Sydney Markets Flemington

Flemington: A day walk in a Sydney Suburb

Flemington as a suburb no longer exists. It’s now called Homebush West. And the market known to most as Flemington is really the Sydney Markets. That said, I alight at Flemington Station to begin my adventure for the day.

Sydney Markets

Two young women carrying bunches of flowers walk past in the opposite direction. They’ve already been to the flower market. I walk along a fence lined pathway following yellow Pedestrian signs. It is noisy. Forklift trucks laden with boxes of produce whiz past. I have a vague plan. The produce market first, then the flower market and then Paddy’s. There’s also the Market Plaza, the hotel and the craft brewery.

Working at Sydney Markets in Flemington

Man at work

Sydney Markets in Flemington

From the overpass

I turn into an area buzzing with activity, a little unsure of myself. Am I even allowed to be here? Everyone else seems to know where they are and what they are doing. They are all wearing high viz vests. I watch out for spinning forklifts. A few men nod in greeting.  I take a couple of photos. A security person walks over. He politely but firmly tells me that I need permission to take photos aand must put my camera away. He makes sure I do so.

Dodging forklifts and making a few wrong turns, I find the reception area of Sydney Markets. Helpfully, Mio gives me a permission form to complete and loans me a brand new orange high vis vest. She is going my way and offers to show me around. She explains how the large shed in front of us is used by the Growers Market from 6am to 10am and then Paddy’s moves in.

Flower market

Flowers for all occasions

Flower market in Flemington

Just a few buckets left

Food trucks and other suppliers are already lining up to drive in when the Growers Market vacates. Apparently the busy area I had wandered into earlier is the wholesale Produce Market. No wonder I looked out of place. I should have been in the Growers Market (Building D). Mio leaves me to take photos.

Flower Market

I’m late for the flower market. Officially it opens at 5am, and by now most of the good flowers will be sold. I can’t find how to get in. A woman whose station wagon is stuffed with flowers points me in the general direction behind some trucks.

A grand display of colour greets me. Obviously not everything has sold. The variety is almost overwhelming. Buckets of flowers are jammed together on the floor and raised up on stands.

A man in a bibbed leather apron counts his takings. An older man walks past, his apron worn with age. There’s a story behind the apron. Given to him by a carrier, he has worn it since 1966 when the markets were still in Haymarket. He jokes that the deep pockets used to overflow with money but not these days. He tells me where to get a good coffee.

Busy at Sydney Markets

Business is swift.

Grocery shopping

You need a trolley for all that shopping.

My high viz vest helps me blend in with other customers at the Italian Deli where I sit down for a decent cup of coffee. When I return with friends (I’m already planning to come back), we’ll breakfast here.

Paddy’s Markets

Suitably refreshed, I make my way to Paddy’s via the wholesale market which is already all but closed. A truck pulling trailers overflowing with empty packaging drives past. The Growers Market is over and Paddy’s has moved in. Quite efficient.

Spices at Paddy's Markets in Flemington

Very aromatic.

Paddy's Food Hall

Paddy’s Food Hall

Shoppers with granny trolleys inspect the fruit and veggies displayed at outside stalls. A man greets me and offers me some sugar snap peas. A father of four, he economises by shopping here each Friday. Inside, it is quieter. A strong fishy smell greets me. I didn’t realise you can buy fresh fish here.

And meat, chicken, cheese, nuts and small goods. There are socks, toiletries, clothes and luggage. A spicy aroma reaches me from a stall displaying pyramids of brightly coloured spices, herbs and teas.

After a quick walk through the Sydney Markets Plaza, I drop into the hotel and Paddy’s Brewery. It’s a surprising find. A beer connoisseur could finish a market visit with a craft beer.

Flemington brewery

Who would have thought to find a brewery here?

Lunch at Rams Indian & Sri Lankan Food

I leave the market and cross the railway line, looking for Rams, a Sri Lankan restaurant that’s had good reviews. The entrance is tucked away in the parking area behind Henley Road. I join the queue. I discover that these days it’s take away only. Oh well. Women in saris join the queue which isn’t moving. Do I stay and wait or go to one of the many Vietnamese places nearby?

I decide to wait it out and watch the queue growing behind me. More saris and a couple of NSW trains employees. Mat, who ordered before me, returns to pick up his order. We chat for at least ten minutes before his order is ready.

I chat with a Sri Lankan man until he too leaves with his order. Finally, my masala dosai is ready and I head for the nearby park. Sitting on the ground against the broad trunk of a palm tree, it’s a challenge eating this large tasty crispy rice and lentil pancake and sambal on my knee. The wait was almost worth it.

The local streets of Flemington

After lunch, I wander through the built up local streets. Rows of two and three storey brick unit blocks dominate. A few small cottages survive here and there. The many Vietnamese eateries in the small shopping strip are full. I bet their service is quicker than at Rams.

Flemington suburban streets

Not given way to developers. Yet.

Small Flemington shopping strip

A shopping strip

There’s a butcher, and Indian clothes shop and another selling spices. There’s and acupuncturist and an Asian grocery and a corner shop selling what looks like everything including the kitchen sink. But no supermarket.

Flemington may no longer exist as a suburb, but the market and village shops are definitely worth a visit.

If you liked this post, you may also like to walk through

Bronte              Auburn              Gladesville

Next stop: La Perouse

Useful information:

Here is a map of the market to help you find your way.

And Paddy’s Markets opening times.

There is a Saturday Swap and Sell market: A giant garage sale

There are Monthly Market tours on the first Friday of the month

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info

And a map to assist you:
I stayed within the Market grounds to get to the Brewery. The map forced me to go via Parramatta Rd which isn’t necessary.

(You can download it here)

(NOTE that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):

Flemington Walk Map

Comments

  1. I remember Paddy’s Market when I was young right up until 1969. It was very much like Melbourne’s fantastic Queen Vic Market, but seemed to disappear (to me) as I went to Melbourne in 1970 and became totally entranced with the Queen Vic Market which is to this day a most incredible place to visit for food…….absolutely mouthwatering. From fish to meat to deli to fresh fruit and veges and SO much more. The Queen Vic is constantly being threatened with updating and renovating etc. etc. but I think it is terrible that Sydney’s Paddy’s Market has been sort of “shifted” to Flemington. It was always the heart of the City to me. A whole day’s shopping to be had and then hit Dixon Street for some fabulous chinese cuisine. I hope the people of Melbourne never, ever let this happen.

    1. Author

      I must admit I always make a point of going to the Queen Vic Market in Melbourne. It is reminiscent of some of the markets I have been to in Spain.

Leave a Comment