Robyn and Tony Frost at Habitat Antiques and Gallery present two large and wondrous floor areas of Australia’s most quirky, unusual and unique items. Furniture, collectables, Australiana and contemporary artworks are just some of the amazing items you will find in this amazing treasure trove.
How did Habitat Antiques and Gallery commence?
The business has been running now for more than 20 years. We did have a branch in the Hunter Valley in a state heritage, three-storey, convict-built sandstone flour mill on the New England Highway, but currently we operate from our premises in Central Road, Port Macquarie. We sell locally, interstate and overseas.
Your business is certainly an eclectic mix of the old and new – antiques to contemporary art …
It is an unusual mix – but it’s a business run with passion. A lot of people who purchase 100-year-old furniture do so because they like the beautiful, old real timber species, which you can’t get in most modern furniture. With this wonderful old furniture, we either restore it ourselves as part of our business, or we show people how to do their own restoration.
If people purchase an unrestored piece from us, we give them a free hands-on lesson to show them how to restore it. We don’t use any chemicals in the restoration process, to strip paint for example. After restoration, we normally apply beeswax to all our furniture, except items that may be exposed to water or heat (such as table tops). This gives a lovely, lush finish to the furniture that so many people compliment us on. Ultimately people end up with a piece of furniture that is restored back to its original wonderful, resplendent condition. We also sell all restoration handles, waxes, shellac etc.
What are some of the more unusual items that have passed through your business?
There are so many different things! They vary – from big 14 foot shearers’ tables to wonderful contemporary art from artists such as John Coburn, Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley etc. It depends, too, on each customer. They in turn find things that are unique and unusual to them individually. We get a lot of response from people who’ve bought from us originally, because they come back many times looking for something else unusual and quirky.
Have you ever had requests for your items to be used as props on movie sets or other productions? We constantly have requests for this – it’s definitely a part of our business. We have a lot of film companies who hire from us, and commercial photographers also hire from us. We usually find these people hire from us, rather than buy, unless they plan to reuse the item.
Local and interstate drama groups hire items from us for their productions, and even local and interstate heritage groups and museums often approach us looking for unusual items to put in their displays. The range of items we hire and sell is so broad. We have sculptors coming to us looking for items they specifically want to incorporate into their work. It comes down to personal choice – an eclectic choice that each individual makes depending on the type of film, production or artwork they are trying to create.
Where’s a good place for anyone interested in starting a collection of unusual items or purchasing antiques to start? People should have a wander around our store and if there’s something they particularly like, we’re always happy to discuss it with them and give them some background. Often a chat about a particular item can spark an interest and lead people on a quest to find out more. Most people enjoy wandering and browsing for an hour or so.
We can be contacted on 6581 1644, and we’re open 6 days, from 10.15am.