Ballarat Swap Meet has collectors revved up and ready to go

HOLDEN man Steve Booker has plenty of items on sale at his stall at the Ballarat Swap Meet starting tomorrow.

But he will have more than a casual eye on what everyone else has on display.

There will 2500 sites and Mr Booker likes to pick his way through other people’s goods because he is always on the look out for “stuff”. 

He says there are some genuine bargains at what is the largest swap meet of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, if you know what you are looking for.

“The best ones to find are the guys who don’t know what they’ve got and don’t know what it’s worth,” Mr Booker says. “I went to Epping, for example, and bought a six-inch HK (Holden) rim for $20. They sell upwards of $150. He didn’t know what it was.

Mr Booker has attended 23 of the 25 Ballarat Swap Meets to date. Over that time it has more than quadrupled in size and now has bric-a-brac and antiques as well as car-related items.

As a collector of old HK series Holdens, the 56-year-old is always on the lookout for bits and pieces to complete his projects. Despite the increasing rarity of the cars themselves, it might be getting easier for the clever picker.

“There’s reproduction parts becoming available and you can also find a lot of new ‘old’ stock floating around that has never been fitted,” Mr Booker says. 

“There is lots of stuff available for Holdens and a lot of Ford and Valiant stuff as well. I bought a speedo for $120 that has never been used. It has just two test miles on its odometer.”

As far as his own stall goes, Mr Booker sold $3500 worth of gear last year. But that is no indication of his priorities.

“I don’t like selling. I hoard,” Mr Booker explains. “I sell so I can buy more. 

Mr Booker will set up today at the Ballarat Airport and will eat, drink and sleep there the entire weekend.

The Ballarat District Early Holden Car Club has 14 sites together, so the swap meet is as much a social event as it is a mercantile one.

“The truth is, you can get more stuff on eBay, but what’s the point? Swap meets are much more fun. I’d rather buy off someone I can see,” he says.

Collector: Steve Booker is ready to load up and head off to the Ballarat Swap Meet. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

Collector: Steve Booker is ready to load up and head off to the Ballarat Swap Meet. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD