If you want to pick up fresh produce and artisan goods in Melbourne, there’s no better place than at the historic Queen Victoria Market. It’s the only surviving 19th-century market left in Melbourne’s CBD and is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. It has been serving consumers since 1878 and is now listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The market isn’t actually named after Queen Victoria, but rather due to its location at the corner of Queen and Victoria streets.
The Queen Victoria Market has had a storied history, with the site on which it now stands once part of the Old Melbourne Cemetery. More than 900 bodies had to be exhumed and reburied in other Melbourne cemeteries when the market was expanded in 1917, while around 9,000 bodies still remain buried beneath the market’s car park. At first, some market gardeners refused to use the new space and it was dedicated to livestock and hay in the years before a dedicated Meat Hall was built.
In 1929, the City of Melbourne constructed 60 brick stores where wholesale agents and merchants were to be housed. But widespread allegations of corruption and racketeering led to a Royal Commission and the Wholesale Market relocated to Footscray in 1969, with only remnants of these stores still visible.
Today the market is set across seven hectares of food halls, with market stalls selling everything from fruit and vegetables to gourmet cheese, artisan bread, delicatessen meats and fresh seafood. You can also find local handicrafts and unique souvenirs, together with some clothing and jewelry items. It’s open every day of the week (except Mondays and Wednesdays), with an evening market on Wednesdays during the summer months that features live music and additional food stalls.