Newcastle has a few things popping up on every corner: Espresso Bars & Small Bars... And Art Galleries! Some of them appear to be rooted in peoples want to create a place to "Work" which is really more about where they want to hang out every day. But there are other galleries like 139 that are clearly passionate about art, local creativity... And... much more importantly... They understand what it takes.

It takes creating something special, reasons to visit the gallery, interacting with the community and being a part of the scene you want to visit your space rather than just "Create it and they will come" that often takes place. Gallery 139

Place: Gallery 139 Address: 139 Beaumont Street Hamilton, NSW Hours: Wed-Fri  10-5 & Sat 10-2

Why We Love it: Who doesn't love a Gallery Dog? Coco Mo is this gorgeous little guard dog happy to greet customers at the door. Coco MoPlus Ahn is amazing too. Stop by for a chat, look around the incredible walls, find out about up-coming exhibitions as well as a fantastic resource of local information. Put the top-end of Beaumont street on your monthly visit route and stop by. You won't regret it.

60 seconds with... Blackbird Corner by Kian West

If you've ever been to the small chinese food cookery (Amazing Noodle) on Darby Street at 2AM after drinking one hundred brandy lime & Sodas at the del of a Saturday Evening (like me), then you've probably seen Blackbird Corner in the moonlight. Well, if you liked it then - You'll love it when it's open for business. I grabbed long time Mirage supporter/master proprietor Nici for a "chinwag" about shopping local this Christmas...

With Nici Blackbird

By Kian West


Here at Mirage we have been big fans of Blackbird Corner since, well, forever it feels, totally stoked with the support you have given us Nici, being a stockist of Mirage since pretty much the beginning and a huge supporter of local artists and business, but for those that don’t know what Blackbird corner is all about can you tell readers where you are located and a bit of a rundown on what is inside?

1 Sean-Nici-and-Pepper-Puppy

Thanks Mirage! We love stocking you. It’s sweet of you to invite us for a chinwag!

We are on the corner of Darby Street & Queen Street – Cooks Hill Books wraps around us like a hug (their entrance is on Queen Street these days.)

Inside you’ll find an eclectic mix of things that we love: Tees for hims, hers & littlies all hand printed by us next door. You’ll also find clothing hand sewn by my Sister Jen (who started this little shop with us over 8 years ago!); an ever expanding range of other wares & wears designed and made by family & friends from all over Australia plus indy magazines & zines and lomography cameras and lowbrow art books from San Francisco. Sorry. It’s too hard to sum us up in a sentence! Or two! Basically we do our best to stock items you won’t find elsewhere in Newcastle!5 mfm-cuckoo


As followers of your instagram, we noticed that you appear to hand create a bit of product as well, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Sure! That’s pretty much what we do with our “time off” ie when we aren’t in the physical shop! My husband Sean designs and hand prints his own range of tees (and tea towels and bags and cards etc) for all ages - under the name Anorak® - exclusively for Blackbird Corner. My Sister Jen & I design and produce our own range of clothing and earrings for women called My Fascist Mother. It’s immensely satisfying. Also note that I’m completely addicted to social media.

When did Blackbird corner open and when did you really feel like you had settled in to this adorable little Darby Street Location?

Way back in 2006 my Sister Jen & I opened this shop that Sean and I now own and run. But Darby Street has always been home as our Mother co-owns Cooks Hill Books which turns 30 years old next year! In another life we were actually the first clothing shop on the street under the name Spinster Wares. It was a very different street then! When Blackbird Corner first opened it was so different to how it is now – almost unrecognizably so! These days we are almost overflowing with amazing stock whereas when we first opened it was very ummmmm spacious. We get bored very easily so are always evolving & changing when we see the opportunity to do so.

6 blackbird-counter




I’ve noticed a fair few posts pushing fans to “shop local” which is pretty close to the hearts of Newcastle Mirage also, personally I make a real effort to check out and support local people in Newcastle as much as possible, do you think as a city we carry this ethos quite yet?

You’ve seen my hashtags then huh!

#keeprealshopsopenyeah #bricksandmortar #independentretailersrock

I do love a good hashtag or ten! Probably drives people nuts!

