Judy and I and the boys had finally settled in the old Police Station at Bungonia. Built in 1906 on the old trade route to Sydney and closed in 1932 for lack of business…it was a lovely old bluestone residence… hugely thick 15inch solid walls making you realise that life didn’t have to be insubstantial. It even had the original cell with a huge steel barred door…which became our dining room when I broke through the wall from the kitchen to add it’s space.
So life was great. We would sit on the old verandah looking at the pine trees all around the park, which had been planted in 1906 by a lady (name forgotten) who called in one day to tell us so.
Then one night we were ensconced in the lounge room with me learning painting by copying nudes from Playboy, and Judy weaving on the loom that I had built for her from the beams from the old Goulburn flour mill which was destroyed by fire. And I said:
“Maybe we should open a small shop here in this lounge room…sell local art to the tourists going to the Bungonia Gorge”
After two hours and another week of persuasion Judy finally relented, and we set up the lounge room with four tables and chairs…and with shelves for the local art work…and a counter to show that we were a serious business. And I made a sign which was hung out the front:
‘The Olde Coppe Shoppe’. (“Open …Closed…’ which was necessary in case there was an (ahem) domestic reason we wanted privacy).
Then we went looking for local art to sell on commission. There wasn’t much. So we decided we had to stock the shop with other stuff from Wholesalers. This was hard, because Wholesalers don’t just sell stuff to any Tom Dick or Harry…you have to be a registered Retailer. And the only way you can prove that you are is if you have an account with a Wholesaler.
So it took us some time to find a shonky Wholesaler in Surry Hills who was prepared to open an account for us and thus give us access to the NIRVANA of Wholesaling.
We found that as a customer of a Wholesaler you didn’t have to buy a ute load of stuff…you could buy 2 pies for lunch! Or in our case 15 bees made in China which “would be nice on our counter for people as they were walking out.” (Judy was very smart about this stuff).
And we realised that the dried flowers and plants the wholsalers were selling were growing all around Bungonia, so we dried heaps ourselves and people would walk over the herbs on their way in to buy our dried plants in the shop.
So we were set. However, I was still on the lookout for local crafts. Which led me to enquire in Moruya as I was on my way to a meeting in Bega as to whether there were any artisans around the traps?
“Oh, you’d be looking for Fordy then.”
So I did…and after a number of false starts and dead ends I came upon a huge round building which was surrounded by lots of bric a brac and ceramic bottles – all with thin necks and bulbous bottle shapes.
I walked up to the door and knocked. After a time of no response I pushed open the door to see a round room about 25 metres across with a sort of mezzanine built over it.
In time a figure appeared from the mezzanine.
“Sorry mate, I been up all night firing.” It was clear from his red-eyed appearance that he had been firing more than the kiln all night.
After introducing myself and ascertaining that this was indeed Fordy, he explained that he had just fired a new lot of pots, which he offered to show me. Eagerly I agreed and followed him down the hill to the big wood-fired kiln…which he opened to show me masses of thin-necked bulbous bottles very similar in colour to the hundreds littering our path.
No! I couldn’t bring myself to ask. But a young lady who appeared out of the house quietly explained in an aside to me that “Fordy’s gone a bit troppo out here. Been here too long.”
We chatted a bit about his graduation from East Sydney Tech …EAST SYDNEY TECH! I would have given my eye teeth for such an opportunity! Then I bought a bottle from him for $1.50 and went on my way.