Farmers’ markets bring community and a taste of the country to cities and towns across Australia. We round up the best farmers markets to be found across the country.
If there’s one thing you won’t find at Alphington Farmers Market in Melbourne’s north, it’s a banana. “If you can buy a banana or a pineapple here,” says staffer Michelle O’Connor with a laugh, “then something is wrong.”
What you will find is an abundance of incredible Victorian produce – Corangamite dairy, Gippsland eggs, Murray River citrus, Daylesford beef, Beechworth olives – and the makers and farmers behind the food.
Operating from fairgrounds, town squares and primary schools across the country, food markets are a window into life on the land for city slickers looking for a connection to their food. They also provide a space for communities to come together and shop safely outdoors (most farmers’ markets have traded through COVID-19 restrictions). And money spent at markets goes directly back to the farm – no middle man. We’ll drink (something hyper-local) to that.
Willunga Farmers Market, Willunga / Willangga, SA
Mark and Lisa McCarthy grow more than 10 varieties of apples and nine types of pears at their McLaren Vale property, McCarthy’s Orchard, which also has 70-year-old shiraz vines. The McCarthys are regulars at this pioneering farmers’ market, the first to launch in South Australia back in 2001. Manager Jenni Mitton says the 80-stall Saturday event, 45 minutes south of Adelaide, specialises in produce from the Fleurieu Peninsula and surrounds. Stock up on Fleurieu Milk Company’s full-cream milk; Little Acre Foods’ hand-crafted pâtés, rillettes and terrines; and Kangaroo Island Shellfish oysters. Once the shopping’s done, satisfy your appetite with brilliant Bull Creek Bakery pies.
Barossa Farmers Market, Ngadjuri Country, SA
Housed in a rustic shed down a scenic country lane in Angaston, this 50-stall Saturday market is the Barossa in a nutshell. Head straight to the Trevallie Orchard stall to sample local apricots and pears grown on half-century-old trees. Then look for Gumshire Pork’s marbled Hampshire cuts, the Dairyman Barossa’s milk-fed veal, Fenton Farm Fresh greens and coffee from Bean Addiction. Be sure to fossick for gems such as quail eggs, goose eggs, mettwurst and delicious fudge to savour later.
Farm Gate Market, Hobart / Nipaluna, Tas
“Having travelled overseas a lot, I noticed the homegrown pride and advocacy at farmers’ markets that we didn’t have here,” says Madi Seeber-Peattie, who created the bustling Farm Gate Market 12 years ago. Taking over Bathurst Street in Hobart’s CBD each Sunday, the 85-odd stalls sell about 30 varieties of apples and 40 types of potatoes between them. In summer, there’s stone fruit – cherries, nectarines, apricots and peaches – plus berries of all hues. Join the queue for George Town Seafoods’ freshly caught scallops and fish or Cygnet Mushroom Farm’s chestnut shrooms. Everything comes from the Apple Isle, including the cheddar in Señor Frijoles’s quesadillas and the smoked pork in Wood Fiery Redhead’s breakfast buns, both at the Grub Hub.
Street Eats @ Franko, Hobart / Nipaluna, Tas
An offshoot of Farm Gate, these night markets inhabit Hobart’s historic Franklin Square on Fridays during Tassie’s more hospitable months (December until the end of March). Again, the focus is strictly local but this is all about bringing a picnic blanket and eating on the lawn while watching local performers. About 20 stalls line the square under twinkling lights; favourites include Harissa Hobart’s vegan burritos and the charcoal-grilled Taiwanese-style squid from Formosa Bites. Don’t skip the bevvies: Captain Bligh’s ales and spirits, plus Endangered Distilling Co’s Bread Vodka.
Alphington Farmers Market, Wurundjeri Country, Vic
Schulz Organic Dairy is a full-cream fantasy: single herd, organic, biodynamic and produced by the same family since 1972. From the lush Victorian pasturelands to you, it’s sold in glass bottles like the good old days. Find Schulz at this 30-plus-stall Sunday Melbourne market, which also features Save Our Soil Australia’s Mark Rathbone (who brings biodynamic veg such as beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli and pumpkins), Milawa Free Range Poultry and WillowZen eggs, plus bread, citrus, honey and more. Grab a Bao Melbourne bun that alone is worth the trip.