In answer to your question - yes I really think so! Newcastle definitely punches well above her weight with the amazing array of independently owned shops all over our “CBD”. Our Customers are an amazingly loyal bunch, and are really aware of what they’re buying and it’s origins. Darby Street is a particularly good example of the whole Shop Local message I think. Usually the person behind the counter either owns the store or makes something that’s for sale in it along this strip. That’s why we LOVE that Blackbird is on Darby Street. That being said I’ll always let visitors to our City know about the other nearby precincts where I know they’ll find great shops too! Tourists come here because we are a unique city that has it all!


We are also catching up with Kylie from Mae Laine Bath Tea Bags, one of the many amazing local products you stock, are there any other local products you stock that you would suggest everyone should come in and check out?

Kylie is a simply amazing woman, we do love stocking Mae Laine Bath Tea Bags – until I met her I hadn’t heard of such a thing and now they sell like hotcakes! She has her own regulars! OK I’ll just pick a couple…The Anorak & My Fascist Mother ranges are something that you should definitely pop in and check out (not prejudiced at all of course) and we have a great range of postcards & prints by Sarah Mould & Grant Hunter plus we recently started stocking 2hoursnorth zine. HexSix (my Sister Jen) stained glass will have some lovely pieces in shortly for Chrissy decorations. And all of my other makers/friends from allover Australia will be sending me a crazy amount of gorgeousness in the weeks leading up until Xmas.



Is there anything else Mirage readers should know?

After 8 years of being closed Mondays we are now open 7 days a week….oh and if you see something in store that you’d like to buy for a Chrissy gift (or for yourself!) be fast. Most of the handmade wares we stock are limited runs or one-offs and may not be here next time you come in! We get that a lot. And we don’t “do” pushy sales in here so may not say it aloud to you. Ha! So much for 60 seconds with Blackbird Corner. Can you sense my enthusiasm?a looking-out-from-within

60 Seconds with… Blane St. Vintage Newcastle by Kian West


60 Seconds with… Blane St.Vintage Newcastle

With Lisa and Michelle

 (Lisa on the left, Michelle on the right in image)

By Kian West


So Lisa & Michelle, for those that don’t know anything about either of you, tell us a little something about yourselves?


M- Lisa and I have been friends for about 15 years. We grew up together in Port Macquarie and moved to Newcastle after high school. We lived here for a few years before both moving away. I completed a degree in Occupational Therapy at Sydney Uni and moved back to Newcastle a year ago with my husband.


L- I have always moved around a lot both growing up and after school. I was lucky enough to spend a few years in the UK where I fell in love with Vintage clothing. In the past I have only spent a few years in one place before moving on, but there is something about Newcastle that captivated me, and both Michelle and I now consider this little city our home.


Where did the idea for Blane St. Vintage come from and what’s it all about?

M & L- We both love vintage clothing and enjoy nothing more then spending a Saturday afternoon trawling around vintage and Op shops. We thought why not turn this passion into something that we could potentially do as a job.

The concept of Blane St. came from our love of vintage clothing and Newcastle. Blane St is the original name of Hunter St. so it was the perfect name for our store as it reflects the heritage of Newcastle. In a nutshell we are all about promoting beautiful Newcastle, great vintage, and just loving what we do.


And what is the goal for Blane St.Vintage?


Currently we are still starting out and recently did our first Hunt and Gather Market. Our short term goal is to continue to do markets and get Blane St. as much exposure as possible.

Long term we would love our own little boutique vintage store on Hunter St where we can spend our days surrounded by beautiful vintage things.


Who is your biggest inspiration in life?

M- My biggest inspiration would be my husband and my parents. They taught me to work hard and do what makes me happy.


L- For me it would have to be my mum and dad. They completely support any decision I make without question and taught me to laugh when things don’t go my way.


M& L- Thinking of awesome 80’s icons Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon circa 1980. Who doesn’t find their impressive hair, ill fitting high waisted jeans, and ever lasting friendship inspirational?


Where can Novocastrians catch Blane St.Vintage in October?


We will be applying to do the Hunt and Gather markets in October, which will be run on the third Saturday in Pacific park.


Anything else our readers should know?

We not only do vintage clothing but also bags and accessories. Catch us on: