By: John Westbury - Photos courtesy Tyabb Packing House
I must admit I'm not an antique buff, and while I've heard of folk who have picked up an item at a garage or clearing sale and later found it to be a valuable antique, I probably wouldn't know one if I saw it. And when my dear wife turns the TV to the "Antiques Road Show" I head off to the "man cave" to see what can amuse a mere male.
Although we have lived at Westernport Bay on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula I've never until recently set foot inside a rather amazing place known as the Tyabb Packing House. It was one of those days when we were out for a short drive and my wife suggested we pop in for a look. I had heard it was full of antiques and rather amazing "old things" so I carefully hid my wallet in the car before we went in.
Tyabb Packing House has more than two acres of undercover space and is one of the largest antique and old wares focused locations in Australia. There is free onsite parking (room for caravans / motor homes), a licensed café and specialists in old wares ranging from Victorian to retro. There are over 30 dealers within this complex, all specialists within their fields many of whom have over 40-years experience. The main building was used to store apples and pears grown on the Mornington Peninsula, and from here they were packed and transported to Melbourne and beyond via the Stony Point train line through Frankston. The train line and well kept Tyabb station still remain, and the very comfortable diesel sprinter train runs frequently each day from Frankston to Stony Point stopping at Tyabb. From the station it's a two minute walk to the Tyabb packing house.
So, how did all this start? Well, over 30-years ago Sheila and Gerard Martland joined Tony and Heather Bradbury to create the start of what became the Moorooduc Antique Market, an antique and old wares market based at the Moorooduc Post Office, a site originally started by Tony's father. It was one of the first antique centres to open in Victoria, and many were doubtful it would become a success especially given its location in the middle of Moorooduc, a small part of the Mornington Peninsula. Sometime later Tony and Heather moved to Queensland leaving the Martland's to develop the Moorooduc Antiques Market, and soon after they began to gather several other specialists in a variety of fields, and many of these are now still at Tyabb Packing House. The Martlands worked tirelessly and the antiques market grew and grew attracting many visitors to the Mornington Peninsula.
In 1993 an opportunity arose for the Martlands to expand further by moving to the old Tyabb Co-Op and Coolstores, and what a task this was. When they took ownership the task of what they took on was truly daunting. As a former cool store the building had no emergency exits, unsafe wiring throughout the building, no safety equipment and an accumulation of over 50-years of dust and history within. Is it any wonder that many times throughout the transformation of the building that they threw up their hands saying "what have we done”? During renovation most of the original features were maintained. The original cooling pipes once used to keep the building cool remain, and the floors still have the remains of white guidelines that indicated to farmers where to place their cases of fruit.
It wasn't easy work restoring this building, but following tireless efforts by the Martlands and several helpers the Tyabb Packing House was officially opened by The Hon. Alan Brown, Minister for Transport on September 24th 1993. Now, remember we have told you that the Martlands only took this venture on in 1993, so to complete it all and have it opened in the same year was a fantastic effort.
I had a good look around and was amazed at some things I saw. There are some examples of items relating to caravanning and camping, but I was totally fascinated when I got into the old toys section and it was then I became totally astounded. When I was a very small boy, Christmas was approaching, and because I had been a good boy (well, for some weeks before Christmas anyway) I was given a wind up Hornby train set complete with station, rails and a crossing. I still have that train set which I have carefully kept and looked after all these years (please do not ask how many) and is in mint condition and still works. I was amazed at how much it's worth now, but I shall never part with it and it is to be handed down to grandchildren and hopefully further. I just kept on looking and looking at it until my wife managed to drag me out of the toy section, so I guess things haven't changed that much since childhood.
I also had great pleasure in briefly meeting Mrs. Sheila Martland, a sprightly elderly lady with a very friendly smile. I admire the determination she and her husband had in creating the Tyabb Packing Shed. Tyabb Packing house is located at 14 Mornington-Tyabb Road, Tyabb (or at Tyabb rail station) and is open Thursday to Sunday 10am to 5pm excluding Christmas Day. It is also only a 15-minute drive from BIG4 Frankston where you will enjoy a comfortable stay.
For further details you can contact Tyabb Packing house on (03) 5977 4414 or visit their website: www.tyabbpackinghouseantiques.com.au.
By: John Westbury - February 2012.
The Tyabb Packing House Antiques
Address: 14 Mornington-Tyabb Road, Tyabb, Victoria, Australia 3913
Phone: 03 5977 4414(BH); or: 03 5978 8428(AH)
Melways reference: 148 H10
Other Points of Interest:
Tyabb Packing House Antiques has ample free parking. Entry is free.
Hours of operation:
- Thursday to Sunday: 10am – 5pm
- Public Holidays (excluding Christmas Day): 10am – 5pm
- Anzac Day: 12pm - 5pm