ENTER one of Ballarat's most beautiful bookshopsThe Known World, and immerse yourself in a haven of words.
In the 1860s, the Coxalls contributed greatly to the proper functioning of the Ballarat community. A farming family, working the land was a labour of love.
More than a century-and-a-half later, and things haven’t changed for the Coxalls. Giving back to community remains their sole aspiration.
“Our family has been here for many generations. People tell jokes about the Coxalls of Buninyong,” Michelle Coxall said.
“I think they probably came here for farming. Some of us stayed, others left. My father opened the concrete factory BVCI which has been going for about 40 years and has employed hundreds of people over that time.”
Following in her family’s footsteps, Michelle is also a huge contributor to community life in Ballarat.
The 51-year-old is the owner of The Known World, the city’s most-charming second-hand bookshop.
An impeccably-renovated, art-deco-styled building, it’s a treasure trove you would only hope to encounter in your dreams.
With ornate, ceiling-high bookshelves, quirky vintage decor and a carefully curated selection of unique books and collectables, Michelle said renovating the historic 1880s building was a lifelong dream.
She said her store aimed to provide a refuge for customers, immersing them in knowledge, wisdom and art.
“It’s like a sanctuary for people. There aren’t a lot of havens like this left in the world,” she said.
The Known World doubles up as a cafe and also boasts a cute and inviting boutique one-bedroom apartment upstairs which is available for short-term holiday-goers. Positioned in the heart of Ballarat’s CBD and only a stone’s throw away from cafes, restaurants, galleries and retail, it’s the perfect location for visitors to the city.
“Ballarat means a lot to me. It’s where we were educated and I have a very long connection to the city,” Michelle said.
“I love the architecture, the wonderful schools and the size of the city. It’s not as impersonal as a major metropolitan city but it has all the benefits and interesting cultural aspects.”
And with an awesome love for the alternate world of books, she said she hoped The Known World could in some way keep the gift of reading alive while staying true to her family legacy of enriching community.
“I remember wanting to voraciously read everything and devouring books as a child,” she said.
“These days, you see kids growing up in houses without a single book, but it’s nice to think that books are still an object of value.
“They embody thoughts, history, wisdom and are huge receptacles of human history and endeavour. That’s something you can’t get from a computer screen.
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
The Known World is located at 14 Sturt Street, Ballarat. It is open from Monday to Sunday. For more information and opening times, head to theknownworldbookshop.com.au