Chocs and frocks in the na­tional cap­i­tal

From tan­ta­lis­ing truf­fles to dis­count de­signer pieces, Canberra’s full of great finds

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - STE­FANIE BALOGH

Beaver Gal­leries, Deakin: An art space in Canberra’s med­i­cal Bruno’s Truf­fels, Maw­son: Bruno’s is enough to drive cho­co­holics to dis­trac­tion. There’s no prize for guess­ing what this store, run by Swiss-born Bruno Ehrensperger, spe­cialises in. There are 50 va­ri­eties of melt-in-the-mouth hand­crafted truf­fles in de­li­cious white, milk or dark choco­late, and while the store does a roar­ing trade at Easter and Christ­mas, these chocs are ir­re­sistible any time of year.

The on­site cafe doesn’t of­fer much in the way of at­mos­phere, but the de­li­cious eat-in fare — eclairs, can­noli or a scoop or two of gelato — is dif­fi­cult to pass up.

If you can’t fit in a sweet or savoury with your cof­fee, check out the vast ar­ray of take-home treats, in­clud­ing freshly baked breads and quiches. For home­sick Euro­peans, Ehrensperger stocks the likes of gin­ger­bread houses, aniseed and honey lebkuchen and dres­d­ner stollen.

Your wal­let may be lighter when you leave (the truf­fles are not cheap) and your frame a lit­tle heav­ier, but Bruno’s is one very sweet rea­son to ven­ture out to south-subur­ban Canberra. More: brunos­truf­fels.com.au. Ma­te­rial Plea­sures, Fysh­wick: This spa­cious shop, in Canberra’s in­dus­trial hub, sources and sells last-sea­son or un­wanted new de­signer items. You won’t find castoffs or past crimes against fash­ion here. In­stead, Ma­te­rial Plea­sures re­cy­cles con­tem­po­rary de­signer cloth­ing, of­fer­ing a good cross­sec­tion of high-end pieces, from an ir­re­sistible scar­let Aure­lio Costarella satin evening wrap for $160 and a pow­der-blue Pil­grim jersey dress for $40 to ev­ery­day items such as a David Lawrence char­coal woollen over­coat. The store is well laid out, for ease of fer­ret­ing out de­signer dis­counts. The j um­bled bar­gain bins of many sec­ond-hand stores have been re­placed by racks of cloth­ing, metic­u­lously ar­ranged ac­cord­ing to size, style and type, and all pieces have been cleaned and pressed. The at­mos­phere is so re­laxed it feels as if you’ve been in­vited to browse through a stylish friend’s wardrobe. More: ma­te­ri­alplea­sures.com.au. dis­trict, a stone’s throw from the Royal Aus­tralian Mint, might seem an odd­ity, but for al­most four decades Beaver Gal­leries has been an oa­sis in which to view and buy art.

The pri­vately owned gallery has four well-lit dis­play spa­ces, as well as a peace­ful, fern- lined sculp­ture gar­den, and reg­u­larly pro­motes the work of Aus­tralian artists through its re­volv­ing ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gram.

Beaver is cur­rently show­ing the work of pain­ter Dianne Gall and con­struc­tion artist and sculp­tor Alex Asch, while re­cent exhibitions have fea­tured pieces from glass artist Bren­den Scott French as well as pain­ter and print­maker Belinda Fox.

