Every now and then I get a lil sick of being in the city and plan a mini adventure to the country. Last weekend was one of those times so I decided to road trip out to the Grampians, stopping along the way at Ballan (for their amazing ops but more on that later), Ballarat for their annual international Foto Biennale, and then on to Dunkeld and up to Halls Gap to drive up the mountains. The plan was to take a bunch of photos, spend some time planning a few exciting upcoming shoots by the creek and then trek into the waterfalls – but as always I got distracted by the charm of country towns and their amazing op shops. So instead of writing about the mountains and forest and nature adventures I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite op shops if you’re heading out towards the Grampians on a road trip and feel like doing a lil vintage shopping on the way!
- Ballan Op Shop ~ 111 Inglis Street, Ballan
right in the centre of town is this crazy, wacky old house covered in plants and mosaics and that’s exactly where you’ll find some of the coolest, cheapest second hand in Ballan. I was way too excited and overwhelmed to take a snap but if you’re heading into town from Melbourne you’ll find it on your left as you hit the main strip. Make sure to check out the back because there’s a huge courtyard filled with vintage furniture. They also have a really good shoe rack!
2. Mill Markets – Ballarat ~ 9367 Western Hwy, Ballarat
If you know much about thrifting you’ve probably already come across the Mill Markets- they’re MASSIVE warehouses filled with tens of tiny vintage stores and sell everything from vinyl to furniture, clothes, books and film cameras. There’s one in Daylesford and Geelong and Ballarat, and they all have the cutest lil cafes with the best ever scones. The Ballarat Mill Markets are literally visible from the highway as you head into Ballarat from Melbourne and I think might even be a little bit cheaper than the other Mill Markets. They’re not as cheap as op shops but not as expensive as vintage stores or anything vintage from the inner city. Definitely worth checking out – also while you’re in Ballarat you should really check out Mid City Hotel in town, just for the mid-century vibes.
3. Beaufort Big Garage Sale ~ 31 Neill St, Beaufort
I stopped at Beaufort on the way back to Melbourne – it’s a tiny lil town you’ll likely pass through and there’s a couple of op shops but the highlight of the town is Beaufort Big Garage Sale. It’s a huge warehouse filled with quirky antique and vintage furniture and random bric-a-brac like lamps, vases, bar trolleys and a bunch more. It’s MASSIVE and really pretty well priced. Also the owner is a real cool guy who loves to chat about Melbourne’s food scene and reminisce his younger days living in the inner north.
A couple of other things you should checkout:
About fifty minutes out of Halls Gap on your way back to Melbourne is Ararat, one of the bigger country towns out that way and it’s filled with mid century architectural gems like this one- the Ararat Pub. The highway takes you right down the main road and there’s a bunch of cool old buildings to check out.
The Actual Grampians (a.k.a. why I went in the first place)
Despite all the rad op shops The Grampians are actually still the highlight of my roadtrip- they photograph really well, are normally not super busy and have some unreal views if you go on a clear day (which I did not). My favourite spot is Mackenzie Falls- a huge waterfall in the middle of the red dirt that you can follow all the way down to into a canyon. If you sit at the top of the waterfall, drink a beer and watch the sun set down into the canyon you won’t ever want to leave. Also Halls Gap is a really sweet little town at the bottom of the mountains and worth a visit too!