Op-Shopping in The Gabba

Colloquially called “The Gabba,” I think it has something to do with the large sporting arena in the area.  Following a tip from a student, Lila and I ventured forth beyond our usual bounds to explore a wealth of second-hand shops in an area south of central Brisbane.

I don’t know what that purple building houses, perhaps a power station.  I’ve seen red and green ones around the city, anyone know of other colors?  I don’t mind them, they’re modern and utilitarian without mortifying the eye.  (Could I use the adjective “eye-blinding” here in some way?)

Rather warehousey, industrious (welding sheds) neighborhood.  Three words and as many stories to advertise beer, I had to show you.

First, a “proper” antique shop.  This place is full of solid, beautifully made pieces.

I found myself drawn to the clever and interesting box, thinking “How can I use this in my sewing room?” I opened the lid on a solid silver dining and serving set, complete in its gorgeous box.  Solid silver.  $Aud 11,000 worth of solid silver.

Pretty work on each of the pieces.  Sigh.  The owner and I talked about the relative virtues of hoarding metals, he knew I couldn’t possibly afford the set but told me about the value and the craftsmanship anyway.  I could tell he loves his job.

The Gabba Antique Centre.  I had to laugh at the mannequins all mo’ed out for Movember.

Pretty colors together, when I turned around and took in the table it looked clean, and inviting, like a summer garden in the late afternoon.  Will file that in color inspiration.

Movie theatre seats across the back of the warehouse.  Delight.  They screen 20’s silent films, the one I saw looked like a news reel complete with camels.

To my taste, the best pattern I found.  Unable to justify its purchase (what do I need it for?) I left it for another lady of good taste to pick up.

“Elizabeth,” dated 1890’s.  Anyone know how accurate to contemporary corset shapes this might be?  When I stood next to her and sized up the proportions, it was weird, but I think it was meant for a grown woman, girth-wise.

Lovely old machine.

I like kitsch if it is old kitsch.  I have to wonder about the person who would proudly display such things, and the thought tends to cast such pieces as humorous artifacts rather than old crap that needs lots of dusting.


I think it is a lighting installation, perhaps a statement on modern feminimity.  I couldn’t find any way to plug it in.  Imagine it in a dark room.  I could find a Medusa reference here.

I want one of these- a glass condiment service.  Salt, pepper, cruets for dressing and another little pot, just lovely.  The idea of using pretty, re-fillable containers rather than plastic appeals to me.   I object to the shoddy faux-silver tray on this particular set, it rattles dangerously when lifted.

Favorite skirt.  I wear it with everything, a relic from working in a vintage shop.  Fibre- the worst kind of polyester, and I love it anyway.

Speaking of polyester…  Most of the patterns I found were a variation on the same theme.

I took a long, long time looking at everything in the vicinity, eventually I dragged her away.  Maybe she can have one for Christmas.

As I walked through the shop, I spotted some strangely bare tables set up as a diner.  I turned my head and saw a little sandwich counter, seamless with the rest of the shop.  Beautiful.

Toasted ham and cheese croissants, delicious.  It seemed the sort of place where people lingered, the girls behind the counter gave me tips on places to find old sewing patterns.  Cheap, too, which can be hard to find here.

Sweet Marie,” much cooler than the website might lead you to believe.  The Fonz?  50’s?  Cheap re-interpretations of the past?  No, this is something else entirely.

Something I love this time of year: Jacarandas.  Perfectly ordinary trees suddenly froth a distinctive shade of blue-purple and litter the ground with their discarded finery.

People often plan their weddings to coincide with the jacaranda bloom.  An entire clump transfixes you even in the middle of drab urban surroundings.


  1. I love your posts about Brisbane too. I lived there in the mid to late seventies. You seem to capture some of the charm I remember about the place.

  2. Heya Steph, reading through the archives – the purple building (there's a red one too) is an air vent to release hot air from the Clem 7 tunnell :)

  3. Hi, those large coloured 'buildings' that you see around the city namely the purple one in your photo are the air vents for Brisbane Clem 7 Tunnel. Their only purpose is to filter the air through the tunnels and then filter it back into our atmosphere. Puzzle answered.

  4. Pingback: Finished Object: Red Velvet Pillbox Hat « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  5. Pingback: Wearable Work In Progress: Bladvass Dress « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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