Put your feet up and chill at the UPmarket.
While Castle Hill is generally known by outsiders for their shopping centre, Castle Towers, and their cafes scattered throughout, a lesser known gem may be the Hills District Pony Club which has been running for 50 years. It is located near the Castle Hill Showgrounds and the Hills Basketball Stadium. The Pony Club teaches equestrian sports and holds rallies every month on their beautiful grounds. They also lease out their grounds and facilities to organisations and events. One such event that utilises the vast space and lush greens of the Pony Club is The Hills UPmarket.
The drive to the Pony Club was very pleasant, but the dirt road leading to the market was quite narrow and bumpy making it slightly perilous for my small car as I tried to navigate between two rows of parked cars and making way for the cars coming the opposite way. Once we got past the road, there was ample ground for parking, but they were already filled up despite it only being 10 am. However, there were many cars leaving already and so it wasn’t too difficult to find a convenient spot.
The descriptions and reviews of the markets claimed The Hills UPmarket was an intimate place for families and friends to catch up and I was surprised that this was indeed an apt description. All the stalls were situated in a circle creating a closed, intimate space with seating and tables provided around the food and coffee stalls. There was also live entertainment with acoustic singers and even an ethnic dance performance. The atmosphere was very friendly, cosy, and inviting as my friend and I milled around the stalls. The market is also dog-friendly so get ready to coo over the many dogs that you’ll see.
Although The Hills UPmarket did not have amusement rides to entertain the children, there was a plaster painting stalls that many children were engaged in. Because it was an enclosed space instead of in an open street mall like the Sydney Boutique Markets at Rouse Hill, it did seem like a safer area for children and the lush grass allowed several children to run around and show off their cartwheels.
The stalls ranged from homemade crafts to lovingly crafted foods and drinks. A family could spend a good two to three hours here perusing the stalls, appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry, and experience the different ethnic foods. However, it is also very easy to navigate if you only wanted to spend a maximum of one hour, picking and choosing the exact stalls that suit your fancy.
If baby goods are what you’re after, Foxes Hill sells all things cute and baby. Larn Nicholson handmakes adorable bibs, cloth nappies, dolls and toys for kids, and even milestone cards for those who want their babies to be Instafamous. She even has decorations to keep your children’s rooms colourful and trendy. Larn travels around different markets but she also sells her products online and if you follow her Instagram page (@foxeshill) you’ll know when and where she’s selling in person or when she has awesome sales on her website!
Perhaps you would like to expand your collection of sock monkeys, or even introduce them to the next generation of children? TamCreative has a display of a wide variety of sock monkeys, all handmade and unique. Even as I walked up to the stall, Tamasine was stuffing the leg of a fresh sock monkey. Apart from sock monkeys, Tamasine also makes colourful paper crane mobiles which make an elegant touch of colour and design to add to your home. You can find her on Instagram (@tamcreative1) to get updated on her next market appearance.
The Petite Posy Shoppe is a Winston Hills based florist which supplies beautiful and classic style bouquets all fresh from the markets available for delivery for any occasion. They have a unique idea of delivering posies in petite glass jars that are not too extravagant or will cost a fortune but special enough for a gift to a loved one or even yourself. It’s awesome to know of a unique and passionate florist within the local area! You can find them online at www.thepetiteposyshoppe.com or on Instagram and Facebook; they deliver within the Hills district, Blacktown and Parramatta.
Pros and Cons
While many of the stalls seemed to be EFTPOS friendly, some of them only accept cash and there are no ATMs available, so make sure you bring some cash with you. I would also recommend bringing your own bags as from July, 2018, The Hills Upmarket will be supporting the “bring your own bag” movement.
While there is plenty of parking spots, the road is quite narrow and it can get very tight and tricky manoeuvring your car in and out of the Pony Club.
It was a great experience with many local stalls showcasing their handmade and custom products, delicious foods and drinks, and if is definitely a place where friends and family can gather for an intimate and fun catch up. I would recommend it for families looking for some fresh air and fresh food.
Address: The Pony Club, Gilbert Rd (Showground Rd end), Castle Hill NSW, 2154
4th Sunday of every month | 8:30am-3pm