Port Douglas approximately 70km North of Cairns is a very popular holiday destination for Australians and foreigners. It is the most Northern town on the East Coast hosting healthy population numbers before the coastal roads turn to dirt/mud and requires a 4 wheel drive to get anywhere higher in latitude.
The Port Douglas Market is the definitive big brother of markets up round the top of Oz on the right hand side! And it’s grown into an absolute Sunday institution and has a reputation far and wide.
It does sell some local produce such as organic tropical fruits and vegetables but generally the majority of stalls are selling every possible conceivable item you could ever think of… and very creatively too, I might add. One may only sell handmade local goods at this market and 99% of the stall holders stick to the rules.
Gone are the days where you had a few poles and pieces of plastic to protect you if it rained. These fancy pop up tents and changing cabins along with ornate decorations are an eye opener in themselves. Some of these stalls rival the classy shops on the main street of town. And you are entertained along the way of course. There are many talented buskers which add to the atmosphere.
So without further ado, may I take you on a tour of a favourite market of mine. May it be said that I have never left this market without being a little richer. (The purse might be lighter but the joy, trinkets and overall experience I have found far exceed anything.)
This lovely lady called Diana told me that she learnt to make Iced Tea in a Tibetan monastic community and prides herself with a very colourful stall inspired by a Tibetan temple. It is a delight to sit down and sip hot or iced Chai at her little table with the marvellous all-year round tropical Heliconia flowers picked freshly from her garden each week.
These guys are making Fruitpooh. I was going to say ice cream but that would be a lie. It’s just pure ripened fruit, icy cold and totally delicious. You can watch your chosen fruit ooze out of the contraption in a thick, sticky format!
HIGHLY CREATIVE, HAND MADE POTTERY ITEMS
This guy’s pottery is awesome. He creates very inventive, useful objets d’art. For instance, the salt and pepper cruets. Not normal! No, no, no, they have been designed for humid conditions. They are spiralled from within to prevent the damp air from clumping the salt. No rice needed. He even has examples that are fired and glazed to show the process of his thinking. (see far left green salt shaker in photo above.)
This is a knitting bowl. Very handy as many knitters would know. On one side of the bowl there are just little holes through which you can thread your wool. However, if you wish to change colours then you place the yarn inside the bowl and trip it through this slit above. Want a knew ball of wool? Hook it out, knot it and switch it over. Knitters rejoice!
His inventiveness goes on and on. He has repellent bowls for mosquito coils but no they are not just an ordinary bowl, there is also a handy, usable receptacle for the broken bits of the coil too. Nothing is wasted. Flare pots to burn in the garden, water coolers and much much more.
Ken Ison has been a very successful potter for 35 years. He has a website and you can see more there and even order too. www.kenisonpottery.com
INDIGENOUS AND CULTURAL ARTIFACTS AND PRODUCE
This Aboriginal has a diverse range of decorated woodwork…oops indiginous person.
Why has the word Aboriginal become wrong? Checking out the Oxford dictionary, we have a definition of “Aboriginal / abəˈrɪdʒɪn(ə)l: inhabiting or existing in a land from the earliest times or from before the arrival of colonists; indigenous.
It is not dedicated to Australian natives and it is not derrogatory in any way. I do not wish to remove it from my vocabulary. This word is multi cultural and the same word is used in French, Italian, Turkish, Danish, German, Norwegian to name just a few!
Kel Williams above creates all the woodwork above and his business is called Didjeridude. Love it. He calls himself an Indigenous Wood Sculptor and proudly tells you he is on You Tube!!!
No gangbuster FNQ (Far North Queensland) market could hold its head up high without a crocodile skin stall! These are croc belts below croc skins. These are all cultivated and bought from a Croc Farm nearby.
Let’s go a bit further and include some croc dentures too!!
And just to top it off, we have the Cane Toad keyrings and coin purses to go with the belts! Not a bad souvenir many people think. I don’t want to even think about how these little toadies are cleaned out and dried.
No tourist to Australia would consider their trip complete without purchasing an Aussie hat. Croc bands are extra. Add a little bit of skin and a few dentures. Lovely.
We love our hats. The scrunch up and pop out back into form perfectly.
Why they are not throwing in a Crocodile Dundee DVD if you buy two of these hats is beyond me!
Another indigenous fellow who has found a masterful way to make an income. His coconut stall is very popular. He has a special machine here where he knocks the coconut onto it and then somehow relieves it of its husk in one swift move.
