Blue skies, warm weather, a long weekend in April were the perfect conditions to enjoy a day out at Manly beach, north Sydney. ( Yes, Sydney ‘Time Out’ listed its weekend markets, which was a bonus). Excitement and anticipation swelled as we waited in the long snaking queues at Circular Quay Ferry Wharf along with other tourists and Sydney siders for a ferry ride across the harbour.
At Manly wharf, eager holiday crowds descended on to the main street, heading towards the blue sea and surf. This quaint suburb had its very own distinct architecture. Art deco buildings of 1800 -1900’s had been given a fresh paint, buildings at street corners were shaped angular and balconies were round shaped. The main promenade or ‘The Corso’ has had multiple redevelopments. The local Council takes pride and interest in promoting local culture and heritage, which in turn stimulates business and tourism. The weekend market is one such project.
We passed many shops selling ice creams, sun hats, sunglasses and Billabong surf and beach wear. There were travel agents selling flight brochures, a Cole’s supermart well stocked with groceries, and some other sundry items.
In the 1860’s there were just two or three hotels here and few cafes along the sea front. Today, Manly is a rich and bustling tourist suburb with many more charming beachfront bars and restaurants. White shade giving parasols and outdoor chairs made for a picture perfect scenic seafront.
Away from this frenzy quietly tucked away on Sydney street, was the colourful weekend market. With so many people there…it sure was a buyer’s and browser’s haven!
Care for a Hawaiian shirt or hand-made beaded jewellery? Soft smelling soaps or Art deco posters? The market had something for everyone! Else…head out to the azure blue waters and soft sands just across.
I took a carefree slow walk, peering almost at each stall. The open air market had a mixed smell – sea breeze mingling with aroma of roasted coffee beans wafting from the nearby cafes. How intoxicating! Stalls displayed a variety of loose printed shirts, beachwear in white, blue and coral colours, sunglasses, books and exclusive beeswax paper used to cover food items . There was handmade bead jewellery, bracelets of shells and raffia strings. Catering to the hungry crowds – the makeshift mobile vans at the far end of the street turned into fast selling food stalls. Caramel, boysnberry and pistacchio Gelato, Turkish Gozleme that are spinach and cheese wraps, burgers and sandwiches, hot fries, ham strips and Mexican nachos. “No one goes hungry. Come on, tuck in” called the vendors.
I settled in for a cappuccino and some handmade hazelnut chocolates. Hmmm…aromatic and the crunch complemented each other.
Want a Hawaiian print shirt? A soothing scented hand-made soap? Or souvenirs and paintings from locals ? Or just have a chat with one of the stall holders and hear about their way of life. Aren’t markets a great place to walk and talk?
Visit: http://www.timeout.com/sydney/shopping/manly-markets to know more and plan your trip.
Smelling the fresh seaside air, listening to live music in the background, smiling at children licking their ice creams while frolicking around water fountains, around this vibrant market was just so relaxing. I carried no bag, no intentions to buy.
But what is a place if you do not interact with its people? So…I introduced myself to the man behind the crafted books. “My name’s Bob, I’m a retired engineer” he said in thick Australian accent extending a friendly handshake. “Look, I have something special for you, Indian lady” he said as we exchanged more notes. ” Here is a lovely Indian dictionary for you, can you read it to me?” …..And as we re read…he turned pages to the discrete carved out hollow within! ” This is where you can hide your cash and put the book on the library shelf! ” he smiled and insisted he gifts me the book safe.
The lady at next stall was selling sweet-scented hand-made soaps and candles. “Making these is therapy for me, on weekdays I work as a Prison Manager” she said. “‘ The job is tough and compelling.” She has been a regular seller here for past two years and enjoys the market’s ambience and summer sea breeze. She is getting queries from customers for more product range and is planning to set up an online business. “Happy Easter” we wished each other.
I soon mingled into the ”other” seaside crowd. The soft sands, thundering waves and frothy foam seemed so magical. At one end were professional surfers and paddlers, at the other children and non swimmers gleefully wet their feet with froth and cool waters.
Manly – a slice of life for each holiday maker. Shopping street and cafes, the market and the seaside. What’s your interest?Come, live it up!
For another Sydney market, at the scenic Sydney harbour see here
Have you been to a beachfront market place? What curios caught your eye there? Do leave your comments below.