Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

The Queen Victoria Market has been a historical landmark in inner Melbourne city for over one hundred years. Affectionately termed by locals as “the Queen Vic” this has been a popular destination for tourists and locals alike for fresh produce, fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and poultry, clothes and Australian souvenirs. The Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere and is the perfect place to spend a morning, afternoon or day.

The Queen Victoria Market was officially opened in 1878 on March 20th, and whilst over time many other markets struggled to attract and keep consumers travelling to attend, the Queen Victoria Market is still a thriving destination for shoppers. The market is open five days a week – from 5am to 5pm Tuesday, and Thursday to Sunday. There are several main precincts at the market including a Deli Hall, Meat Hall, Fruit & Veg, Organics, General Merchandise, Victoria & Elizabeth Street Shops, F Shed Shops, Market Place Food Court and String Bean Alley each area providing an enormous hive of activity, smells, sights and sounds. 

In an attempt to capture the hive of activity and general buzz of excitement at the market I ventured down on a typically rainy Autumn day in Melbourne to the Queen Vic and photographed a day at the market. I arrived at the market around five am to capture the hum buzz of early morning stall holders, unloading their produce and driving crates into place with their forklifts. 

Undeterred by the weather, shoppers flock to the market from 6am to get the pick of the crop. The butchers and fishermen are cutting their pigs, rolling their pork roasts, descaling and cutting their fish and tying up their live mud crabs for sale. The sights and sounds are exciting and varied, from live animals for sale to pigs on the chopping board. As soon as you enter the Meat Hall you are confronted by the smell of meat so fresh the blood stains the market floor before the cleaners arrive to remove any trace of butchery.

Around 9am the shop owners come in and start setting up their stalls for merchandise and clothing. Big steel crates are wheeled in with boxes of products to be unpacked and put on display. A large array of children, tourists, young and old come to the market to fill their personalised shopping trolleys with a variety of hard to find groceries, clothing, merchandise and even ready to lay hens!

The market begins its pack down at 4pm where the cleaners and forklift drivers are brought in to load up the trucks and clean up the market area where empty boxes, discarded fresh produce, damaged goods are grated off to the bins, before the max exodus of people leaving the market after a full day of shopping to head back home.

Here are some of the photographs I took whilst amongst the hive of activity at the market.

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5am at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. Early morning shoppers shop early to grab a bargain.

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Man preparing the fresh produce for display and sale at the market.

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Early morning at the Meat Hall. Butcher preparing pork cuts.

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Butcher checks the display of meat produce in his shop.

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Tourist giving the butcher a thumbs up for selecting the perfect piece of meat.

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Fish monger in the meat hall selling fresh fish at the Queen Vic Market.

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Regular market go-ers with their personalised shopping trolleys make their selections at their favourite fruit and veg stalls.

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Ready to lay chickens, for sale at the market.

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Woman purchasing fresh farmers brown eggs at the market.

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Woman taking her father out for his grocery shopping at the Queen Victoria Market

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Shoppers and tourists come to buy gifts from dozens of hand crafted specialty stalls at the Queen Victoria Market. These are handmade leather animal pouches, purses, mobile phone holders.

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Stall holder in the Fruit and Veg Hall restocking the melons.

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This man filled his shopping trolley with fresh fruit and vegetables, purple cauliflower, green cauliflower and avacados.

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Shoppers leave the market with shopping trolleys full of their purchases.

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Clean up at the market – man carting away empty boxes to be disposed of.

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