Best Markets in the Northern Territory

The most ethnically diverse state in the country—Darwinites descend from at least 70 ethnic backgrounds—offers myriad traditions when it comes to food, craft, and culture. Markets are a great way to explore the variety, and the Northern Territory is a leader in open-air bazaars. From the balmy and bohemian Mindil Beach Market in Darwin to the Aboriginal heartland of Alice Springs, here are a half dozen markets to plan your trip around.

35 Cavenagh Drive
Darwin’s proximity to Indonesia is evident at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, a gorgeous place to be on a balmy tropical evening in this Northern Territory city. Held every Thursday in the dry season months between May and October, this fabulous market is a bit of a Darwin institution. Locals start arriving at dusk (out of the heat of the day), armed with tables, chairs, rugs and kids. They settle on the beach or the grass to watch the sun sink into the ocean (that’s one thing the east coast of Australia doesn’t offer). Like Darwin, these markets are melting pot of cuisines and cultures. People from more than 50 nationalities live in Darwin and more than 30 exotic national flavours – including Aboriginal, Islander, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and European – are showcased in the tasty food stalls at Mindil Beach. There’s arts and crafts to pick up here too, so bring a carry bag for new treasures.
36 Todd St, Alice Springs NT 0870, Australia
At least twice per month between March and November, Todd Mall in Alice Springs transforms into a lively Sunday bazaar hawking handcrafted jewelry, local produce, natural soaps, wood carvings, hammocks, and everything in between. In the morning, listen for the “Town Crier” who rings a bell and declares the market open at the top of his tonsils. Once a month from August to November, the city also hosts a night market that often accompanies big events and includes local performers in the lineup.
Parap Place
This Saturday institution in Darwin’s thriving Parap district is a feast for the senses. Whether you’re after a morning fill of Vietnamese coffee, tropical fruit and laksa or a local memento—from sarongs to handmade wooden jewelry—this market is for you. Don’t miss the acoustic buskers or the beautiful tropical flowers such as beehive ginger (pictured).
Goyder Square, The Blvd, Palmerston City NT 0831, Australia
Every Friday evening from late April through October, follow the rainbow lorikeets to the Palmerston and Rural Markets in Goyder Square, roughly 20 minutes east of Darwin. The family-friendly night out is filled with entertainers, arts and crafts, fusion flavors, games and local bands and buskers that spill out from 150 stalls, creating a market that’s memorable for all ages.
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