Sydney's best markets
You’re spoilt for choice for truss tomatoes, plump berries, technicolour capsicums and leafy greens. The popularity of the bacon and egg rolls from Bowen’s has reached celebrity status, with queues long enough to make you think Bieber is signing autographs at the end of the line.
You can find pretty much anything here; vintage clothes, books, rugs, eco food wraps to healing crystals, rice bread and tarot reading. Pick up a paper lunch bag filled with sweet, mini plums and stop by Brooklyn Boy Bagels for a poppy seed dough with cream cheese, lox, dill and caper schmear.
Go for the pho stand for a traditional Vietnamese start to the day. There’s a bibimbap stall that will even replace the rice with shredded cauliflower if you don’t believe in cheat days, and a classic bacon and egg roll for creatures of habit, from Farmer Rod’s Free Range stall. Chef Josh Niland of Fish Butchery and Saint Peter has a permanent stall selling inventive seafood using lesser known varieties and flavours. His prawn toast is a certified hangover buster, and the cooked items sold change with the tide.
Bar Pho has been a staple of the weekly produce and snack fare for the past eight years, and the warming basil, beef and star anise-spiked stock makes a solid argument for passing on the usual bacon and egg breakfast. This stall along with Fritter House (try the lion’s share with chipolatas, sour cream, two big corn fritters, bacon and salsa) and the Raclette Shack (oozy cheese-topped potatoes are always a great idea at 10am) make the markets an excellent brunching destination.
There are rows upon rows of eccentric and colourful vintage clothes, alongside hand-crafted jewellery, accessories and new clothing designed by locals. There are vintage stalls scattered all around the market, but the smaller section just off Derby Lane at the back of the school is a goldmine and a slightly quieter place to scour through racks and try things on.
Snaking through the seemingly small parklet on the northern CBD’s fringe, this bimonthly produce fair brings stallholders peddling orbs of creamy burrata, blood sausages, double-fist-sized heirloom tomatoes, salted caramel meringues, fresh egg pasta, free range eggs and soda bread.
The second Sunday of every month sees the art, design and fashion iteration of Kirribilli’s historic (est 1976) markets, centred on the weather-proof location of the Burton Street Tunnel right under Milsons Point Train station. Here you’ll find quirky millinery by Nitascraft, hilarious knitted parrots, octopuses and Barbie outfits by Irene, and cool laser-etched wooden phone cases by Bare-wood.
You can pick up Hass avocados for $3, lush green veggies like broccoli, leeks, fennel and spinach, plus earthy Dutch cream potatoes and butternut, and boxes of free range eggs. Alongside the two main produce stalls at the church end of the street, there are fresh-cut flowers such as flowering gum for $25 and eucalyptus for $12, but also more weathered bunches of roses and dahlias.
Many of the stallholders return week on week, like the elderly Japanese couple selling Bonsai trees and the Spanish shoemakers selling espadrilles. It’s predominantly an art, clothing and design market – and alongside the kitsch bric-à-brac and Australiana-print tea towels you’ll find straw hats for $35 from local milliners and soft Tunisian-made ‘Turkish’ towels from young Eastern Suburb entrepreneurs.
The schoolyard of the Rozelle Public School has been a hive of weekend crate digging for more than 20 years, and while some stalls have almost earned long service leave, there are always newcomers keen to swap their good and chattel for some cold hard cash. You can find bargains for less than you’d spend on a coffee – it’s all about the chase.
Food is the clear focus at these weekly markets, with goods from Sydney favourites like Brickfields bakery, the ploughers from Pocket City Farm, and the cheese artisans from Kristen Allan Cheesemaker. There’s also be an activity area featuring a different workshop or demo each week, and a sustainable craft corner for kids.
The curated Sunday offerings are diverse enough to ensure you have a gloriously full basket and belly. They also pack up at a hangover friendly 2pm, meaning you can scarf a crackling spiked pork pancake and impulse buy a house plant without having to get up at sparrow’s fart.
