On the second Sunday of the month, a sleepy village in northern NSW comes alive with an extraordinary selection of hand-made or home-grown artisan items. The Channon craft market is legendary for the eclectic range or products on show and makes a terrific weekend outing for anyone living within a two-hour radius (which includes the Gold Coast and Brisbane).

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
First established in 1978 as a "Make it, Bake it, Grow it" market, the stallholders are still predominantly those with hand-made or home-grown items.

I’ve been hearing about The Channon markets ever since we first started fulltime travelling in 2010. We haven’t been in the region at the right time until today, and I was interested to see how such a long-standing affair is operated, especially in contrast to other, smaller markets the one like at Nimbin.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
By noon, the adjoining paddocks are filled with visitors' cars. A $2 parking fee covers the cost of leasing the privately-owned parking space from the neighbours and pays for over a dozen local workers who keep the market tidy and well-run.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
The stalls are situated around the perimeter of the oval of Coronation Park.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Pony rides take children across the oval and back again.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Each market-day, a different local charity sells food from the official concession stand.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
The busy playground precinct is ringed by families sitting on blankets, resting from the shopping and catching up with friends.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Visitors to the markets are both local residents and out-of-towners. It takes about an hour and a half to travel to The Channon from the Gold Coast, making it a great outing for city-folk.

Many of the stallholders have been participating in these markets for years. The non-profit market organisation held to a strict “Make, Bake or Grow It” policy until 2012 when they started allowing stall-holders to sell some goods other than what they had made, providing that the non-handmade/home-grown component was less than 25% of the stall’s stock on offer. A few stalls offer second-hand products, but the majority of them showcase the region’s wonderful artistic talent. Have a look.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Felted creations unlike any we've seen elsewhere.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Hand-made timber items.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Hand-spun wool (with more on the way).

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Fresh juice while-you-wait.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Custom ceramics (orders taken for special requests).

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Innovative, beautiful products — like these mosquito-coil holders.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Products on display from the tray of a custom Vee-Dub.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Hanging plants with a twist.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Handicrafts of all varieties.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Bags and hats made from recycled truck tarpaulins.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Food stalls set up in the shade.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
An eclectic mix of music from buskers.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Face-painting for all ages.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
A trailer-load of sugarcane is slowly mulched into sweet juice.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Bonsai for sale with the expert grower on hand for personal advice.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
Spray-free fruit and vegies direct from the producers.

After 3pm, the market starts packing down, and the crowds subside. Those who’ve driven here from the city for the day get back in their cars and make their way home. And that’s when the locals come out to play, with a drum circle that sets a beat which entices others to dance until whole families are playing and dancing around the rainbow tent.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
An informal drum circle provides the focal point for the free dancing.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
A brass/wind trio adds random snatches of melody.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
An improvised percussion set adds depth.

The Channon Craft Markets, second Sunday of the month, The Channon, northern NSW, August 2014
The drummers will continue until it gets too dark.

I knew that The Channon markets were exceptional with the quality and variety of hand-made goods, but I didn’t expect the atmosphere of the drum circle at the end. Children danced alongside their parents, drummers took turns on the skins, everyone was laughing and smiling. Perhaps a visit to The Channon markets is worth it just for this — free entertainment where your enjoyment is limited only by your own inhibitions!

Super moon in the trees, August 2014
As the Super Moon rises above the trees, the drumming dies off and the last players take their djembes home. The oval falls quiet — for another month at least — and the village returns to its slumber.

The Channon craft markets are next open on September 14, but you can keep track of the dates here. If you’re inclined to enjoy shopping for something different, it’s a great place to come. Otherwise come for the fun atmosphere and free dance-party in the afternoon — you won’t regret the experience!