The Travelling Merchants Of Coolamon

October 10, 2012 1 Comment


Life can be so perfectly random. Since the start of Spring, we had been looking for a nice spot to set up and take a few pictures for our website home page. Weather and circumstances delayed the process but it was worth the wait, because in Coolamon, New South Wales, we stumbled upon a real gem of a place.  Here is the little story about the location of our photo shoot. 

Our camper van rolled into Coolamon, New South Wales co-incidentally in time for the annual Scarecrow Festival, on the last day of September 2012. We found out about the event reading a notice pinned to a shop front window, on our initial wander of the town. We registered to have a stall  and set up shop under the main street verandahs.

Scarecrows waiting to be judged 

We met a group of three travelling sisters, who make ridiculously cute porcelain dolls. They had an exhibition at the Up To Date Store, in town.  The Up To Date Store, is not really up to date. It is an old merchant store built in 1909. It has been preserved by the local community and shire council as a cultural facility and museum. 

Avonleigh Dolls

Grand old counters 

Back in the day the store was divided into several different departments, which included grocery, ironmongery, crockery, drapery, millinery, haberdashery, clothing and footwear. The story goes that anything and everything, from a plough to a piano could be purchased from the Up-To-Date Store.  All the original fittings, counters and shelves are in tact and you can wander around the old millinery and footwear rooms. 

The Up To Date Store 2012


Back in the day

It is the only place in the world you will find a Lamson gravity operated cash railway, still in its original shop setting.

The Lamson 

The system was a secure way of moving cash in large stores to a central account office. Counter staff would place cash and a note describing the purchase inside a ball. The ball is raised up to the roof and rolls down the railway track to the cashier office. The cashier then places any change and the receipt  back in the ball and rolls it back down the front, where it is given to the customer. We were given a demonstration. The ball travels pretty fast down the tracks. It seems complicated but at the time of its installation, the Lamson Cash Carrier was the latest technology.

The whole building feels wonderfully historic and grand. The wooden counters and shelves have scratches and imprints from years of use. After spending some time in the store with the travelling sisters (I was learning how to crochet), I thought it would be marvelous to have some of our products displayed. Even if just for a moment we could feel part of the history of this old merchant store. We came back the next day, set up in a corner and took our photos. A few of these now feature on our home page website, slide show.

Forest Floor Earrings made with recycled leather and gold vermeil 

A number of old advertisements for the store were on display. Using these as inspiration, this is what a Bridget Bunchy ad would have looked like in Coolamon, 1920. 


I am glad we found our way to Coolamon and discovered The Up To Date Store. The start of our Spring Collection is now available online. Every week we travel to new places, discover more textiles and make new things. We will be building on our collection for the rest of the season. We hope you love it as much as we do.


1 Response


October 10, 2012

Fantastic! Believe it or not Gary worked with a similar cashier system in an old fashioned department store in Sydney in the mid 60’s . Charters Towers still had an operational one in the 80’s! Perfect setting for Bridget Bunchy. Just loved reading this and the photos are great I could almost smell the sawdust on the floor and the lemon polish! Keep it up we love travelling through you- so to speak..

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