Any dog hoping for a quiet sleep while his or her owner downs a coldie inside one of the town’s two pubs is for disappointment as artists, craftspeople, growers, designers, and visitors converge to buy, sell, meet and eat.
The Eumundi markets on Memorial Drive have become a tradition for locals and tourists over more than 40 years and are visited by more than 1.5 million people a year.
The Original Eumundi Market has spawned spin-off operations and it is hard to tell where one market ends and another begins in the sprawl of 600-odd stalls – a far cry from the tiny first market of just three stalls in 1979.
Handmade pottery, silver rings, original paintings, wood-fired pizza, pure honey, candles, cards, cool kids’ clothes, crocheted dresses, and Bob Marley jocks… the variety of goods on sale is limited only by the imaginations of the stallholders.
Often, there is a story behind the wares they sell or the life journey that has led them to the markets.
Bec Lindemann, whose Spun Mud stall adorns one of the entries to the Original Eumundi Market, creates beautiful, worked for a large pottery before an influx of imports sent the business into decline.
She studied ceramics, worked at a studio, and worked with Brisbane’s Amfora Studio Pottery before a move to Mothar Mountain, between Noosa and Gympie, prompted her to “go it alone”.
From an off-the-grid home studio, she creates bowls, mugs, dishes and other pieces have both an earthiness and joy, which she sells at the market and through an online store.
She enjoys the camaraderie of other stallholders at the market and the opportunities for personal exchanges, not just transactions.
“It’s really about talking to people and meeting the makers of the objects you’re looking at,” she says.
Opposite Bec’s stall is Alejandro Etchegarary, who has clocked up close to 20 years at the markets, making him one of the long-termers.
The South American-born craftsman makes jewellery from gems, coral, pearls and silver wire.
The readymade rings at his stall, Alejandro Amber, are particularly popular with young travellers. If they cannot find a ring to suit or fit, he makes one for them on the spot with a stone or pearl of their choosing.
For Alejandro, the markets are a way for craftsmen like him to earn a living. His craft is something she must practise, and something which defines his life.
“If you look at craft as money, you lose the rites of craft,” he says.
Alejandro’s market neighbour is Greg Drew, whose sells his own handmade jewellery under the name Jewellery by me.
The son of a wholesale jeweller, he started learning about silversmithing in India and continued to follow his interest.
His unique and organic style developed from a reluctance to drive from his home to the Buderim Craft Cottage to use some of the silversmithing equipment available to members.
“Eventually, I decided just to make something with the tools I had at home,” he said.
Greg crafts pendants, rings, earrings and charms from silver, gold, and copper, sometimes incorporating gemstones and often incorporating cut-outs or engravings of delicate trees.
He says it is important for visitors to the markets to understand its different components.
There are stalls selling original items and fresh produce, true to the market’s origins; others selling imported items; a natural therapies section, where visitors can seek out the likes of clairvoyants and reiki therapists; the food court with a selection including Mexican and Turkish fare, coffee, fruit juice and even cane juice. Permanent stalls, similar to small shops, operate from a separate section on Napier Road.
What visitors see as they pass a market stall are often not just products, but a little of the stallholder’s soul, too.
Alice Caines, who makes and Life’s Good Curry Pastes with her husband, Sam, says it takes a lot of courage for makers to sell their products at a market.
“It’s a bit of yourself and you open yourself up for comments,” she says.
The Caines worked in hospitality for many years but began making and selling Life’s Good Curry Paste after deciding they wanted more stable and family-friendly hours.
They had travelled in and enjoyed the food of south-east Asia and decided to use combine their experiences and hospitality knowledge to make their own curry paste.
“At first, we were making it for friends and family and they said we should be selling it,” Alice says.
“That was hard thing to do, to put something in a package and sell it. It was a leap of faith.”
Alice points out that purchases made at the markets support local businesses and local families.
“My kids know exactly how many curry pastes I have to sell to buy a takeaway meal,” she says.
The markets have provided Kristina Moore with a way of earning an income around looking after her children.
Paper Birdie, which sells handmade cards and soy candles, is Kristina’s third incarnation at the market after stalls paintings for children’s rooms and children’s clothes.
The artwork on her candle packaging has been done by one of her once small children, now a graphic designer.
Kristina says the markets offer a chance for buyers to interact with those who make, bake, grow and sew items for sale.
“There’s so many different people here from all walks of life. It’s different from shopping centres. You get an opportunity to meet the makers,” she says.
The markets can be an important stepping stone for artists, and an opportunity for them to escape the solitude of their studios, share ideas, and network.
Painter Wayne Smith is a relative newcomer to the markets with his original landscapes and abstract sea scapes.
Wayne studied art but followed commercial work to support his family and only in recent years has begun following his passion, which has led to exploring the use photoluminescence in his paintings and collaborating with other artists.
The market is not only a sales outlet but a source of interaction and inspiration for him.
“This market, it feels really comfortable. Some of the feedback I get from people is amazing,” he says.
“They come in here and we begin conversing and before you know it, we’re having these deep conversations about life and everything,” he says.
Some speculate the Eumundi markets have an energy of their own, the combined energies of the free spirits, creatives, and the many visitors from all over the world.
They are a place to fill your soul, not just the shopping bags.
- Arrive early to get a park and have the best opportunity to look around. The markets are busiest from 10.30-11.30am.
- On-street parking fills up fast and is limited to two hours. Unlimited parking is available in the ECCO park on Napier Road for $6, which goes to charity.
- Dress up – it’s not essential but it’s a great place free your inner boho.
- Bring a bag.
- Bring a hat and water, particularly if it is hot, although drinks are available.
- Know the different market components: home-made/handmade original items, imports, fresh produce and the food court.
- Look online and narrow down the stalls of interest to you if you are after something specific or have limited time available.
- Talk to the stallholders – they have some fabulous stories.
- Park menfolk at one of the pubs if they do not like shopping.
- BYO pet – dogs are allowed on leash. One visitor even brought a chook.
- Share some love around.