Retail shopping isn’t high on the list of activities we indulge in. We tend to shop for food and little else. But when a shop is highly recommended by locals as a must-see, we decide to visit. Entering Reliquaire in Latrobe, northern Tasmania is akin to discovering the cave of delights from 1001 Arabian nights.

Think dark rooms packed with treasures: toys, gadgets, clothes, whimsical objects and useful household tools. Imagine child-sized dolls with rabbit faces in ballroom gowns, marionettes hanging from the ceiling, extravagant costumes on racks, wall-to-ceiling cookbooks and fresh fudge on offer.

Before we we pushed through the narrow doors of a hotel built in the late 1800s, we had to pass the guardians of Reliquaire — whimsical statues that stand outside the building and sit in the corners of the covered porch.

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Emily Christie gave me permission to take photographs within the shop, and I’m delighted to share them with you. They’re inadequate, however, to portray the wonder and delight of wandering through the 20 rooms that house an ever-changing diversity of wares. Any visitor to Tasmania should make the trip to this shop to see Reliquaire for themselves.

Once inside, a staff member offers fresh fudge to the visitors who come through the door. We’re also offered a map of the premises. On Saturdays, the staff dress up in head-to-toe costumes, which — although it sounds mad — is entirely fitting with the extravagant atmosphere within the shop.

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire’s fudge is definitely their best-selling item, probably because almost everyone who comes through the door samples it. I declined for our family, simply so our girls would have a more moderate energy level as they explored the huge toy store.

Have a look around with us.

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Reliquaire, Latrobe, Tasmania, January 2013

Our girls enjoyed the two hours we spent browsing through Reliquaire’s treasures. In the end, we each took away a present — Dell chose a dinosaur, Calista a ballarina, Brioni a bubble-gun, Aisha some finger-puppets, I selected bird-clips to seal plastic bags and a paper-airplane-kit for David.

Thank you so much to the friendly owners and staff of Reliquaire for welcoming us in their delightful shop. If you’d like to see more, Reliquaire maintains an online store. I’m so glad we saw this in person; we’re already looking forward to visiting it again!