The queue for coconuts is ridiculous. Firstly you are given the coconut in its whole state to drink the Coconut Water / Milk. Then you return with it empty and the coconut is opened up for you and scraped out. If desired you can have the nut meat chopped up and bits added to it, making it a tasty, healthy meal. I never saw less than a dozen people waiting patiently for this treat.
When I went to take closer photos of the inside camp I was shooshed away. Oh dear, he thought I was going to steal his ideas. Well, there aren’t a lot of coconuts falling from trees in Turkey so I am going to make a bet that he’s pretty safe on this one!
This stall above, just down the track from the coconut milk/nut meat shop aimed for a younger clientele and put their coconuts to good use too.
This little guy was working to make Cane Juice straight from the sugar cane. The woman assured me it was like an alcohol free Mojito. It was too early in the day – I was not ready for a shot.
Pedal harder…get those juices flowing!
Sugar cane ready for squeezing by any willing cyclists.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF UPPER END STALLS WITH HIGH QUALITY AND VERY REASONABLY PRICED GOODS
All the girls from Pele Jewelry working behind this counter were colour co-ordinated in white. The stall just oozed class and the jewelry was all beautifully made locally and reasonably priced.
They were in fact so popular that one girl was just a dedicated credit card swiper. Busy swiping everyone’s card as fast as she could. I bought a pair of earrings and was fourth in line to pay without cash.
One of the stalls that has drawn me back over and over is this one. Eva, another delightful German lady has real flair. She has managed to create 100% pure silk shirts, caftans, dresses, scarves and more using quality prints by renowned artists. Van Gogh, Klimt, Monet and more.
This is the little number I bought Mamma for her birthday last time I was in Port Douglas. It’s still a favourite.
Joan Miro I believe. As for my lack of shoes… I’m working hard at blending in! And doing a mighty good job I believe!
THINKING OF RETIRING HERE? Here are some ideas to keep you busy.
A stall with home made cushion covers, table runners, hammocks, soaps etc. Feels like a fair dinkum home store.
Some stalls do a little bit of everything. Vegies, bags, dresses…why not?
There are plenty of retirees up in Port Douglas and many of them now have time to show off their skills. This lady made awesome dolls…oops… plastic bag holders in every conceivable design. I bet you could bring a photo in and she could make a personalised one. Even a Voodoo doll/bag if necessary! I’ve ordered mine. Don’t delay!
Reinke is originally from Germany but been living here many years. She makes stunning place mats and coasters using simple colours and designs. She told me that after fishing trips, people raced in to buy the matching fish that they had caught.
She also had every tropical flower covered too along with a lot of wildlife. Her resin pouring skills to make them hardy, perfectly level and waterproof was truly high quality and worthy of the best.
Fathers and their sons love this stall but as I took this picture I overheard a little sister begging her Mum not to let Big Bro have one. She reckoned she was going to cop it!!
This stall had wooden guns shooting rubber bands, bows and arrows and sling shots. I don’t really want to write here what I think about this stall but I pity the wildlife…. and little sisters.
Local woods – now be honest… how many of these do you know well?
Bloodwood, Maple, Camphor Laurel, Mango, Quandong, Silkwood, Silky Oak, Black Bean, Ti Tree, Red Cedar, Poplar Gum, Mangrove Cedar to name a few are used to create some very unusual bowls and platters.
Petrified wood, flotsam and jetsam are popular with the arty ones here.
This Canadian guy was only there for my first weekend. I missed him. He was talented but then I chanced upon these guys and was blown away. Their sound was totally different and drew huge crowds. Not many musicians would think to pair a didgeridoo or three with a harp!
I don’t know how many stalls there are, but there are many lanes and thousands of people by mid morning. It opens at 8am and I got there at 7.45 one morning when I purposely rose early to shoot the sunrise. It was well worth the effort to get there before the crowds. Parking was a lot easier too.
Before you leave, it’s worthwhile tasting some of their local coffee. The plantations are a couple of hours away and this organically grown coffee is going places.
The view behind the market as the tide pulls out. Many were seen walking there but a local told me not to. Crocs! Lovely! I did actually doubt them but then just two days ago a croc was seen near the marina, less than 500 metres from here. I am now a believer!
An hour later it looked like this below and by the time I left, there was only water to be seen. The tide had come right in.
No matter how often I go, there is always something new to see, discover or taste. The ingenuity of the stall holders is staggering.
If you make it up to FNQ (Far North Queensland), then a Sunday trip along the coast to Port Douglas to include a trip to this market is definitely worthwhile. Closes at 2pm.
I’m hoping the Port Douglas Council will see my post and offer me a free month’s holiday including airfares from Turkey and luxury accommodation to come again and research the market in a year’s time. I would seriously consider it. Promise.