Coburg Farmers Market, Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country, Vic
The sense of community is strong at Coburg’s petite but beautifully formed Saturday food fête run by Melbourne Farmers Markets, which also operates the Alphington, Carlton, Abbotsford and Gasworks (Albert Park) outposts. This Inner Northern market is also strictly Victorian, with more than 30 carefully curated stalls offering “one of everything”, according to MFM’s Michelle O’Connor. “We wouldn’t have two honeys or two eggs,” she says. Go for restaurant-quality Day’s Walk Farm organic veg, plus regional dairy, meat, potatoes, citrus and coffee from not-for profit social enterprise Streat.
Mullum Farmers Market, Bundjalung Country, NSW
John Picone grows the weird, the wonderful and the delicious at Picone Exotic Fruits, his NSW North Coast farm. Head to Mullumbimby’s showground for this rustic Friday morning event, where Picone sells his exquisite koubo fruit, torch ginger, soncoya, marina di chioggia pumpkin, jujube, sapote and more. He’s just one of the exceptional producers at this delightful regional market, which counts Brunswick Seed Oysters, Byron Grass Fed beef, Coopers Shoot Tomatoes and Crabbes Creek Woodfired sourdough among stallholders. While you’re there, snack on excellent okonomiyaki from Japanese Kitchen, teamed with a Jungle Juice smoothie made from fruit sourced that morning.
Carriageworks Farmers Market, Eveleigh / Gadigal Country, NSW
A Sydney culinary institution, held each Saturday morning at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops, this 76-stall market attracts the best-known gourmands from around the state. There’s a swathe of award-winning names: LP’s Quality Meats, Berkelo breads, Block 11 Organics, Country Valley Dairy, Kurrawong Organics, Pepe Saya cultured butter... the list goes on. Chef Luke Powell is a regular with his outstanding hotdogs and Flour and Stone’s much-adored baked treats are a must.
Rusty’s Market, Cairns / Gimuy, Qld
Held inside a cavernous warehouse in central Cairns from Friday to Sunday mornings, this 180-stall cornucopia of all things tropical offers a sensory overload in a rush of colour and an intoxicating blend of fragrances. Stacks of cut watermelon compete for attention alongside pineapples, dragonfruit, rambutans, lychees, coconuts, mangosteens and verdant herbs, all grown and sold by farmers who’ve attended the market for as long as 25 years. Call in at the dining area for a cracking Saigon Hut green papaya salad and wash it down with a fresh juice – sugarcane, of course.
Noosa Farmers Market, Gubbi Gubbi Country, Qld
This 90-stall Sunday morning market is a classic of the genre, drawing farmers 3from the lush Sunshine Coast and Mary Valley hinterlands, plus chefs from Noosa’s best eateries. The produce is astonishing; go home with a huge bag of local tomatoes from Noosa Reds, a pile of Noosa River mud crabs and a kilo of Mooloolaba prawns, while Woombye farmer Mick Dan from Good Harvest Organic Farm will load you up with crisp salad greens. Keep one hand free for a brunchtime steamed duck bun from the Embassy XO stand.
Parap Village Markets, Darwin / Larrakia Country, NT
No committed food-lover visits Darwin without immediately setting out on a laksa crawl. Each Saturday, debate over the best bowl rages at Parap Village Markets, where stalls face off with their own versions of the spicy noodle soup. It’s said that Mary’s Laksa takes the crown so brave the lines to be served by Mary herself (working in a steamy mobile trailer) then slurp, sweat and savour a culinary memory that will last a lifetime.
Margaret River Farmers’ Market, Noongar Country, WA
Although it runs year-round, it’s from spring that this Saturday morning event really ramps up. Stalls swell from 35 in winter to 60 by Christmas, with local crops – carrots, beets, leeks, kale, cabbage, radish, potatoes – matched by superb meats such as pasture-raised Rosa’s Ridge chicken and Geo Organics beef. And from September, fishermen supply freshly caught hapuka, king snapper and whiting. Make a morning of it with breakfast – sample the Má Là dumplings – and coffee.