The Best Markets in Australia

As any discerning traveller knows, the local markets can tell you more about a place than any tourist office with their collection of pamphlets. In Australia, this is no different. Escape the tourist traps and do it like the locals, picking up edible treasures and keepsakes. From vintage flea markets to undercover produce markets selling anything from smoked meats to ice cream sandwiches, I’ve traipsed (with a French tote on my side) to find the best markets in Australia.

George St, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia
The Rocks is undoubtedly one of Sydney‘s most beautiful areas. Follow George Street until the very end and it’s almost like you’ve stepped back in time—there are cobblestones under your feet, quaint stores to browse, and great pubs to visit. One of the best experiences you can have in Sydney is to visit the Rocks Markets, especially on Friday nights during spring and summer for the Rocks Markets by Moonlight. The warmer months in Sydney are the most exciting; pair them with all the beauty of the famous Harbour Bridge, Opera House and this historic hub and you’ve got the best version of this amazing city. There are stalls offering everything from handmade gifts and sweets to unique jewelry and fashion, but the atmosphere is set off by all of the other quirks that you would never have expected—puppeteers and magicians roaming the crowd, dozens of people young and old wearing headphones and dancing at a silent disco, musical performances and pet displays with some of the most enormous cats and rabbits you’ve ever imagined. All of this set among historic buildings and Sydney’s oldest sites makes for a truly unique experience indeed.
Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
On the first Saturday of the month, locals shop for vintage apparel and antique home decor at this flea market.
245 Wilson St, Eveleigh NSW 2015, Australia
Every Saturday, more than 70 stalls fill the Eveleigh Railyards with regional produce, artisan breads, cheeses, jams, fresh coffee, and flowers. 243 Wilson St., Eveleigh, 61/(0) 2-9209-4735. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Petrina Tinslay
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.
7/44-60 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia
Some come here just for the cheese, great pillars of blue and Kangaroo Island creamy sheep’s, sampling washed rinds and goat’s curd and packing cooler bags to go. Others come from breakfast, Spanish tortilla with avocado, morcilla, smashed eggs, and an excellent jamon and manchego toasted sandwich at Comida Catering. More than a million visitors stream through Adelaide Central Markets - one of the largest undercover produce markets in Australia - each month. There are oysters and organic fruit and vegetables, indigenous bush tucker and culinary highlights from the Barossa Valley and nearby Kangaroo Island. Nearby Market St Coffee makes a great caffeine brew. This place is on every travelling gastronome’s must-do list.
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