Melbourne markets for the alternative shopping experience
We all love a nice retail gallivant with air-conditioning and a helpful sales assistant, but does anything beat a Sunday morning stroll around a market, surrounded by couples and families and flowers and dogs on leashes and glorious homemade organic food? The answer is no, and to fully convince you, here is a list of 10 markets that will fill your heart with fresh air and low-priced goods.
1. Queen Victoria Market
It is incredibly cliché to commence a list of Melbourne’s premier markets with the Queen Vic and I acknowledge that, but the QV is a genuine staple of the city. This market’s outdoor, open-plan space allows you to easily peruse the exotic, the cheap, the kitschy and the treasures. Since its opening in 1878 (yep, seriously, this market was functioning at the same time as Queen Victoria was a ruler, funnily enough), this market has been a prominent part of Melbourne’s unique fabric.
My personal memories of the market are going before dawn, holding my breath and blocking my ears in the Meat market, and being amazed at the hanging cheeses and breads. Now, I go there to grab a juice from Marketjuice, and stroll around to find some incredibly cheap and beautiful fruit (The Fresh Pear Fruit Supply is always lovely), and maybe even grab a bunch of glorious blooms to pop in a super-hipster mason jar from Joe Leuzzi Flowers (one word for winter: chrysanthemums; they will brighten up any rainy day!).
Although located on a burial site of 10,000 early settlers (truth), every Melbourninan has happy and special memories of the market, and we are so lucky to live in a city where we can experience such a beautiful communal place, whilst chowing down on the incredibly famous jam doughnuts. Terrific.
Address:Corner of Victoria St and Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Tuesdays, Thursday-Sunday, 6am to 5pm
2. Preston Market
This is the kind of place where there is a reasonable chance that you may just come across a goat for sale. Unpredictably refreshing, Preston houses a traditional market where prices have to be seen and subsequently gaped at, to be believed.
The pasta is of particular note and they even sell incredibly delicioso sauces. The bakery section is also nearing unbelievable, price-wise and I have one word for you: cannoli. Dang son, get your hands on these literal pastry tubes sent from angels above. There are also tonnes of spices on offer (D’Souzas) where you, for a minute (if you shut your eyes real tight), feel like you are browsing through intense and wonderfully scented dusty granules along the souks of Morroco.
Address: Corner Murray Street and Cramer Street, Preston VIC 3072
Opening Hours: Wednesdays, 8am onwards
3. Abbotsford Convent Farmer’s Market
Are you feeling like taking a leaf(y green) out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, but haven’t got the required 7000 Goop Dollars to do so? Instead, you can head down to the gorgeous Farmer’s Market to grab something that will make your heart, mind and body all thank you.
Specialising in producer-direct-to-customer sales, this market sings of health and well-being for all. Take your kids and animals and show them the beauty in unprocessed fruits and vegetables, teach them to pronounce the names of herbs and browse through the wide range of cheeses and seeds. One of the great things about this market is the no plastic policy, so dig out your green bags and hi-five Mother Nature. You deserve it.
Address: 1-16 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067
Opening Hours: Every fourth Saturday of the month, 8am to 1pm
Admission Price: $2 entry (going to the Abbotsford Convent Foundation maintenance fund)
4. Little Saigon Market
When at this market, all my mind can think is woah. Loud, raucous, slightly scary, entertaining and an incredibly culturally uplifting experience, this should be on the list of every Melbournian, or visiting Melbournian ever. It is an eye-opener, and it makes you never want to shut your eyes again just so you don’t miss all the elegantly-crafted things on offer at this glittering Asian treasure.
Asian food is something that is so beautifully at sight, but the complexities of flavour and composition make your cells sing and this market gives you everything you will ever want to make your very own symphony. The market offers everything from sugarcane to squid and get this: they offer samples of fruit to try before you buy (everybody chant with me; SAMPLES, SAMPLES, SAMPLES)! And these fruits will blow your mind, with DRAGONFRUIT (so badass), RAMBUTANS (again, another hardcore fruit name) and MANGOES (slightly less boss of a name but whatever, still cheap mangoes).
The seafood is live, there are emu eggs (seriously there are) and it’s bustling with locals who know what they are looking for. A genuine experience that will lead to you telling anyone who will listen about the freshest and craziest market in Melbs.
Address: 63 Nicholson St, Footscray VIC 3011
Opening Hours: Daily from 9am onwards
5. The St Kilda Esplanade Market
Iconic. This market is a Melbourne institution that is spectacularly located, and offers such an array of hipster-y, arty stuff that’ll make you want to make a mixtape and weave a basket for your bike – it’s that cool.
