JULIE Finch might be the last of a dying breed – she believes she owns one of the last, if not the last, dedicated puppet shop in Australia.
After spending 10 years at her Hanhdorf Puppet Shop, Miss Finch decided to retire to Kaniva, bringing along her unique collection of puppets.
Miss Finch’s passion for puppets began at a young age, but her first career was in tourism.
“All my life I’ve had an interest,” she said.
“I think it’s because I never grew up myself. I always had an interest in craft dolls, toys and puppetry – they come to life and it’s something magical.”
Miss Finch said she was first introduced to the wonder of puppetry at school.
“Back in 1958 there was a very famous marionette Tim Tookies, the producer and puppet maker Peter was so successful the government at the time employed him to travel around Australia to schools,” she said.
“My eight-year-old self saw life-sized wombats, koalas and possums attached to three-meter strings and I was hooked.”
However, despite a steady interest in puppetry Miss Finch took a practical career route into the tourism field.
“I had a life-long interest in puppets and collected them,” she said.
“I was in tourism but I used puppets to do shows on the weekends, then I gave up the tourism side of things and started my old shop in Hanhdorf, which was very successful.”
Miss Finch said she was possibly the only puppet show left in Australia and was in a fortunate position to display some of the most beautiful puppets in the world.
She said despite the waning number of puppetry shops, puppets and the art of puppetry shows were time-less.
“The most important thing in this time is that puppetry allows children to be interactive and creative,” she said.
“It takes children away from the electronics and the sheer simplicity is great – you put a puppet on your hand and it becomes whatever you want it to be – that never changes through the ages.
“It doesn’t matter what era it is people still love puppetry.”
Miss Finch said Kaniva had quickly embraced the shop, which opened on Monday, and she hoped it’s presence would help tourism in and through the town.
“Puppets are great at breaking the monotony.”