The suburb reinventing itself as a creative village

Once a mining town that barely registered a blip on the cultural radar, the lakeside suburb of Teralba is enjoying a renaissance as a creative hub.

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Take a look at an aerial view of Teralba, and its industrial underpinnings are plain to see.

Adjoining the town is a working concrete plant, over the hill to the west sits an enormous quarry, and to the north are the remnants of the former West Wallsend Colliery , which closed in 2016.

But up close at ground level, a vastly different picture emerges.

Just 2km from Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, whose $2.3 million transformation is due for completion in November, the suburb is reinventing itself as a creative village.

A quaint cafe-gallery sits opposite a ‘makers place’ selling works by local artists, as well as upcycled and recycled craft supplies.

Around the corner, an upholsterer works busily in her shop window, stripping down old furniture and giving it new life.

She shares her premises with a candle-maker, whose wares dot their freshly painted store.

For people who live and work here, this new turn in Teralba’s story is creating a sense of pride and community.

For visitors, it’s establishing a destination far removed from the suburban shopping centres that put most places like this to rest a long time ago.

Check out some of the highlights below.

Flying Spanners café and gallery

7 Anzac Parade

Artist Rebecca Murray and husband Grahame Wilson established Flying Spanners nine years ago. More recently, they added a quirky cafe at the front of the building to cater to visitors stopping by for a look around.

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Expect fresh coffee, home-made treats and an eclectic collection of art – much of it by Rebecca, whose paintings and drawings adorn the walls, and Grahame, whose sculptures feature throughout.

The artworks don’t just provide interesting talking points over a cappuccino … most of them are also for sale.

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“It has been a gradual build-up, but the atmosphere here lends itself very well to that creative vibe,” Rebecca says.

People are definitely starting to treat Teralba as a destination. There are more and more people coming up from Sydney and those areas, and we’re also seeing an increasing number of people from Newcastle’s outer suburbs.”

Wasted Knot

38 York Street

Julie Quinlivan started sewing when she was 12, but switched to upholstering after deciding her own couch needed a revamp.

“I pulled it apart and put it back together and it sort of went from there,” she says.

Days are spent wielding traditional tools and methods to revive a dizzying array of antique and reproduction furniture, with the entire process taking place at the front of the store in full public view.

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“There are very, very few villages like Teralba left,” Julie says.

“We want to be known as a creative village where you can go and have a coffee, have a look at a gallery and buy some unique items.”

“There is definitely that feel that it’s about having something a little bit different and a bit more sustainable than what you’ll get in a regular shopping centre.”

The Makers Place

8 Anzac Parade

Housed in the old Frith’s department store building, The Makers Place has myriad works for sale from local artists, sculptors and craftspeople.

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But there’s much more here than art. Part of the building is dedicated to workshops and classes (check out the free art and craft open days on the first Saturday of each month), while a generous portion is filled with an array of upcycled, recycled and reimagined craft supplies.

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Expect to walk in looking for one thing, and walk out an hour later after much fossicking and a friendly chat with passionate owners Chris and Chris Hardwick with an armful of other stuff.

Love Farmhouse Style

38 York Street

Sharing Wasted Knot’s premises, local artist Deb Douglas showcases a collection of her own work, as well as an array of homewares and gifts, including stunning cotton wreaths.

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Deb also makes her own soy wax candles, sold on-site and dotted around the newly renovated shop-front, and hosts on-site small group workshops, including painting, furniture decorating and wreath-making.

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Bibi’s Bazaar

8 Anzac Parade

This old-school emporium is the perfect place to go searching for second-hand treasures.

Among the goods on offer from owner Kim Boyd are racks of vintage clothes, shelves full of ornaments and curiosities, and stacks of toys, books and board games.

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A 1960s-era edition of Mouse Trap and a rare Mork and Mindy game were among the collectibles spied on our visit, but a steady flow of items means there’s always something new to discover.

Kim says it’s great to see Teralba starting to “buzz” once again.

“It has really come alive,” she says.

“The feedback is always really positive about the atmosphere here – it’s just that laid-back feel.”