A Tour of Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market

Why join a tour of Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market when you can easily walk around the overflowing stalls of fresh produce, clothing and other goods yourself? For me it’s about discovering the market’s history, learning more about the produce and meeting some of the vendors.

Locals do this tour too

With me on the tour are two good friends from Melbourne, a man also from NSW and overseas visitors from Brazil, Indonesia and the USA. There’s a buzz of activity all around us. People pulling shopping trolleys, colourful bunches of flowers poking out the top, weave their way through the crowded aisles.

Mushrooms from Queen's Harvest at the Queen Victoria Market Melbourne
Magic Mushrooms

Sonia, our guide, is a Melbourne woman with an Italian background. She explains that the Market opened in 1878. Pointing to the open-air car park she says that area was the site of Melbourne’s first cemetery for early settlers.

People are very much alive here as they shop here for their weekly supplies of fresh produce. Prices are good and there’s a large variety of fruit and veg which “stays fresh for two weeks,” says Sonia.

The Specialty Shopping Area

The market isn’t all fresh produce. We begin walking through the “Specialty Shopping” area. Sonia waves to the chap at Brick Lane Brewery. While this isn’t the main food area, but there’s food here. Mediterranean Pastry has put a sampling tray out. I try a yummy savoury cheese bite.

Pastries at Queen Victoria Market
Mediterranean Pastry
Tasting treats on a tour of the Queen Victoria Market Melbourne
Turkish Delight

BB’s Jewellery specialises in hand crafted opal pieces. The stall has operated here for 46 years. Placing a hand inside one of his colourful socks, Bruce of Bruce Goose socks explains the properties of merino versus cotton. Merino socks “will dry in three hours” he says and “doesn’t smell like cotton does.”

Socks from Bruce Goose
Bruce Goose
Hats at Queen Victoria Market
Need a Hat?

Rows of hats, tables of certified Aboriginal souvenirs and artworks and Kashmiri shawls line the wide aisles. We taste Australian made Turkish Delight from a man wearing a traditional waistcoat over a chequered flannelette shirt. He’s standing inside his imported circular stand made from delightfully crafted copper-like metal complete with gold trimmed red curtains.  

Tour the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne
Kashmiri Shawls

Many of the vendors at the Queen Victoria Market have sold their wares here for many years. Some sell fruit and veg, others meat, seafood, dairy and deli products.

Meat and Seafood

In the meat and seafood section shoppers crowd around refrigerated displays of fresh gourmet produce. Sonia encourages us to ask questions. The vendors will happily share their knowledge on the best cut of meat or type of seafood for a particular recipe.

Meat Market Melbourne
Seafood Market Melbourne

Sonia hands out Queen Victoria Market branded calico bags and packs of cutlery. The yummy part of the tour is about to begin. First off, Tasmanian oysters. I love oysters, and these are fresh and creamy. They’re up there with the best.  

Tasmanian Oysters on a tour of the Queen Victoria Market
Oyster Anyone?

The Dairy Hall

In the Dairy Hall, Sonia points out the art deco decor. Each shop’s name is painted on windows above the display cases. Some of the artwork is original with gold paint detail referencing the gold rush. One of the Melburnians comments that there’s a “good character about it. I’ve never taken much notice [before]…all the glass and the windows.”

Dairy Hall Queen Victoria Market
Old Shop Old Signage
The Chicken Pantry in Queen Victoria Market
Can you see the Kangaroo?

I feel the same away. When I visited the market previously, I just walked through, looking at the food. This time Sonia encourages us to look at the building and the décor. We follow her as she weaves her way through the throng of shoppers. Her mustard-coloured jacket is easy to spot in the crowd.

Food From Around the World

Large pats of butter stand one on top of the other in the window of the last butter specialist left in the market.Salamis hang in deli windows. There are rows of fresh bread and cabinets of cheeses. The Hellenic Deli sells imported Greek produce and in the Polish Deli I spy a poppyseed cake, a favourite in my husband’s family.

Greek at Queen Victoria Market
Hellenic Deli
Poppyseed cake at Polish Deli
Polish Deli

Various nationalities migrated to Melbourne over the years, including Greeks and Italians. They brought with them bringing new ingredients and cooking styles to Australia all of which are on display here.

