Soak up the colour and the character, the smells and the sounds clunk and clash in a cacophony of the excitement of these 12 great markets.
Everyone loves a market don’t they? The colour and the character, the smells and the sounds clunk and clash in a cacophony of excitement. Shoppers, of course, know the thrill of perusing market stalls, their noses sniffing out a bargain here, a one-off piece there. But markets are not just for shoppers, they’re good for eaters too! Gardeners, re-cyclers, and up-cyclers will also likely find something of interest.
But one of the best reasons for visiting the markets is for the people-watching value. There’s no need to dress up, in fact dressing down is recommended to ensure you don’t stand out too much. Pull up a deck chair, slurp on a freshly cracked coconut and soak in the tropical atmosphere – you’re sure to be entertained.
Whatever your interest, here’s 12 markets to kick-start your market hopping in Tropical North Queensland.
1. Cairns Esplanade Markets
When: Sat 8am – 4pm
Where: On the Esplanade near the Lagoon, Cairns
Why: Gifts, trinkets, souvenirs, art, crafts and music, the Esplanade Markets are a great place to find something unique from TNQ to take home to loved ones. If the bargain hunting gets too heated slip into the Lagoon to cool off of pop across the road for a cold one at one of the waterfront restaurants.
2. Cairns Night Markets
When: Open daily from 5pm-11pm
Where: 71-75 The Esplanade, Cairns
Why: The night markets allows you have have a walk on the Esplanade and grab dinner before launching a quest for bargains at the Market. Here, you’ll find food stalls, clothing, arts, crafts, accessories, jewelleries and even a massage and beauty sector.
3. Cooktown Markets
When: Sat 7.30am – Noon
Where: Lions Park, Cooktown
Why: Much like Cooktown itself, the Cooktown Markets are full of hidden pleasures. Expect an oddball mix of stalls offering trash, treasure, fresh squeezed juices, home baked cakes manned by the odd hippy or far north Queensland ‘character’. Cooktown’s full of them!
4. Kuranda Rainforest Markets
When: Daily 9am – 3pm
Where: Therwine St and Heritage Markets, Kuranda
Why: A little bit kitchsy, a little bit commercial and a whole lot of quirkiness, Kuranda is famous for its markets. Add to your Kuranda day with an immersive rainforest experience with unrivalled views of the spectacular Barron Falls and Gorge on board Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
5. Mission Beach Markets
When: First & third Sun of each month, 6.30am – noon
Where: Opposite Hideway Caravan Park
Why: Close enough to the dreamy beach that the town is famous for to taste the salt in the air, the markets offer a good mix of art, fashion, plants and home-baked food. There always seems to be someone selling mangos here no matter what time of the year!
Don’t miss: Monster Markets on the last Sun of each month 8am – 2pm at Mars Park, Mission Beach (Apr – Nov)
6. Mossman Markets
When: Sat 7am – noon
Where: Under the raintrees, downtown Mossman
Why: Didn’t you read the address? These markets are worth a visit if only to enjoy this gorgeous little town as a teaser for a trip to the Daintree Rainforest a little further north.
7. Palm Cove Markets
When: Fri 5pm – 9pm
Where: By the jetty, Palm Cove
Why: The location alone is dreamy, especially at dusk when the Coral Sea glows pink, reflecting the setting sun behind the ranges. Stroll along the jetty to check out what the fishermen are catching, have a picnic at the free waterfront BBQ’s or sip a cocktail at any one of scores of bars and restaurants nearby – consider the Palm Cove Markets as an enticing entree to a balmy beachfront evening.
8. Port Douglas Markets
When: Sun 8.30am – 1pm
Where: Anzac Park, Port Douglas
Why: Probably the best markets in north Queensland. Food, fresh produce, art, crafts, fashion, jewellery, the cute and the quirky it’s all here. If you leave Port Douglas Markets having purchased nothing you’re really not trying!
9. Rusty's Market
When: Fri 5am-6pm, Sat 6am – 3pm, Sun 6am – 2pm
Where: Grafton St Cairns
Why: Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Cairns at the markets in the heart of the city. There’s fresh local produce, artisan breads, organic meat, spices, tropical flowers, locally produced cheeses and charcuterie plus an eclectic mix of handicrafts.
10. Tanks Art Centre Markets
When: last Sun of the month 9am – 2pm (Apr – Nov)
Where: Collins Ave, Edge Hill, Cairns
Why: Arts and crafts, coffee and cake, it’s all here in one of Cairns prettiest tree-lined streets in the Botanic Gardens precinct tucked within the rainforest.
11. Yungaburra Markets
When: Fourth Sat of the month 7.30am – 12:30pm
Where: Main St Yungaburra
Why: Yungaburra Markets are typical of the Tablelands, where market day is used an excuse by locals to catch up with friends, neighbors and anyone else within earshot. Historic Yungaburra Markets are a terrific place to pick up fabulous fresh produce that the Atherton Tablelands are famous for.