In October last year, Dandenong Market celebrated their 150th anniversary. As a Melbourne Girl who absolutely loves to experience all the corners and suburbs of this beautiful city, I admittedly only visited the Market for the very first time last week… How did it take me this long? And what a gem of a find!
I was invited to start my Friday with a special media food tour led by Tim Hollands, an Australian chef who is a passionate advocate for local produce, best known for creating original menus and for his unique cooking style. Fuelled by a caffeine hit from Cafe Valentina by Melba Coffee, Tim lead the media group through an inspiring foodie trail, introducing us to some of the traders and showing us where to find some of his favourite produce.
After a morning of sampling the stalls finest produce and a light lunch (a delicious Acai Bowl and fresh juice from Hot Pouch), I spent the afternoon wandering through the 8000 square metres of market stalls, discovering each of the 6 key areas one at a time – The Fruit & Veg sheds, the Meat, Fish & Deli Hall, the street food hub known as Market Square, the fresh produce haven The Pantry, the shopping specialty area The Bazaar, and the new outdoor dining area The Terrace.
I think Dandenong Market could be Melbourne’s best kept secret? Home to over 200 traders, it’s my new go-to markets for sourcing seasonal produce and bargain buys. You too will be charmed by the hidden gems and the vast array of unique and affordable ingredients available for purchase.
7 reasons to shop, eat and experience Dandenong Market
1. Authentic Market Shopping
I love a genuine market shopping adventure. There is nothing better than exploring a busy and bustling market, where you can discover real bargains, one-of-a-kinds, and produce that is top quality and fresh from the farm. Some of the Dandenong Market traders live and breathe their market way of life, like 5th generation baker Melina Longhurst and 3rd generation fishmonger Dennis Schwarze. I had the pleasure of meeting both Melina and Dennis on my tour, and (like their fellow stallholders), are only too happy to chat with their customers about what’s in season, or fresh from the oven.
Head to The Bazaar for a shopping mecca of clothing, accessories, jewellery, homewares and toys. Here you can hunt down some great bargains, I picked up a few things for my garden and some great surprises for my little tackers. I even spotted a clairvoyant down one of the laneways, who might just be calling my name for my visit.
2. Free Foodie Tours
If you are passionate about food provenance and love to indulge in the ultimate market experience, then the Dandenong Market Food Discovery Tour is for you. All foodies on the FREE one hour tour receive a free Dandenong Market shopping bag and some delicious food samples.
Taking place Tuesdays and Fridays at 10am, the tour is the perfect way to experience the Market. Bookings are essential, head over to the Dandenong Market website to book your spot on the tour.
3. Seasonal Produce
If you demand fresh and local fruit and vegetables, then Dandenong Market is for you. With an incredible range of organic, seasonal and exotic produce, you’re sure to score yourself some great value for money buys.
Likewise in the Meat, Fish & Deli Hall, you’ll find specialist cuts of meats, freshly caught Australian seafood, a multitude of vibrant coloured spices and international flavours with a distinct local connection. I picked up some Yellowtail fish fillets for my Friday night dinner. The fish was caught along the Bega coastline and on my plate within 24 hours (yum)!
You’ll also discover beekeepers who sell honey from their own beehives, florists who sell roses grown on their own farms, and a wonderful range of seasonal produce that’s fresh all year round. The selection is endless!
4. Insider tips from expert traders
Locals and visitors to Melbourne will both be thrilled to know that insider tips from the Dandenong Market traders are only a question away. Foodies passionate about multicultural produce and spices can discover all their favourite flavours, as well as exciting new ones, accompanied by recipe suggestions and a plethora of insightful information.
Stock up on every ingredient you can imagine (not to mention some you might never have dreamed of!) with the confidence in knowing where it came from, and great ways to incorporate it into your everyday cooking.
5. Street Food
Market Square at Dandenong Market is home to some of the best street food I’ve discovered. Under the pretty hanging lights you can indulge in everything from scrumptious, hot jam donuts to an authentic Sri Lankan goat curry. Wash it all down with freshly-crushed sugar cane juice – my tip would be to try the hot ginger cane juice, it tastes like goodness in every mouthful.
The Market’s new outdoor dining area The Terrace is home to Hot Pouch Bar & Dining, who serve up a range of eats including an all-day breakfast, traditional Australian pub food like chicken parmas, and freshly prepared acai bowls and vegan delights. The area has a great street vibe under the black and white striped umbrellas and is the perfect posy for a sneaky wine or cocktail after a shop-til-you-drop session.
6. ‘M is for Market’
Melbourne is home to a thriving arts scene and Dandenong Market embraces the vast wealth of cultural and artistic connection it has on offer. ‘M is for Market‘ is a fun new sculptural piece by Melbourne artist, Anne Ross. Her works range in scale from intimate pieces, through to large outdoor public sculptures, such as her ‘mouse-like’ creation at Dandenong Market.
Funded by Creative Victoria to commemorate the Market’s 150th anniversary, the ‘M is for Market’ sculpture can be found in Market Square, right next to Perfect Coffee. Unveiled late last year, the sculpture is made of bronze and weighs over two tonnes. The playful design ensures it engages with a very broad demographic of market visitors, regardless of age, race and religion.
7. Discover the Market’s rich history
Dandenong Market has been operating since 1866 and is Victoria’s second oldest market. I love hearing about the vast history of iconic landmarks in Melbourne, and the Market’s community brings together over 150 nationalities under one roof, so it has endless multi-cultural stories to tell.
I’m told that the Market has played a crucial role in the development of the greater Gippsland region, supporting local farmers and small business in the area since its inauguration. Dandenong Market was relocated from it’s original site to it’s current location (on the corner of Clow and Cleeland Streets) in 1926, and with two major redevelopments taking place over the past twenty years, the Market ensures a great day out for all the family, and continues to grow with the community around it.
Win a $200 Dandenong Market voucher!
To celebrate our love of Market life, we are proudly giving away a Dandenong Market voucher (valued at $200) to one lucky Melbourne Girl reader.
To enter, tell us in the comments below…
“What you look forward to discovering at Dandenong Market?”
One winner will receive a $200 AUD Dandenong Market voucher.
Prize is not transferable and cannot be taken as cash.
Entries open until May 30, 2017.
The winner will contacted via entering email and announced in the comments below.
Good Luck x
Corner of Clow and Cleeland Street, Dandenong VIC 3175
Open every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday from 7am, and Sundays from 10am.