Craft Fair Road Trips

On the road again,

… by Bobbi O’Riley, Eureka! Beads

Like many of the traders who participate in craft fairs around Australia, Eureka! Beads is a small, family owned and operated business. While this means that the business is a full time job for all involved (and often a 20 hour-a-day job!), there are some fabulous perks to this.

Sun setting over a day of driving
The original Bead-Mobile

One of the biggest perks is the travel.

When we first started doing interstate craft shows about 10 years ago, we had to make the decision: do we organise all of our stock to be freighted to the various events around Australia (could
we even fit the masses of stock we like to carry into one small portable container?), or do we find a vehicle suitable for the long drives we would be doing, and start driving from Melbourne to Sydney, Melbourne to Canberra, Melbourne to Brisbane, Melbourne to Perth…

The custom 6-wheeler getting some TLC at the mechanics – unfortunately this was emergency surgery on the way back from a show, and the truck was semi-loaded (was a mess to sort out on our return home!)

 

As a family of avid travellers, we decided on the latter, which is how we ended up with the F250.
While popular with the guys on the road, it was nothing compared to our current vehicle, a Land Cruiser 6 wheeler custom job (complete with tip tray and winches). There is nowhere we can go, be it a service station, a local pub or the loading dock of an exhibition center, where guys won’t race up to us, gushing over the awesomeness of this thing. Personally, I’m just happy it has an MP3 player for the long trips!

Along the way the Biggest Digger

Occasionally we’ll run into friends from the Craft Fairs on the road, particularly on the longer Melbourne to Perth trip. Often we’ll pull into the Quarantine station to be told that “the guy in the big truck told me to give the bearded bead guy (my dad) a hard time!”. We just laugh and pass on the message to watch out for the crafter in the grey van!

We’ve sat down to meals in Kalgoorlie’s local Indian restaurant to find the people at the next table are our friends from the lace stand, also on their way to the Perth show.

There’s quite a few of us from the Craft & Quilt Fairs that do the drive, and you may overhear us at the shows discussing the best place to get food in Gundagai, or the cheapest place on the
Nullabor for petrol. The answer – there isn’t one!
It’s a different lifestyle choice, and most of us who do the drives love it because we get to experience different towns and interact with different people.

For us, it’s not about racing to our destination as quickly as possible – it’s about the journey that we enjoy.

From the bare stand … to the Bead Stand!

Arrival into the ‘big smoke’, whether it’s Perth, Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne is always crazy, especially navigating the city traffic after days of long, quiet highways.

Setting up for a show is hard work – we are essentially creating a temporary shop for four or five days of trade before we pull it all down again. Those of us who drive have an extra chore – we need to move the stock from our vehicle to our stand and we’re always a little envious of others who have their stock freighted in, straight to their stand!

But as we begin the slow process of setting up, we stop, time and time again, to chat to our friends from around the country as they arrive, asking about their trip, enquiring about their families and having a yarn with the organisers.

Strong friendships are formed on the show circuit and once we are finally set up and ready for show opening, we’re often off to the pub for a catch up session.

Our camp setup at sunrise
Looking for sapphires – and yes, we found some lovely blue ones!

A few years ago we decided that rather than stay in small motels along the way to our destinations, we would see more by camping. So we invested in a few swags and have seen even more of our country by travelling this way. There’s nothing quite like waking up to the sun rising and the
sounds of dingos howling. I don’t think I would ever have made the time to enjoy experiences like this if we didn’t participate in the craft shows. I do have to admit though, I wasn’t as
prepared as I should have been on my first camping trip across the Nullabor. But I now have several sets of thermals, beanies, gloves, scarves and more and am able to handle the cold … just!

On every trip we take the time to see or do something different. That way every trip is a new experience for us.

You can catch Bobbi next at the Eureka! Beads stand at the Craft & Quilt Fair in Brisbane, October 16-20. You can also view their website which has a great range of projects and products at www.eurekabeads.com.au.

 

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