A day at the night market in Queen Victoria Market
Aug 19, 2020
Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) at daytime seems to be a normal market like many others in the world. However, when the night comes down, especially in hot and cold seasons, this market is a site of festivals taking place once a week and is usually called Winter Night Market and Summer Night Market.
CUISINE STORIES IN THE LAND OF KANGAROOS
The story is told to be in the olden days when Australia was recognized by the UK as a country under its authority, the residents living here knew only two kinds of food, namely bread and minced meat. They often ate them with salt and pepper and that’s all. Then in the 90s of last century, when the first groups of immigrants entered Australia, including Chinese, Thai, Italian and Vietnamese, the cuisine here began to bloom with various types of food. As time passed, the Indians, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, as well as many other Middle Eastern countries continued to immigrate to this multi-ethnic country, and since then no one remembers how the Australians ate in the first day…
If you are curious about Australian cuisine, it is recommended to travel to Australia and go to a winter night market in Queen Victoria Market (QVM).
If Melbourne residents often choose Woolworths and Coles – the two largest supermarket chains in Australia – to be their daily shopping places for their convenience, QVM is a fresh and high-quality choice of merchants and food lovers. The market is divided into different sections: meat and seafood, vegetables, deli (special foods such as sausages, cheese, bread, coffee, etc.), souvenirs, clothes and shoes as well as a dining area – where there are many small restaurants.
Being built in the late 1860s, this is one of the oldest markets in Melbourne. With an area of up to 7 hectares, this is also the market with the largest open-air architecture in the southern hemisphere. Because of such history and vast scale, it is not difficult for QVM to proudly occupy a position in the top 10 must-visit destinations for first-time visitors to Melbourne. To be honest, QVM is not only a must-visit destination for travellers but also a must-visit place for residents. Every month visiting QVM once is a great time for you to discover the colorful angles of our historical country.
WANDERING IN THE WINTER NIGHT MARKET
Half an hour before the market opened, the flow of people began to pull in from all over the place. Melbourne in the winter, days are short and nights are long, the sunset now has begun to fall. As the sun are going down, giving way to the dark blue night and the chill, more and more people will start entering the market. Single people, boy and girl friends, family with children, the old man taking the puppy, etc. Westerners, Asians, people of different skin colors, ages, and gender seem not to conceal their excitement shown on their happy faces and gestures.
At 5 o’clock, a series of colorful LED lights were lit up simultaneously inside the market’s campus, in stark contrast to the darkness covering the city outside. The “Winter Night Market” panel has a bright white light on one corner. And from inside, music started playing.
The night market is centered in a rectangular shape, with the border of the stalls selling food and drinks facing the center. A piece of advice for travellers is that once you have passed through the gate to get inside, immediately turn left (or right) and go along for a full lap to experience the entire night market without missing a stall.
In the middle of the market are souvenir stalls, which sell interesting stuff such as handicraft items by Australian artisans. Besides, those who are curious about their destiny can find answers from the mysterious-looking tarot huts. If you are travelling Australia with children, your kids will surely enjoy the circus performers constantly moving and performing at many locations inside the market. The organizers even arrange a drawing area with a professional and free guide so that the children can have fun while parents can have there own moments walking around.
First time visiting Queen Victoria Market, you may feel getting lost but no worry, pay attention to the sign of smoke. Where the smoke surely has a barbeque stall.
The savory smoke that brings about warmth quickly spreads through the market, carrying the scent of barbecue, which is so aromatic in the cold winter breeze. Moving quickly towards the smoke, you will see hundreds of people gathering around the food stalls! There’s no room for the cold to creep in!
UNIQUE NIGHT MARKET FOOD
Food stalls selling at QVM must be registered with the market organizer for a year. And even when having registered, sellers may still have to be on the waiting list for some times because there are various famous stalls with a history of 5 – 10 years with long-term contracts that is always in this festival.
Wonderbao is an example. Opened in 2012, the delicious dumplings with the marvelous smell of milk and the diversity of the inner filling: from grilled chicken, crispy roast pork, barbeque pork, tofu with shiitake mushrooms, taro, to egg tart, etc. of Wonderbao have always been the snack that makes Westerners “crazy”. If you’re an hour late to this night market after the opening time, perhaps you’ll have to line up after at least 30 more people to be able to buy a pair of dumplings.
Another great option that you have to try is a Spanish dish. Looking for the “Simple Spanish” booth and the skillful chefs will serve you a dish of “paella” (a form of traditional fried rice, often eaten with seafood), which has won the “the best food outside of Spain” award.
Another cuisine that will capture your love is from “Turk @ QVM” with the word “Turk” in “Turkey”. Come here to buy an enjoyable portion of pideli kofte (minced meat), and do not forget to take a video of the elegant guys of this booth skillfully brewing their country’s traditional coffees in a large cauldron filled with hot sand!
If you are passionate about Italian cuisine, don’t miss the famous “That’s Amore Cheese” booth to try the spaghetti noodles mixed directly inside Grana Padano cheeses which weighs up to 40 kg!
And to finish, get yourself surprised to devour the heavenly taste of the “Hot Donuts” filled with strawberry jam in the mini truck lying modestly waiting for visitors outside the market campus. This is one of the famous stalls that has existed for a long time at QVM market day and night and has always been a sweet and chewy dessert of many travellers..
Some notes for you when walking around the night market
- You can catch a free tram from the city center to QVM.
- The market has free clean water fountains.
- Not all booths support card payment, so make sure to bring some cashes. Although there are ATMs inside the market, during peak hours, it may take a long time to queue up if you need to withdraw money.
- No need to wear too many coats because there are many firewood and gas fireplaces inside the market.
- Please go all the way before you start eating! You won’t want your stomach full when you only explore half of the booths.
- Winter night market in QVM takes place from 5 pm to 10 pm on every Wednesday, from 5/6 to 28/8 annually
Some other dishes to try at the night market:
- “Spaghetti gelato”, a “bizarre” combination of Italian spaghetti and ice cream in Spago
- Chicken soup or seafood soup is poured directly inside the bread crumbs at The Soup Factory
- Pizza Margherita was awarded “World’s Best” by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana at 400 Gradi
- Polish Dumplings (dumplings) at Pierogi Pierogi
Is Queen Victoria Market open during Covid-19 pandemic?
According to recent QVM notices, the market will still open to provide fresh produce, takeaway food and everyday essentials for the local community. By August 2020, as Melbourne is under Stage 4 restrictions, people are required to stay within 5kms of your home and limit your shopping to one person per household per day. However, no worry, many traders of QVM offers home delivery and pre-order & pick-up services so everyone can keep enjoying the favourite cuisines at their home.
Above all, we at Asia Vacation Group wish you stay safe in your place if possible, practice social distancing and good hygiene to protect yourself as well as our community against the pandemic. Thus, next time, we can enjoy the night market festival at Queen Victoria Market together.