Western Queensland Road Trip #17 St George
At first glance, the Balonne Sports Store on Victoria Street in St George seems like an ordinary shop. But an intriguing sign and emu footprints leading to the door encourage further investigation. Once inside, the feeling that there’s something special here is confirmed.
The store houses a collection of hand carved emu eggs, created by St George local Stavros “Steve” Margaritis over more than 60 years. Steve, a Greek immigrant who arrived in Australia in 1954, greets visitors with a cheeky smile as he says: “Entry is $5, $10 if you don’t like what you see!”
There’s no chance of anyone taking up Steve’s challenge once they’ve seen his display. A soft glow from more than 150 eggs, carved with intricate designs and illuminated from inside, fills the room at the back of the store. Artfully displayed in front of mirrors, the collection seems to multiply as the eggs are seen from all angles.
Many of the eggs commemorate special events, including World Expo 88 and the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Some represent well-known people while others are carved with beautiful geometric patterns. Over the years, Steve has gifted his carved eggs to dignitaries including Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce. One of his eggs even held pride of place at the White House during Barack Obama’s Presidency.
No two eggs in the collection are the same – be prepared to spend some time absorbing the intricacies of Steve’s beautiful work. It truly is unique.