LIVING THE DREAM: No pills or vitamins is one of Peter Hackworth’s secrets to a long life.
LIVING THE DREAM: No pills or vitamins is one of Peter Hackworth’s secrets to a long life.

Peter Hackworth’s rich life of friends, travel and work

At 80 YEARS old, Peter Hackworth says: “I don’t stop,” she said. “Working is good for you.”

Peter (yes, that is the correct spelling, her mother was convinced she was having a boy and stuck to the male version of the name) is the founder/operator of some of Brisbane’s most lively and enduring markets. .

Now known as Brisbane’s First Lady of Markets, Peter is an entrepreneur extraordinaire, a woman way ahead of her time now, just as she was decades ago.

She introduced coffee culture to Brisbane back in a time when most people thought coffee began and ended with a jar of Pablo. As a young 22 year old, she opened restaurants such as a European bistro and jazz club, an American-style diner, two French restaurants and then the Cats Tango restaurant complete with Arabian-themed palm reading, belly dancing and exceptional dining.

Peter, known for her flamboyance and eccentricity, launched her craft and farmers’ markets with the help of artist friends. Her longest running markets including Riverside and Southbank have paved the way for some of Brisbane’s newest such as Kelvin Grove and Boggo Road.

Her markets are not just about buying food, clothing, jewellery and artefacts, they are destinations in themselves – vibrant, colourful places with street performers, musicians, entertainers, children’s activities and an ever-evolving food culture that all brings rich life to a city that is very dear to Peter’s heart.

“The Riverside Market has been going 28 years but has had to move from place to place because of development and construction of buildings. Now it is in the Botanical Gardens and no-one can build anything there.”

The relatively new Eat Street Markets, set on an old disused container wharf with market stalls inside empty containers have been a big success.

“People come with dogs and prams, grandparents come with children, it’s a good family atmosphere,” Peter said.

“They (markets) started because I was contacted by the (local) government first to ask if I would do something to that side of town.

“We negotiated for a couple of years, but it was so windy there, anything would blow in the river. We had to do it with something heavy, so the idea for the containers came. It is the place where the original container ships came in. Containers won’t blow away.

“I took in two friends, Jackie McDonald and John Stainton and we started the markets in containers. It’s been going two and a half years and thousands of people come.”

The wide variety of international food and festive ambience with is trees, fairy lights and music, make the Eat Street Markets a mini phenomenon in a city that is, just like Peter Hackworth herself.

Her formidable energy and positive thinking are infectious. A good night’s sleep after a glass of cognac, an avoidance of doctors, a passion for reading and a zest for life keep Peter Hackworth young at age 80.

“I sleep seven or eight hours solidly,” she said.

“My secret is never to go near doctors. I don’t take pills, don’t take vitamins or anything else. I just use common sense. You can keep your energy up if you have the motivation and the discipline. I don’t have face treatments (Botox, fillers) I buy good (face) cream from one of my marketeers and that’s it. I do have a good hairdresser. You absolutely have to have a good hairdresser.

“And you must never think you are old. I am 80 but I am not old.”


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