Not many markets in Australia have a reputation that reaches beyond the borders of their home town. Australia is too young a country to have a big tradition in markets, unlike Europe or Asia. The Queen Victoria Market, however, is such a place that is well known also in Sydney. In my view it’s a must-see if you visit the beautiful city of Melbourne.
You see, I believe in markets. I believe in dealing with the people directly that produce your food: the growers, the packers, the drivers, the market vendors that yell random non-sense just to get the crowd’s attention.
I believe in being able to handle the product before you commit to buying it, to having a taste, to all the smells of fresh fruit, fish and vegetables.
I believe that markets are offering a very raw insight into the soul of a city and its people. They are make-up-free reflection of the city’s inner self.
And that’s no different at the Queen Victoria Market. It’s a big market indeed – stalls are lining up under the long covered rows, lots and lots of them. And you can buy here pretty much anything you like: clothes and toys and of course tourist souvenirs, you will find everything that you need. But that’s just the boring part. The fun part begins when you enter the fruit and vegetables area.
It’s a wonderful mix of cultures and ethnicities here – no matter whether you are Asian or Mediterranean, your ingredients will be right here, sold by people that understand their product. There’s the everyday stuff, and then there’s the more bizarre and unusual, a feast for the eyes and a treasure box for the gourmet.
The real highlight of your Queen Victoria Market visit, however, will be the Dairy Produce Hall, an art-deco masterpiece with tiny enclosed stalls, like shop fronts, that are home to some of the most wonderful delicacies: gourmet sausages, handcrafted cheeses and spices all come together to one wonderful display of culinary traditions. Strolling along these vendors feels almost royal: the art-deco style and the way some shops owners have lovingly decorated their stalls just take this whole market experience to another level.
When visiting you should plan for a whole morning there since the “Vic Market” has an impressive size – two street blocks are completely occupied by the market with its various halls and buildings.
It is the heart and soul of the early Melbourne, and there are a number of signs explaining the history of the market and the role it played in the city over time. After all, the market is more than 130 years old and has been the site for livestock sales, wholesaling of fruit and vegetables and even a cemetery! It has many stories to tell, including murder stories, so keep your eyes open for some interesting facts along the way.
The Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays and open on all the other days, with special event scheduled on Sundays. For more Melbourne attractions and activities, have a look at our Melbourne Travel Guide!
Queen Victoria Market, corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets in Melbourne’s CBD. http://www.qvm.com.au