Whether on the hunt for the best produce, organic cupboard staples or a quirky piece of art, Melbourne’s markets never disappoint. From bustling food stalls to those showcasing local creatives with a flair, spending a day ambling through the markets is a sure way to experience the city and the congenial individuals trading their wares.
The city’s eclectic cultural mix has also resulted in some of the best markets, all offering a diverse range of shopping and culinary delights. Add that to Melbourne’s dedication to sustainability and conscious dining habits, there’s no end to filling a basket or finding that unique item for a special someone. Many of the markets are within easy reach by tram, bus or train from the Central Business District (CBD), and are worth exploring to get a real feel for the city and the people who live there. So, support local when next on a shopping splurge, and take a walk through some iconic and historical market locations to ace the Melbourne experience.
Melbourne’s oldest market, Prahran, opened its doors in 1864 but moved to its current location in 1891. If the sheer size of the Queen Vic Market is too much, then Prahran is the perfect place. With a variety of restaurants and food trucks to sample (The Mussel Pot is a firm favourite), including a store that has every type of cheese toastie imaginable, it’s foodie heaven. The market also prides itself on encouraging vendors to be sustainable, and in 2017 introduced a food waste machine that recycles fish offal and organic waste. You can get to the market via the Sandringham Line from Flinders Street Station and get off at Prahran Station, or take a scenic tram ride on the number 72 to Camberwell (from Swanston Street in the CBD) and get off at stop 30, which is right outside the entrance to the Market.
Home to the famous South Melbourne dim sum, the market is a great destination on the South Bank. With food, flowers, and even a cookery school, it is perfect to browse, no matter what the weather. With the bustling restaurant precinct and events throughout the year (including their famous Summer Night Markets), it’s always a hub of energy with traders willing to share a story or two. The market has a number of green initiatives, such as the Vermicompost Worm Farm Project, which sees an Olympic-sized swimming pool of green waste turned into compost, which is then sold as Market Magic to customers. To get there, take the No. 1 tram from Federation Square towards South Melbourne Beach to the corner of Park Street and Cecil Street (stop 25). The market is a five-minute walk away. Arrive early to grab a delicious pastry from Agathé Pâtisserie.
Hosted at the Royal Exhibition Building, this bi-annual market is a must if you just happen to be in the city at the same time. The market is globally recognised as Australia’s leading design market, hosting events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane each year. Starting in 2008, it has grown to inject over $1 million into the Australian economy by supporting creative businesses across the country. Each market is carefully curated to feature up-and-coming talent and new stalls with each edition. There are also food and beverage stalls, live music, two bars, fresh coffee and Melbourne’s favourite food trucks. Held over three days, expect to find 270 independent art and design stalls.