Anyone needing a dose of inspiration – or even just a reminder that creativity can solve almost any problem – would enjoy meeting Bernie Kreet.
Nowadays, chances are that meeting would take place under a large maple tree on the site of the old nursery at 2 Edward Road, the waters of Batehaven lapping nearby. In this village by the sea, just three kilometres south of Batemans Bay, Edward Road Marketplace is bringing a touch of creative cool to the small village.
The bohemian-feel pop up site, which only opened in August, has already been discovered by local parents, looking for an outdoors venue for coffee and chat. While there; buy local fruit, vegetables, honey and coffee from the onsite F&V market; enjoy a meal served from the Citroen that Bernie has turned into a stylish food van; or check out the antique store on site, a trove for retro knick knacks.
There’s also The Market Gallery: a collaborative of 8 local artists each holding an equal share as stallholders. Housed in one of the three Hamptons style buildings on the site, all work displayed is local, with the artist finding inspiration in the Eurobodalla’s coastal and inland experiences. (The Gallery is also the start of an artistic art trail that stretches from Batehaven down the coast through Coastal Vintage in Sunshine Bay to The Gallery in Mogo and beyond.)
While Bernie has long harboured the desire to bring the region’s creatives together, he is as surprised as anyone to have launched a new venture in the middle of a pandemic.
“I bought the old nursery here about eight years ago. A few years ago I lost my tenant, and had been trying to figure out what to do with the site,” he says.
Bernie had spent sixteen years running the catering at Club Catalina (at the Golf Club) and when his contract came up for renewal, he decided to make a change and finally “do” something with his unused nursery site.
The timing proved to be perfect, particularly as diners are now looking for outdoor options. Kreets has reopened his nursery, but says purchasing plants here is more like walking through someone’s garden than standing in a traditional nursery.
“Post COVID people want to be outdoors – this feels outdoors as essentially it is garden dining in the middle of the nursery,” he says.
The collective of business owners Bernie has invited to be part of the pop up venture means the final experience is almost a cooperative.
“It’s eclectic. There are five different people with businesses in here at the moment, and we each create our own energy. That would be hard for me to do on my own,” he says.
That energy means there are often bands playing at the twice weekly ‘mini markets’ (Thursdays and Saturdays), the fire pit is used on the grassed area over winter, and Bernie is already planning twilight markets and music across summer.
But while the shade of the site’s huge maple tree will remain a meeting place for coffee drinkers to gather as summer heats up, Bernie says he’s expecting that the pop up site itself will often look different, as he has deliberately created an environment where the micro businesses on site are not tied into long leases, partly in order to encourage experimentation.
“It’s a place that’s evolving. We are only two months old; in six months time it will look different again,” he says.