Home territory is often, oddly, a foreign country. I’m not much of a shopper, and it took me months to realise that two new shops have opened in Bodalla, although I drive past them four or five times a week, and even park in front of them. When a breakfast at Blue Earth was cancelled at the last minute, I ambled in to see what they held, and when my friend was visiting made a thorough tour of the town, camera in hand.
Songbee sells things sourced from markets in Cambodia. The owner’s grandfather came to this part of the world in the early 20th century, and she’s run a number of business in the area over the last few years. In the current shop coconut shells have been transformed: they’ve become gleaming bowls painted with feathers or tropical flowers and long necklaces. Fabrics have become elephant purses; soft blocks; owl cushions. Mats are woven from recycled saris; bags manufactured from recycled paper.
Next door, Different Choices combines the old (old gramophone, squeezebox, posters for Elvis films), the handmade (pigs from gas cylinders) and knick-knacks, ornaments, bric-a-brac, bibelots, and curios.
Down the hill, Hippie Sticks vibrates with its tie-dyed rainbows: hats, shoes, jumpsuits, sarongs, you name it, all a swirl of purples, reds, greens, oranges, blues
Between Hippie Sticks and the Lavendar Shop, around the corner from the cat in front of the fire, is Hairwaves, a shop I visit semi-regularly, usually just before I head overseas. It’s where I luxuriate in a shampoo, never quite rough enough, catch up with local news, meet friends from the deep past and occasionally encounter a neighbour I didn’t know I had.
More subtle than Hippie Sticks is the Lavendar Shop, a haze of mauve and purple: soaps, bags, sachets, oils. The garden outside grows lavendar, and last year, flourishing purple hardenbergia, with its little green eyes, wound its way up the picket fence.
Next door is the Artisans Nest, an outlet for a variety of local artists: felters, fibre and mixed media artists, jewellery makers, users of reclaimed materials, experimenters with natural dyes, sculptors, makers of dolls, art cards and dream catchers, knitters, weavers, printers.
Behind the post office is Gallery Bodalla, which has for me a dangerous wall with a window in the centre. Paintings I’m tempted to buy always hang there, and yes, once I succumbed and bought two. The story of that purchase is revealed at http://morselsandscraps.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/frugality-and-impulse-in-mortal-combat/
The temptation is there again in the current exhibition – two reasonably priced landscapes of Broken Hill, once my heart’s home. The exhibitions are always of work by local artists, although not always on local themes, and are very diverse. I love the opportunity to duck in for a revisit during the month of the hanging.
And then of course there’s the Post Office itself. There you can buy the usual stamps, and also books for grandkids, spec wipes, postcards, photographic cards. All purchases come with the gift of friendliness.
That’s Bodalla, my nearest tiny town – population 527 in the 2011 census – rich in treasures far beyond my expectations when I embarked on an attempt to profile it.
If you’re interested in demographics, have a look at