HIDDEN TREASURE: The annual Spencer Cup Riverside Markets bring this often overlooked but picturesque little town back to public attention with an old-fashioned country fete-style event.
HIDDEN TREASURE: The annual Spencer Cup Riverside Markets bring this often overlooked but picturesque little town back to public attention with an old-fashioned country fete-style event.

A trip to a secret riverside market place

ONCE a year, the residents of Spencer share their gem with the rest of the Central Coast at the Spencer Cup Riverside Markets.

This year the markets, the town's biggest fundraiser, are on Sunday, January 27 and Spencer Community Progress Group secretary Catherine Wade said the old-fashioned country fete-style event had plenty to interest Seniors.

"I call it quaint and quirky," she laughed.

Catherine said the regatta which gave the markets their "Cup" name is no more due to the rising costs of insurance, but the title has stayed in hopes of the race being resurrected one day.

Meanwhile, the riverside markets feature local arts, crafts, fresh produce and plants, antiques, a community garage sale, a display by the Wisemans Ferry Men's Shed, a live band, rubber duck and mud crab races and lots of raffles.

Check out some of the historic buildings in town, including the Heritage-listed school and church, and a sandstone cottage dating back to the 1840s, or you might just relax by the river with a picnic, be tempted by the goodies from local chefs, or enjoy the shade of the Dunkirk Hotel tree - the local meeting spot.

Now, if you're not sure where Spencer is, Catherine says you won't be alone, but to her and about 300 others, the town on the picturesque bank of Mangrove Creek and the Hawkesbury River is not just home but the best place on the Coast.

"It's one of the most historic and beautiful places on the Coast, in Australia in fact," she said.

"It's untouched and unique.''

"The sandstone cliffs change with the sunset making a ribbon of colours; you can watch a wedge tail eagle fly past and, to be honest, you couldn't find more welcoming people."

Catherine said most of the town's population is now over 50; many have lived there all their lives, and it's a bit like stepping back in time to a period when everyone looked out for each other.

"We're really considered a remote area - everyone's on septic tanks and tank water," she said.

That's one win the progress group has had this year, with Central Coast Council promising a new public wharf, but Catherine said the foreshore still badly needed upgraded, including picnic facilities.

Most of the funds raised from the markets each year go to the upkeep of the community hall, the town's unofficial evacuation centre and the lifeblood of the community where movie nights, barn dances, Christmas in July and other celebrations are held.

The markets run from 10am-3pm, so take the 45-minute mountain road from Gosford which classic car buffs and motorcyclists so adore, and check it out.

To find out more, phone Catherine on 0414 769 993.


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