. On the left, there is another room set up with tables and chairs for a proper sit-down meal and catch up to discuss and share all the finds you uncovered at Dirty Janes.
Billy T’s owner Caleb Evans had a vision for his new venture that centred around old-fashioned service, nostalgic food and local produce. Operating out of a small kitchen he concentrates on a wholesome familiar menu of feel-good toasties, waffles, and a stellar range of house-made baked goods.
The irresistible favourite is proving to be the humble scone with jam and cream. Caleb chose to pair his moist fluffy creations with the small-batch bespoke range of Drunken Sailor jams. He’s going through over four litres of jam a week.
Sitting side-by-side with the house-made creations in the full display cabinet is a range of Sonoma and Three Mills baked goods of croissants, tarts, and sausage rolls ready to feed hungry shoppers. Given the name of the eatery is based on a famous good brew, along with stellar coffee, there is a list of 16 teas on the menu. All tea is sourced from their next-door neighbour, local supplier Tea Garden Co, which blends their range onsite at Dirty Janes.
Billy T’s is located inside Dirty Janes at 80B Collie St, Fyshwick. It’s open seven days a week from 10:00 am.