If you are in Melbourne and want to shop, have a leisurely lunch and want to watch a good performance all on the same day, Queen Victoria Market or Vic market as locals call it, is the place to be.
It is one of the major landmarks of the city right in the heart of the Central Building District. It is the largest open air market in Australia, established in 1878 and is one of the oldest Victorian era market in Southern Hemisphere.
It is spread over 17 acres and bears the Melbourne Coat of Arms on its facade, fleece, bull, ship and whale. Each of them representing the major activities on which the city’s economy is based, wool, livestock, shipping and whaling.
Interestingly, though it bears the name of Queen Victoria, it is not named after her but derives its name from its location, i.e. it is on the corner of Queen and Victoria Street.
Melbourne initially had three big markets but two of them, opened before Queen Victoria, were closed before 1960 and only this one remains. It has a very colourful and varied history as this forms part of the Prahan suburb and South Melbourne market.
This site had a cemetery, a livestock market and a wholesale fruit and vegetable market with each one having a history of its own.
It opens 5 days a week and remains closed on Monday and Wednesday. You could either visit it on your own or take a 2 hour guided tour through the Meat market; oldest building with live butchers and fish mongers both being here for generations.
There is Deli for tribal flavours of Kangaroo meat; you could buy fresh meat, live oysters, local cheese, handmade chocolate, clothes, luggage and so many other interesting wares. It is an experience to shop here and interestingly one of the shop signs reads “We do not yell to sell”.
Once you are done with shopping you could enjoy a live performance of magic or music while having lunch. However, do not forget to drop a few spare coins in the bowl place in front of the performer in appreciation.
It is indeed rare to find a place which allows partaking so many activities at the same time. No wonder it is major tourist attraction in the city.