out and about in strathalbyn
WANT SOMEWHERE TO MEET AND WANDER AND FILL AN ENTIRE DAY MEANDERING AND TAKING IN EVERY SENSE? TAKE A SHORT DRIVE TO STRATH!
KELLY GOLDING LEADS THE WAY...
For someone who regularly meets family for lunch in Strath, as we fondly call it, I usually allow an extra hour or two to squeeze in some shop browsing and a walk through the gardens, but let me tell you, that is certainly not enough time to truly appreciate this gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula township.
If you arrive early, you can fit quite a lot into a day, but if taking out one or two hours for a relaxing lunch, I highly recommend booking local accommodation and making a mini getaway out of it. There is so much to see and experience!
Strathalbyn literally has something for everyone. Known for its historical museums and antique shops, it also has new blood and modern touches around every corner.
Where to begin? I parked the car along the main road near the Strathalbyn Visitor and Information Centre. It is a township that you can quite easily get around on foot, so I suggest wearing comfy shoes, and a have a bit of cash on hand as well as your cards. Not all locations have PayPal, especially some of the must visit museums and historical venues, and it’d be a shame not to visit because of a lack of gold coin.
After a special visit to the Station Master’s Art Gallery to see their up-coming SALA exhibition, the next thing to catch my eye was the sign to Jeff's Books on Catherine Street. You have to be careful, as you could quite easily spend the majority of the morning in here if you are a mad lover of the hardback variety. There’s a planned chaos about this place, and the store’s caretaker is a character too. Bubbly effervescent personality that you can’t help but smile while listening to.
If books are your thing you’ll also not want to miss The Bookkeeper Bookshop nearby.
Hills & Coast was my next stop. Gorgeous local products including Etikette Candles, (pick one up in naturally, Fleurieu scent), and gorgeous stationery prints from local artist Zinia King. Clothing, pottery, furniture and homewares. I just wanted to inhale this store and take it all home with me. Owner Belinda is proud of the township and willing to share other amazing local hot spots.
Argus House is eclectic, fun, and I always find something I want to take home. Things I never knew I needed in my life, like gorgeous handmade felt Babushka dolls. The kids will also love this store with its colourful, playful personality.
If lunch is calling, our go to is always the Victoria Hotel. They have a gorgeous new outside alfresco area facing the park, where I pretend I’m in France surrounded by bright red geraniums in the sunshine and a sparkling or gin aperitif in hand. Their menu never disappoints.
Over the road the beautifully curated and cared for Soldiers Memorial Gardens are always a vision no matter what the season. Filled with hundreds of roses and striking bridges, the spring scents and vision are to behold, but bare winter also has its beauty, as the water and emerald green grass steal the show, along with the sweet honey fragrance from the flowering blossom. I actually did a double walk by just to take in the aroma again.
Close your eyes and listen to the birds, water cascading from the Angus River, and sounds of laughter coming from the flying fox in the nearby fully fenced children’s playground. There’s also an outdoor swimming centre in the warmer months.
Grab a takeaway coffee from nearby Hammer ‘n’ Tongs and sit at the picnic tables or throw a rug on the lawns near the water and savour the tranquillity. The other alternative could be to pack a picnic, let the kids or grandies run around if in tow and save your lunch money to spend on books and homewares.
After the gardens and stretch of the legs you can start your meander along Historic High Street. High Street Trading certainly demands your attention straight up. Formal and eloquent, scented candles burning and beautiful indoor plants, you actually feel like you are in someone’s home. Once you enter, meander through the five rooms, full of interiors, clothing and furniture. I challenge you to walk out empty handed.
For a little afternoon delight, try the quaint Pastel Tea Cup for scones and their leaf tea varieties. They also stock bespoke children’s clothing, doll house furniture and delicious delicacies in the cabinet. Even the coffee machine is pastel pink.
If you managed to get out of Jeff’s Books, the same may not be said for Antique Bazaar of Strathalbyn. I could’ve spent the entire day here getting lost in rows of old records, cameras, typewriters, cutlery, machinery, jewellery, and memorabilia from every decade. I’ve always been convinced I was born in the wrong era as feel completely at home surrounded by antiques and never want to leave.
If you do exit before closing time, The Potting Shed on Sunter is a must last stop to take home a commemorative indoor plant or tree for the garden at home. It’s such a creative space to walk through, full of personality with so many fun sculptural ideas for your own oasis.
If it’s not a weekend when you visit, make sure you come back to Bramble Pottery. I didn’t get to this store but I’ve crushed over Jane’s creations on Instagram and it’s a definite first up for my next visit.