Some say that there’s no such thing as real culture anymore. Some people argue that due to rampant globalisation and the rise of the multi-national corporation that you can get off a plane in Durban, Jakarta, Berlin or Anchorage and the majority of the shops will all be the same. And in many parts of Australia you’ll find that it is no different.

There’s something to be said, then, for that line of thought. Money greases the wheels that turn the world on its axis and the big brands have their fingers in just about every pie. A Top Shop just opened in Sydney, for God’s sake!

Thankfully, however, there are places around where you can buy some unique clothes or souvenirs without having to spend an absolute packet and know that you’re helping out local manufacturers and designers in the process.

So there’s no need to be worried about globalisation, because we here have done the ground work so you can spend your hard earned dollars on something you wouldn’t be able to pick up from the local mall back home. And while you’re spending, you’ll be supporting local retailers.

So if you’re looking for a present to bring back to the family put down the plush novelty kangaroo with the silly cork hat and read on!

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Sydney, NSW

ABOUT: Australia’s largest city is one of the best for shopping. Of course all the big brands are out in force in the big shopping centres and glitzy arcades in the CBD, but there are also a number of suburbs with great boutiques and markets to keep the more discerning consumer happy.

WHERE: Oxford Street, one of the main arteries connecting the eastern suburbs beaches with the city, is a great place for shopping. The long main street is riddled with beautiful boutique stores as well as cafes and restaurants for when you need to refuel. Newtown is a suburb well known for its great selection of left-of-centre stores. Up and down the main thoroughfare of King Street you can find locally produced and vintage clothing, or even a tattoo if you’re looking to treat yourself to a Christmas present. The Rocks Markets held every weekend in the historic area of Sydney is one of the best places to buy authentic souvenirs all sorts of handmade arts and crafts, figurines and photographs.

Melbourne, VIC

ABOUT: The Victorian capital is generally considered the “coolest” city in Australia, although Sydneysiders may disagree. Melbourne’s beautiful CBD is full of malls and shopping centres while the suburbs have a number of arcades and boutiques which help reinforce its reputation as the trendiest place in Australia.

WHERE: The leafy and decidedly upmarket suburb of South Yarra is a great place to go whether you want to do a little high-end shopping amongst the mansions on Toorak Road, or if you’re after something a little grungier, head to the famous Chapel Street. This is one of the places to be in Melbourne, where you can mingle with the beautiful young people cruising the strip, pop your head into all the wonderful vintage clothing stores or grab an ice cold beer or sushi at any number of little bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for something really alternative however you could always pop across to Fitzroy and drift around Brunswick Street with the tight jeans crowd looking disaffected (in a really cool way of course) with your iPod playing Interpol or whatever it is the ‘hip’ kids are listening to these days.

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Brisbane, QLD

ABOUT: Brisbane is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, blossoming in the last 20 years from something of a stagnant backwater to a thriving commercial hub and a place awash with a bustling nightlife and restaurant scene. Predictably the shopping has improved out of sight!

WHERE: Come for the affordable and delicious food options and stay for the eclectic mix of boutique fashion, shoes and electronics stores. Elizabeth Arcade in South Brisbane is a must visit spot in the heart of the city. Stretching from Elizabeth to Charlotte Street, Elizabeth Arcade is home to a great range of boutiques each offering diverse fashion options. The trendy suburb of Fortitude Valley holds its own markets every Saturday and Sunday which have a whole range of awesome handmade, locally manufactured clothes and trinkets. Our tip is to go on a Saturday afternoon and then hang around afterwards for a few beers and a live band at night. That’s what the suburb is best known for!

Hobart, TAS

ABOUT: For many people Hobart conjures images of a windswept coastline or a few Nissen huts dusted across the snow capped peak of Mount Wellington, but that is simply untrue! Apart from being one of the most beautiful cities in Australia, Hobart is also one of the most happening and has a wonderful set of markets that will surely convince anyone that the homemade, well loved creations make for excellent presents whether for friends and family or as a little personal treat for oneself. Go on and indulge!

WHERE: Ringed by sandstone warehouses, Salamanca Place has a definite village vibe, and the locals manning the 300 hundred stalls are all too keen for having a yarn and making visitors feel welcome. The Salamanca Markets are held on the Saturday mornings and really are all about the locals. The produce is farmed, grown, picked and cooked by the very same local selling it, and the stunning hand-crafted jewellery is melted twisted and polished by the artist holding up the mirror. Grab some breakfast, have a chat with a local designer, or just wander around the beautiful sandstone buildings down by the water, this is one of the most beautiful markets in the country.

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Perth, WA

ABOUT: Perth is fast become Australia’s richest city. With the mining sector in the state continuing to explode, the money is pouring in to the state capital at a rate of knots. Perth is a surprisingly lively, sprawling city with a burgeoning art scene, as well as some of the best restaurants anywhere in the country with fresh wine and produce coming straight out of the Margaret River. Oh yeah, the shops are pretty good too.

WHERE: Just north of the city centre Leederville is one of the trendiest suburbs in the west. Quaint little cafes and bars jostle with boutique clothing stores for prominence along lovely, leafy streets and narrow lanes. It’s also a good place to rub shoulders with some of Western Australia’s most famous musicians, actors and alternative minded athletes. If a market is more your style then take an hour long trip out of the city to Fremantle and check out the markets there. With live music and street performers entertaining shoppers over the weekend, the eclectic-ness is exactly why the locals love them.