Experiences

Unique boutique retail stores to explore next time you're in Dungog

On our recent visit to Dungog, we were pleasantly surprised to find this little town had quite the collection of unique shops to keep you busy browsing. Whether you’re planning a weekend away or just a day trip, these shops are our go-to in Dungog.

At Yia Yia’s

Here we were met with a familiar face - Maria the owner of At Yia Yia’s is a previous Novocastrian who had traded life by the beach to life in the country. Her warm and welcoming manner is well suited to the community spirit that is wholly evident here in Dugog and Maria happily assisted her store visitors whilst juggling chatting to the locals. All part of that country town charm.

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Channeling her instinctive love for all things design and homewares, At Yia Yia’s is a French country-inspired homewares shop. Although petite, it boasts an eclectic blend of crockery, french glassware, linen, cane baskets, and more.

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We loved the Yia Yia’s scented candles which were a lovely way of commemorating a trip to Dungog. And the french branded soap and glassware with little bees adorned on them were also a favourite.

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Where: 222 Dowling St
When: Mon | 10am-3.30pm
Tue | closed
Wed-Sun | 10am-3.30pm
More Info: click here

Billie & Grace

This cute little store sells children’s clothing, accessories, and other bits and bobs. Most of the wares are homemade with love by the special owner Andrea, and her mother Annette. In fact, it’s not just the mother and daughter who have a love for turning a piece of fabric into something special, but this passion was passed down by Andrea’s Great Great Aunt Billie and her Great Nana Grace...yes I know you see what’s going on here, Bille & Grace - a great great way to honour these special people.

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The shop is a wonderful display of the goods that Andrea lovingly makes. There is a range of newborn clothes, and kid's clothes up to size 12 crafted in a mix of bright colours, patterns, Australiana prints, and simple neutrals. There are also hats, bonnets, shoes, art smocks, and playmats available, among other things.

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Billie & Grace’s clothes are primarily made from natural fibres which speaks to their slow and environmentally friendly approach to fashion. Billie & Grace items are available to be purchased in-store or online. 

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Where: 137 Dowling St
When:Mon-Sat | 10am-3pm
Sun | 10am-1pm
More Info: click here

Sassafras

In the same location as Bille & Grace, Sassafras is the creation of Sharon who has personally curated a unique collection of children's toys.

Sharon has a background in education and behaviour and so her appreciation for open-ended play and the joy and contentment that special toys and activities can bring to children led her to create this special space for kids and carers alike. The toys range from beautiful wooden puzzles, to carefully selected books and crafted toys using mostly natural materials.

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You will also find many items from local suppliers such as the handmade wooden puzzles from Lake Macquarie and the bug catchers made at the local Dungog Men’s Shed. It really adds a special touch to a gift when you know you are supporting locals.

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The Bille & Grace and Sassafras store have a little kids' nook with puzzles and unique toys to keep the kids entertained whilst you enjoy a browse. And if you are shopping for a gift ask the girls to wrap it - the last beautiful touch to a wonderful experience when shopping here.

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Where: 137 Dowling St
When: Mon-Sat | 10am-3pm
Sun | 10am-1pm
More Info: click here

Chic & Antique

Straight across the road from The Magpie and At Yia Yia’s is one of the oldest original buildings in Dungog, hosting Chic & Antique, a sustainably focused fashion store.

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The store’s founder Chrissy has very carefully selected a range of clothing that primarily uses high-quality natural fibres such as linen, cotton, and wool. You will see brands such as Talia Benson, Little Lies, and MegByDesign, a sustainable label from the Byron Bay Hinterlands - one of our favourites in-store. Many of the items available are great for layering and Chrissy, with the help of the lovely Jo-Anne, were all too happy to help us pick out something that suited (all with a few jokes thrown in to keep our visit entertaining).

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There are also accessories such as jewelry, shoes, socks, and tights, and other items such as toiletry bags, leather bags and hats.

So where does the antique come into Chic & Antique? On one side of the store, you will find lovingly restored furnishings from tables, chairs, sideboards, and benches all lovingly restored by Chrissy's husband Greg, and her Father-in-law, Lionel. Another example of locally made goods available in Dungog.

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Where: 221 Dowling St
When: Mon-Sun | 9am-3pm
More Info: click here

Country Elegance Gardens and Gifts

Located just a 2 min drive from Dowling Street (or 18min walk if you feel like savouring the country town sights) is the local nursery in Dungog. But a nursery would be underselling it - Country Elegance Gardens and Gifts, as the name suggests, also does a range of plant and home-related gifts.

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With a coffee cart on-site, it’s the perfect stop for a morning coffee and a stroll through the gift shop which features an extensive range of unique pots, cushions, candles, and gardening accessories among other nick nacks.

Janice and the team are extremely helpful and friendly - more than happy to chat to you about your gardening needs or how to save that, what was once a lovely, potted plant back from sure demise.

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Where: 103 Hooke St
When: Mon-Fri | 8.30am-5pm
Sat | 9am-4pm
Sun | 10am-2pm
More Info: click here

Hive and Gobbler

At the back of Chic and Antique, accessible down the middle hallway of the building or via the gates down the laneways on either side, is a little patch of creative heaven. Hive and Gobbler is a hub for creativity, slow living, and sustainability ideas.

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The wife and husband team, Bronwen and Michael, started the shop after a tree change to the Dungog Region landed them a working Alpaca Farm. The wool from such a farm wasn’t easily prepared for sale so they wanted to create a space for not just their wool but many kinds of natural fibres and a space for local artists and creators to sell their goods and inspire other interested creative types.

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Hive and Gobbler is certainly this - there is a whole room dedicated to natural fibres in their different states. They also sell products for other creative endeavours such as knitting, weaving, and sewing. They are passionate about supporting Australian-made products that are locally artisan-made and plastic-free. And you can also find growing and making kits such as bread, soap, and cheese.

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If you would like a little help, there are also a range of workshops for individuals or private groups on offer across a range of slow living pursuits including traditional bread-making, fibre arts, ceramics, homemade soap, beekeeping, and natural dyeing.

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Out the back of the store is a large space available to be booked for private functions and creative workshops for groups that overlook the beautiful hills of Dungog. Feel free to grab some lunch, or let the kids run around and get creating in this beautiful setting!

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Where: 221 Dowling St (rear of shop)
When: Mon-Sun | 10am-3pm
More Info: click here

The Magpie

A last-minute find, hidden plainly on the main street of Dowling - The Magpie was one of my favourites. In this little shop, Liz the owner shows us through some of the wonderful eclectic stock she offers. From vintage items, interesting books, fairtrade woven baskets and bags, jewellery (including the Hunter's own Rancho Designs), homewares, Avarcas shoes, Lazybones clothing and accessories, and handmade soaps; this is one little shop in which you will be hard-pressed to leave empty-handed.

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Keep your eyes peeled too for a few Magpie-inspired items as a tip of the hat to the name of this place - like beautiful books and paintings from local artists.

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Liz also has a small selection of pre-loved clothing on consignment. It was here we spied two little treasures - a Ralph Lauren Polo Blazer, in fantastic condition worth $900 brand new but a bargain for someone at $200. We both tried it on but had to remind ourselves we were here for work! There were also a pair of custom-made R M Williams, well below their brand new price point. A little treasure trove of goods that will continue to evolve no doubt.  

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Where: 220 Dowling St
When: Mon-Tues | closed
Wed-Sat | 10am-4pm
Sun | 10am-3pm (only open some Sundays)
More Info: Facebook / Instagram 

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