April 11th, 2021Celebrating 40 years of the Daylesford Sunday Market
It’s also a celebration for the historic Daylesford Spa Country Railway – the reason the market started back on Sunday, April 19, 1981.
Railway spokesperson Stuart Smithwick said it was a celebration of an important milestone in history. “The market concept was for it to be a fundraiser for the fledgling railway preservation group and while there were concerns it would not work, 40 years later it is bigger and better than it has ever been.
“In the early days it was more car boot style, but always weekly, and it has continued to grow over the years not only increasing revenue for the railway, because we would not exist as we are without the market, but it’s also a huge benefit to the community and a great tourism asset for Daylesford.
“People come to the region, stay in their B&B, have breakfast on a Sunday and come to the market, it’s just what you do here. And during COVID the market was a critical part of feeding people in Daylesford. It was amazing.”
Market manager Raoul Benedict said the celebrations would include a free petting zoo, free face painting, entertainment including from the Daylesford Secondary School band and a birthday cake.
“Going forward the future is very bright. The market is always evolving. When I first started there was a lot more bric-a-brac and less local content but now we have a lot more produce and craft – although there will always be that car boot element.”
For those keen to add a train trip to their market visit, the historic trains run all day on Sundays to Bullarto, staffed only by volunteers.
“Last Wednesday we also had trains running during the school holidays and had over 100 passengers so everyone is obviously enjoying it,” Stuart said.
“I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of the volunteers from those early days, establishing the market and all the managers we have had over the years, especially Bill McClenaghan, who was there week in and out, no matter the weather, just like Raoul. It’s not easy having a 6.30am start, every Sunday of the year.
“And we have some new volunteers now, which is great, along with the old guard who have been plugging away for such a long time.”
Stuart said a feasibility study was now under way for an extension of the rail to Trentham with “the right people saying the right things – so watch this space”.
Above, from left, volunteers Ross Bullock, Ian Rowe, Gary Pallister, Stuart Smithwick, John Jeffkins and Raoul Benedict
Words: Donna Kelly | Images: Kyle Barnes