Tasting the Produce

My mouth is watering and I’m more than ready to sample some produce. We eat yummy artichokes, stuffed olives and marinated fetta. The wild boar sausage is deliciously juicy and I’ll return for the kangaroo marinated in red wine. We tuck into freshly cooked pumpkin ravioli lightly covered in a tomato sauce.

Fresh produce at Queen Victoria Market
Try this
Wild Boar and Kangaroo Meat Melbourne
Wild Boar and Kangaroo

Cheese from the Corner Larder

Kevin, of the Corner Larder, knows his cheese. He’s had a cheese shop here for thirty years and has prepared a tasting tray of three cheeses for us this morning. The first is a queso de cabra or Spanish Goat’s cheese. The hard cheese has a pleasantly smooth and mild flavour.

Corner Larder sells great cheese
Kevin with three cheese

I like smoked cheese and the Welsh cheese smoked with beechwood is delicious. Usually wary of blue cheese, I find that the Milawa blue from northern Victoria isn’t too strong for me. After all that tasting, it’s time to visit the fresh fruit market.


On our way there, we step inside Rewine, a sustainable wine shop. I’d read about Rewine in the inflight magazine on my flight down to Melbourne. Once you’ve drunk their bottled wine, gin, olive oil or cider, you can return the bottles to be refilled in the shop. It’s the perfect way to reuse rather than recycle bottles.

Rewine Melbourne
Reuse Your Wine Bottles

Queen’s Harvest

In the fresh food market, we meet Tony of Queens Harvest. Like Kevin, he has prepared a treat for us. First off, a finger lime. At $250/kg this is an expensive fruit. I recall an Aboriginal man telling me that finger limes give a “burst of flavour.” Tony cuts a couple open, releasing tiny balls which look a little like caviar. Tony says that the fruit quenches thirst and is good with natural oysters and Gin and Tonic.

Queen's Harvest Melbourne
Watch that Knife, Tony

He then cuts up a Missile apple. This small crisp red apple is the perfect size for a child’s lunch box. The third fruit Tony offers us is an acid free pineapple. They are “always sweet and the core is edible,” he says as he demonstrates how to peel and cut the fruit. It’s best to buy them green without the crown.


We end this food tour of the Queen Victoria Market with dessert. There’s always a queue for the hot fresh doughnuts from The American Doughnut Kitchen. They have been selling doughnuts here for 70 years. Hot and filled with raspberry jam, it’s the perfect end to a great morning discovering Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market.  

Hot Jam Doughnuts at American Doughnuts Melbourne
We Jumped the Queue

Is the Tour of Melbourne’s Victoria Market Worthwhile?

Could I have experienced the market on my own? Yes, I could have. But my experience of the market was richer for having done the tour. I got to taste a variety of produce on offer and I met and heard from interesting stall holders.  

Butter Producer in Queen Victoria Market
Who Buys Butter Pats?

And a Hot Chocolate to End the Morning

Before leaving the market, I find Mork Chocolate, another place I’d read about in the inflight magazine. They’re a specialty hot chocolate store. I choose a hot chocolate with a bit of theatre attached. There’s smoke involved. It’s thick and delicious.

Mork Hot Chocolate
That’s my hot chocolate

NOTE: I joined the tour at my own expense

Useful Information

  • Find out more about the Queen Victoria Market Tours here
  • Find out more about Rewine here
  • Find out more about Mork Hot Chocolate here


  1. Did you experience the “burst of flavour” from the finger lime caviars? What colour was the finger lime?

    1. Author

      Definitely a “burst of flavour” from the green finger limes, Lindee. We had red ones recently in the Clare Valley with our king fish cevice.

  2. Joanne, I was intrigued that you found an inflight magazine! I thought they’d gone the way of the tiny free packets of nuts on domestic flights.
    I wonder why Melbourne manages wonderful markets like this one and others (South Melbourne, Prahan) yet Sydney’s equivalent is a decidedly sad Paddy’s Market.

    1. Author

      I flew Rex, Mandela. And they not only have inflight magazines. They serve a choice of sweet or savoury packeted biscuits with tea or coffee. All complimentary. I’ve flown Rex 3x recently- Merimbula, Melbourne and Adelaide and now they’re my airline of choice.
      We went to Adelaide market – story to come – and BK’s comment was ” I wish they had a market like this in Sydney.” Only Carriageworks comes close!

    1. Author

      It is, Charlene. We don’t have a market quite like this here in Sydney

  3. From cemetery to market…. it’s a good place to end. Looks like a big market with much to explore.

Leave a Comment