People and Places
Market creator puts smiles on our dials By Andrea Kellett

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Vanessa Johnson is the driving force behind the Peninsula’s much-loved Emu Plains Market in Balnarring. She has also launched a new market in Frankston’s Beauty Park called the Little Beauty Market.

This Somers resident and mother of two young children (Ned, 9, and Mabel, 8) is pretty much taking the region by storm right now. She runs the popular annual Stringybark Cinema

at Emu Plains Reserve each January (details at and 2018 will see her launch a sister cinema in Frankston called Botanika Cinema. Movies will screen under the stars in George Pentland Botanic Gardens on April 6, 7, 13 and 14. 

“How long have I lived in Somers? I’ve been here for, oh my gosh, for ever!” Vanessa says of the beautiful community where she and her husband Joel are raising their children and running their successful community market business.

It all started when the former Rotary-run Balnarring Racecourse Market closed in early 2012. Vanessa saw an opportunity. With her marketing background and community passion (she volunteered at the local kinder and ran the Somers Winter Market for three years) she decided she’d create a new market.

“I thought, ‘I could do this’,” she explains. Vanessa launched the Emu Plains Market in December 2012 with 80 stallholders. “It was pretty much rained out,” she says. “It was a baptism by fire.”

Fast-forward to 2017 and the Emu Plains Market now boasts over 230 stallholders and an incredible waiting list. Vanessa spent considerable time looking for a venue for a second market and fell in love with Beauty Park. The inaugural Little Beauty Market was held in October and now runs on the fourth Saturday of each month from 10am-3pm until April.

As if things weren’t busy enough there’s also four new websites and Vanessa is preparing to run the Australia Day Hastings Foreshore Festival for the second year in a row. 

Has it been a whirlwind five years? “Yes, it has, but it’s also been super fun!” 

For more on Vanessa’s markets, events and festivals, all of which are intended to put a “smile on your dial”, head to 


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