On the third Sunday of every month, Sydney Vegan Market brings together 100 stalls selling 100 per cent plant-based food and drink, homewares, fashion, art and cosmetics from some of the biggest names in cruelty-free shopping. The set up at the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park offers a full day of eating, shopping, activism and education.
Browse the $5 rack at Not Too Shabby and pick up a fashion bargain, or find the perfect mid-century wooden coffee table at the Boneyard Retro Furniture. Several stalls have books, DVDs, CDs and vinyl: if you are looking for an LP by an obscure 1970s UK punk outfit you could be in luck.
Entertainment Quarter has been home to a fresh produce and arts and crafts market for 20 years, and in 2018 market experts Madelienne Anderson and Rebecca Fox took over the show, adding EQ to their list of market spaces around Sydney, from Watsons Bay to Cronulla. There are up to 70 stallholders peddling gourmet cheeses, ripe cherry tomatoes and piping hot gozleme.
Every Friday from 4pm, the main strip of Chinatown transforms into a vibrant night market selling Asian street food, desserts and gifts. You’ll find yum cha favourites like har gow and mango pancakes from East Ocean, or have the joy of pulling apart Mamak’s fluffy roti canai without waiting 40 minutes in line outside their permanent eateries.
The non-for-profit collective behind the market, the Westies, is all about showcasing the Penrith region while giving local growers and makers the opportunity to sell their products through an accessible event. Visitors can expect one-of-a-kind fashion items, live performances and all manner of edible treats on the third Sunday of selected months (the market now runs quarterly) at the Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School.
From lengthy flat beans, exotic looking chillies and trays of fresh berries and eggs to Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse’s traditional, crusty Italian, spelt and rye and Patisserie Bruni’s family sized quiches and Burgundy beef pies.
Start counting down to spring and mark a place on your calendar for a fair-weathered outdoor shopping excursion hosted by market masters, the Cambridge Markets. They’re setting up their regular contingent of local, artisanal stalls in Robertson Park on the bay foreshore, offering everything from high-end womenswear to children’s toys, jewellery, art, beauty and homewares.
This community-focused market has taken place in the St Andrews Church grounds since ’77 and still pops up there each Saturday. The focus is on homewares and arts and craft, with stalls selling everything from live plants to chunky jewellery and antiques.
Artisans Market Glebe is all about handmade and local products, sold direct to you by the artist or designer who created them. The quarterly market takes place at Foley Park and there are around 60 stallholders selling jewellery, plants, furniture, fashion and childrens' toys.
Renounce your fast-fashion sins and stay retro with some fabulous finds from this haven for pre-loved fashion and other eclectic goodies. There’s a mix of vintage and modern clothing – it leans towards traditionally feminine attire – and accessories, as well as handmade jewellery and funky trinkets.
Paddy's Markets in Flemington is frying up a winter version of their food-focused night market in their undercover car park. They’re filling the cavernous space with more than 25 food trucks and stalls, plus live music and a caravan of vintage cars and souped-up vehicles to inspect after dinner.
The main square hosts an organic food and farmers’ market every Saturday, and on the first Sunday of the month they close off Main Street for the Sydney Boutique Markets: more than 50 stalls selling womenswear, kidswear, jewellery, candles and the like.
Sydney markets open every day
The 150-year-old institution spans two locations – Haymarket and Flemington – and as well as the usual food, fashion and bric-a-brac, Paddy’s stallholders hawk knock-offs, tourist tat and so many mobile phone covers.
Get up early and catch the noisy wholesale fish auctions; they start at 5.30am, with tours for public starting at 6.40am. It’s the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and you won’t find more varieties of fish on sale anywhere outside Japan: it trades more than 100 species a day and over 1,400 tonnes of fish a year.
It’ll be an early morning trip – it opens in the dark hours and you wanna be an early bird – but if you can get yourself up then the effort is more than worth it. Flower shopping is about seeing what’s on offer and buying the most divine blooms on the day.