On the 6th, 7th and 8th of March of 2010 is the last big antique fair in Ballarat, Australia. No, it’s not the last one that will occur, but it is the largest one left.

Oh Melbourne, what happened? Park Lane Antique Centre used to hold one of the largest antique fairs at the Caulfield Racecourse and the turn-out was always large, the vendors were plentiful, friendly and came from all over Australia. Much of my money took flight at that fair.

There was the Camberwell Antique Fair, which is on again / off again and that was always when the year was winding down from fair season. Not the biggest or the best, but it was the nice refresher to a good season of antique hunting.

Multiple fairs dotted the state with lots of passion from everyone attending. But all of a sudden, it stopped.

Many of the big fairs have migrated north and still maintain a healthy flow of patronage, but here, the last few moved from the city to regional centres. After talking with many of the dealers, it seems that many are winding down and don’t want to participate like  they used to. Others say that Melbourne has a good many visitors who treat it like a museum. The common calls of ‘I used to own something like this’ or ‘they want $100 for a glass? I can get that at Ikea for $2’ do break the heart of the dealer and the serious collector, but I do miss the old days.

By 2000, Park Lane and other antique centres on High Street Malvern started to either cease or change their positioning from antique centres to homewares stores. Malvern Antique Centre, Camberwell Antique Market and the Tyabb are are still going strong, but the life of the big antique centre is swiftly becoming an antique itself. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as you’ll find in another post!

Everyone, go to Ballarat this weekend and have fun!

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