Crafty business: Court House entices local Christmas spend

By Vanessa Wiltshire

An inconspicuous entrance gives way to what you might expect of a courthouse built in 1863: lofty ceilings and oodles of natural light.

Since its inception in 1994, Heathcote Court House Crafts has made its home in the building, which has architectural and historic significance.

Selling handmade craft on consignment from hundreds of makers from around the district, there's very little you won't find.

Court House Crafts is located adjacent to the City of Greater Bendigo Offices and Heathcote Library; the building is undergoing works to restore the exterior to its original warm stone colour.

Despite the scaffolding — and there's lots of it — it’s business as usual. And the volunteers of Court House Crafts would love nothing more than to welcome you.

“The works have affected passing trade,” Court House Crafts volunteer Christine said.

“But with less than nine weeks to Christmas, we’re starting to notice a pick-up in foot traffic. There's something a bit special about locally made goods".

A visit to Court House Crafts is a little like stepping back in time.

Right down the back, you run the risk of losing half an hour — or more — fossicking among the antiques. There’s enough décor, crockery, even books, to make you feel as if you're living and breathing the past.

With hundreds of items on consignment, Christine said people come from far and wide to shop.

“We certainly have our regulars, particularly for Christmas. There’s a huge amount of knitwear, children's and baby items. They’re lightweight and can be sent interstate or overseas quite easily.”

She added hand-knitted socks are especially popular, as are baby booties.

“No pun intended, but they seem to walk out the door!”

Of everything in the shop, Christine is most proud of the wool. It has its own room and features a large Bendigo Wool collection.

“It’s getting quite rare to find specialist shops like this,” Christine said.

“Court House Crafts is this and more: there's a bit of everything. The women's and girls’ dresses are made locally. Plus there's a wonderful array of fabrics for quilting and dressmaking. There's even a small offering of condiments: jams, honey and free-range eggs. And some jewellery — it's all antique or second hand — and in excellent condition.

“I suppose you could say there's something for everyone. You just have to be careful — it’s difficult to walk out with just one thing.”

She pauses.

“Then try volunteering! I've been here seven years!”

Court House Crafts at 123 High St, Heathcote, is open 9am to 4.30pm, six days a week. Closed Wednesday.

New volunteers are always welcome. Phone 54 333677.