‘Real deal’ Aussie bargain-hunters picking their way to fame and fortune
LUCAS Callaghan (pictured), the co-host of new antiques show Aussie Pickers, has a nose for a bargain. He has spent the past seven years hunting for treasures at auction houses, garage sales and opportunity shops and in people’s backyards, sheds and attics. ‘‘Yesterday, at an auction, I bought a Range Rover door painted by by Aboriginal artist Anthony Hill. It started at $10. It went to $350. It’s worth in the vicinity – in the future – of $3000 to $5000.’’ Like everything the 40-something Sydneysider ‘‘picks’’, it has a story. Take his French chaise longue. After spotting it on the internet, he flew to Byron Bay to buy it and forked out a fortune in extra baggage costs to get it home. ‘‘I paid $500 for it and who knows what it’s worth. I’ve been told it could be worth anywhere between $8000 and $10,000. It was so worth the flight up there. That’s the beauty of the internet.’’ On Aussie Pickers, which airs on Foxtel’s A&E channel, Callaghan and his friend Adam McDonald, wander from Toowoomba to Hobart searching for treasure. Along the way they meet junkyard owners, antique dealers and eccentric collectors and after some enthusiastic wheeling and dealing, the ‘‘pickers’’ end up with items that can be resold for a profit or repurposed, such as an old heater that they turn into a unique lamp. The appeal of Aussie Pickers – and of its inspiration, US show American Pickers, – lies much in the fact that the hosts of both shows are fun, rugged types, as opposed to the stereotypical posh antique dealer. Both reality shows have hosts who are not actors or presenters but the ‘‘real deals’’. Callaghan started his ‘‘picker’’ life after becoming disillusioned with his advertising career that focused on selling ‘‘disposable income products’’. ‘‘I had a son seven years ago and that made me want to have a job where I could create my own existence, where I was my own boss. And I wanted to do something a bit more beneficial for the planet,’’ he says. He started his ‘‘new life’’ by selling all his possessions and then visiting auction houses to buy ‘‘fresh’’ items to furnish his life. He now owns Modern2Vintage store in Paddington, Sydney, and is trying to adjust to the fact that many people now recognise his face. ‘‘If I go to an auction now I’m sure to pay triple of what I’d normally pay because they think ‘he knows something’. ‘‘They think that if I’m bidding on it, then it’s worth something.’’
– LEAH McLENNAN
Aussie Pickers: Thursdays, 7.30pm, Foxtel’s A&E channel.