Arts and crafts galore, here is a sub-list of my faves; Food For Your Skin, combining skincare with rich nutrients from olive oil, this will keep your skin clean and clear and joyful, I love Robotica Factory because of their groovy, blast-from-the-past designs (Using Scrabble and Monopoly to create jewellery? Legend) and Retropop Homewares for something off the chart and completely different to spice up your tea towels and homely items. This market is brilliant for a stroll and you can be absolutely certain that something will catch your eye.
Address: The Esplanade, Maribyrnong VIC 3032
Opening Hours: Sundays, 10am to 4pm
6. The Rose Street Artists’ Market
Okay so this one reminds me of The Sound of Music soundtrack, on a loop. And cupcakes. Sprinkles. Cats wearing jumpers. This is further helped by its ultra-hip location in Fitzroy, and all of the cool people who are swanning around.
Handmade little trinkets and the quirky offerings of Melbourne’s arty folk are what’s on offer here, and it feels like you are just hanging around inside the mind of Zooey Deschanel. The studios offer gorgeous fashion items, furniture, prints and art, and who wouldn’t want to be supporting the monumentally talented creative of our town? Scoping around, I found gorgeous hand-drawn quotes (you can feel the love in every letter!) and sublimely intricate jewellery. This market is every Pinterest aficionado’s dream, so get down here, and make sure you Instagram the sweet little things you find.
Address: 60 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Opening Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am to 5pm
7. Camberwell Market
This super-upmarket market is one of the most underrated clothes markets in Melbourne (how many times can I say market in one sentence?) and that is both a shame for everyone who is missing out, but good for all the people who are snapping up great clothes at bargain prices and who don’t feel like sharing that with others (rude).
Camberwell offers pre-owned but very loved and meticulously taken care-of items that will make your jaw drop. The reaction will be the same for all; “Oh my god…is that jacket seriously that cheap? And it’s so unique!” It’s truly not a worry, friends. Your happiness is my happiness, so let’s combine those two, and I’ll see you amongst the gorgeous racks of clothes in Camberwell, where I guarantee you will find the item of your dreams (not even an exaggeration).
Address: Camberwell Marketplace Car Park, Station St, Camberwell VIC 3103
Opening Hours: Sundays 7am to 12.30pm
8. Bend & Snap Market
There is a pic on the Bend and Snap Facebook page that says it all: “Local is the new black.” This design and vintage gem sells gorgeous trinkets and held at £1000 Bend, the venue is groovin’ and the people are too. The next one is going to be on the 25th and 26th of July, so hop on down and check out some glorious, home-grown designs that are simply magnifique.
Address:361 Little Lonsdale St Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Sundays 11am to 4pm
9. Country Markets
Daylesford Sunday Market. Source.
It is necessary for us to herald the oft-unsung market heroes of country and coastal Victoria, where there is so much to be discovered. A few quick picks: Daylesford Railway Station Market (Sundays 8am to 4pm) where there are candles, soaps and freshly made preserves in abundance, adding a gorgeously homely feel to your, well, home.
Anglesea Summer Markets (held 3 times in the summer months) are massive events where you can breathe the fresh salt tang and become immersed in bohemian chic, with thread bracelets, surf gear and much more on offer. Wangaratta trash n’ treasure (Sundays 8am to 1pm), Werribee Central Farmer’s Market (Every 4th Saturday of the month, 8am to 1pm) and Twig & Bloom Boutique Market (for children and babies, in Benalla) are also out of the CBD, but are brimming with opportunity.
10. Arts Centre Sunday Market
One of my long-enduring loves of Melbourne, the Arts Centre houses an eclectic mix of food, design and decorative items. I love those tiny Dutch pancakes and I love the cruisy nature of the market as well – how you can just slowly walk through, surrounded by picturesque trees and artsy people.
Everything is locally made (read: unique) so you can pick something up here that you won’t find anywhere else. So buy some food, sit back on the Hamer Hall lawn and just kick back. It’s Sunday, and you have work tomorrow, so enjoy the time while you can.
Address:100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Sundays 10am to 4pm
One of a kind trinkets at Melbourne’s many markets
In essence, markets are Melbourne’s essence. You can hunt and gather and maybe even talk to other people in real life as you pick up celery and mason jars and prints and lovingly-knitted socks and Dutch Pancakes. Markets aren’t just about the purchases; it’s about the communication, and these lovely meeting-places make the world of Melbourne feel like a very small, intimate and cosy place.
Did we miss out on any of your favourite markets? Do let us know in the comments section below!