The gallery’s com­pact size adds to its charm, and The Pal­ette Cafe, which is li­censed, of­fers a com­fort­able place to sit and dis­cuss the works, pon­der a pur­chase or en­joy a deca­dent treat. The gallery shop is well stocked with po­ten­tial sou­venirs cre­ated by lead­ing Aus­tralian artists, in­clud­ing one-off pieces of jew­ellery, ce­ramic vases and hand­crafted wooden items. More: beaver­gal­leries.com.au. Bi­son, Pial­ligo: Bi­son’s lovely stoneware and ce­ramic pieces are sold in Mel­bourne and Sydney but this out­let in Canberra’s or­chard and gar­den­ing sub­urb of Pial­ligo is where it all be­gan. At­tached to the com­pany’s fac­tory, the nonon­sense, con­crete-floored venue has the full Bi­son range on dis­play and, al­though pricey, it’s hard not to be en­ticed by the colours (as evoca­tive as sage, cit­rus and mul­berry). Salad and mix­ing bowls, olive oil con­tain­ers and pitch­ers are hand­crafted and blend mod­ern lines with an old-style feel. Mugs are $28 but the Pial­ligo out­let has a shelf full of sec­onds, sam­ples and dis­count lines where it’s pos­si­ble to bag a real bar­gain. More: bison­home.com. Down Mem­ory Lane, Fysh­wick: An­other gem in in­dus­trial Fysh­wick, this ram­shackle sec­ond-hand and vin­tage store down a dead-end street is ide­ally suited to a leisurely Sun­day-af­ter­noon fos­sick. It’s a step back in time with­out the smell of moth­balls, and fea­tures care­fully ar­ranged cab­i­nets stocked with Royal Al­bert and Wedg­wood china, glass tum­blers, cham­pagne flutes and 70s-style smoked glass.

The pre-loved fash­ion ac­ces­sories are a stand­out, with vel­vet and pill­box hats for $30, or seed pearl and gar­net brooches.

There’s also an ar­ray of Glomesh clutches — just as fash­ion­able now as they were in their hey­day — for $ 40, shelves of books (John le Carre nov­els, fairy­tales, self-help tomes) and rus­tic an­tique chil­dren’s rac­ing cars hang­ing from the beams along­side retro light fit­tings. More: 34 Gee­long St, Fysh­wick; (02) 6228 1048. Ad­dicted to Fab­ric, Phillip: Even if home eco­nom­ics classes put you right off us­ing a sewing ma­chine, this quirky store should not be missed. While Ad­dicted to Fab­ric stocks a vast range of gor­geous fash­ion and patch­work cloth — in­clud­ing vi­brant Ja­panese tex­tiles, classy in­ter­na­tional prints and bright Aus­tralian de­signs — it is so much more than its name sug­gests.

Novices can pick up kits to whip up a tote bag or a set of felt fin­ger pup­pets, while the more ad­ven­tur­ous might stitch a skirt or a patch­work bed­spread from a take-home pack. Classes are of­fered in sub­jects in­clud­ing dress­mak­ing, be­gin­ners’ patch­work and flo­ral ap­plique. There’s a wide ar­ray of ac­ces­sories, such as rib­bons and but­tons (I spy a be­jew­elled ruby and black but­ton that’s larger than a 50c coin, and at $11.25 it’s an in­ex­pen­sive way to up­date that tired old jacket). Kids will love the as­sorted but­tons bin where a colourful scoop, suit­able for any craft project, costs just $4. More: a2f.com.au Fang Cloth­ing, Ainslie: Find­ing edgy, ex­clu­sive fash­ion in cook­iecut­ter Canberra can be a chal­lenge. In the in­ner-north sub­urb of Ainslie, how­ever, this in­de­pen­dent bou­tique caters to those who want to steer clear of uni­for­mity. The store fea­tures pre­dom­i­nantly Aus­tralian-made cloth­ing that has been sourced from up-and­com­ing de­sign­ers in Sydney and Mel­bourne. It also stocks a range of Elk jew­ellery and Polka Luka’s resin de­signs, plus a mod­est se­lec­tion of ba­bies’ and toddlers’ gear. The care­fully cho­sen women’s cloth­ing caters to teenagers and the young at heart, and there’s also of­fice wear, in­clud­ing frocks that look as if they’ve marched straight off the set of Mad Men. Cloth­ing is rea­son­ably priced but tends to­wards smaller sizes. More: 1/13 Edgar St, Ainslie; (02) 6249 1054.

vis­it­can­berra.com.au

in our Se­cret Shop­per se­ries: Ade­laide.

PIC­TURES: RAY STRANGE

Ad­dicted to Fab­ric fea­tures an in­trigu­ing ar­ray of tex­tiles and ac­ces­sories, and also of­fers classes in dress­mak­ing

Bruno’s Truf­fels, left, spe­cialises in hand­crafted choco­lates; the vin­tage store Down Mem­ory Lane is ideal for a leisurely fos­sick

AUS­TRALIAN CAP­I­TAL TOURISM

En­tic­ing ce­ram­ics at Bi­son

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