10 weekend markets to visit in tropical north Queensland
Tropical North Queensland tropical climate invites visitors into the outdoors where markets are part of the shopping experience. Queensland markets number in the hundreds with no excuses why you have run out of freshly harvested produce. For visitors though it is sometimes difficult to choose where to go as you are not in the hunt for next week’s vegetables rather quirky original, one of a kind gifts. The list is focused on the tropical far north of Queensland with Noosa slipping in as you are likely to be driving past on your way north.
NOTES: Opening hours — check websites and facebook links for latest updates. This list excludes Brisbane as the city has over twenty weekend markets and counting.
The Noosa Farmers Market
Is a doyenne and market leader attracting locals and visitors alike. Fresh produce, freshly squeezed tropical juices to sip while ambling around the market. Just look at the nut butter milk displays and you will feel healthy. Pineapple juice anyone? The street food stalls provide visitors with the necessary energy boost to peruse the artisan and craft stalls. Crafts are authentic, designed and made locally. If you are in luck the local producer is at the stall marketing their wares.
What else to do nearby
- Who needs Bali or French Riverina when you have Hasting St to amble up and down sauntering with hip locals
- Go for a brisk walk to Alexandria Bay for a quiet swim
Check out nearby Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre up and coming workshops.
Palm Cove Markets
An urban hip town with a tropical landscape is home to a market showcasing local, quality handmade products from contemporary jewellery, leather work, pottery, clothes, skincare, plants and produce, wellness stalls and pop up food stalls. Palm Cove is a seaside village with an attractive esplanade framed by centuries old “paperbark” trees.
What to do nearby
- Order a fruit cocktail at any one of scores of bars and restaurants nearby
- People watch on the Esplanade while using the free BBQ
- Retail therapy is a given in Palm Cove, shopping temptations around every corner
Esplanade Market – Cairns Esplanade
The lagoon with its much photographed fish sculptures is the setting for another tourist focused market. Cairns is awash with shops catering for cruise ships, day trippers on bus tours and the intrepid visitor willing to ferret out the gems Cairns has. As befitting its status as a tourist / visitor hub there are numerous mass produced imported goods among the locally produced wares. The market is very useful to replace or find new clothing, trinkets and souvenirs. Most stallholders are used to visitors asking where goods were made and bargaining is not out of the question either. It is a great family destination with the proximity of the lagoon, the plethora of cheap goods on sale for younger members of the group to try their hand at getting a bargain.
- Take a dip in the Lagoon to cool off
- Check out the numerous waterfront restaurants
- Discover Cairns’ Rich History at our Research Centre and Cairns Museum is air conditioned, a plus in the tropical heat as well as the repository of fascinating stories about settlement in the tropical north. A great gift shop for authentic locally sourced ware.
Rusty’s Markets – Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, Coffee, Breads, Seafood, Flowers, Clothing, Jewellery and chocolate Cairns. Foodies rejoice, lovers of delicious innovative food Rusty’s is a must visit location even if you do not intend to buy anything. Although it is likely you will be drinking freshly squeezed mango juice before long. The market specializes in yummy taste and the scent of recently baked bread. Rusty’s boasts over 180 stalls featuring exotic fruit, vegetables, and flowers, sumptuous delicatessens with fresh breads, dairy, and seafood.
What to do nearby
- Visit the Cairns botanic gardens and take a guided tour to learn more about the flora and fauna
- Cairns estuary fishing with fresh fish potentially on the menu
- Lunch at Jaques Family Coffee Plantation and take a tour of a coffee plantation. Jaques Cafe & Restaurant – Jaques Australian Coffee (approx 1 hour from Cairns)
Market Day Series, Tanks Art Centre
A Vibrant and a colourful market located in the Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct, just 4km north of the city’s CBD, the centre is an iconic and innovative multi-use, contemporary arts facility housed in three converted World War II naval oil storage tanks, and set amidst a lush rainforest backdrop. Wander among the crowds, and yes it is popular. Check out the quality local art, craft and collectables. There are stalls selling vintage finds from clothing to household goods. And musicians and food aplenty. A great family activity.
What to do nearby
- Cairns botanic garden walks, either the Red and Blue arrow tracks. The red arrow is a 1.3 km route and takes around 45 minutes to complete, the end result is a stunning look out over Cairns and the surrounding area.
- Visit Cairns healing playground located on the Esplanade
- Visit Cairns Aquarium – The Adventure Begins! To get the lowdown on aquatic life before your Great Barrier Reef adventure.
Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets Queensland Australia
This market does not really stock fresh produce as it is squarely aimed at the visitor market. It has become a bit kitschy and commercial with imported mass goods as part of the package deal of Kuranda. The market is included as the town has natural attractions and a spectacular location which should be checked out on your Queensland adventure. And you have just lost those expensive sunglasses. Kuranda markets are a perfect place to get a cheap replica of the originals.
What else to do nearby
- Skyrail gondola, sweep yourself over the tropical tree tops for view that rivals any drone footage
- Take the train down the mountain and pass Barron Falls. The train helpfully stops for the compulsory photo moment
- Check out the tropical butterflies at Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
Yungaburra Markets are quintessential Tablelands, where market day is a community gathering place for local producers to market goods directly to locals. There is a community ethos with residents and neighbors sharing stories about recent happenings. Historic Yungaburra Markets is a convenient location to pick up glorious fresh produce and dairy goods the Atherton Tablelands is known for. The markets were primarily a fresh produce and artisan baked goods evolving to support the thriving Atherton Tablelands art and craft community. This is a popular tourist destination due to its location in Yungaburra.
- Heritage Yungaburra is definitely worth checking out
- Petersen Creek Walk and platypus viewing platform viewing, best time is early morning and late afternoon
- Find a 800 year old Curtain Fig tree and walk around the boardwalk.
Coral Sea Memorial Park is a dreamy name for a picturesque location. The new waterfront park is a great idea for a weekend amble. Get into the spirit of a small seaside town, enjoy a brunch from the many pop up food stalls. Cardwell Jetty Markets support local artists however due to the size of the market you will not see the range of art and craft stalls present in either Port Douglas or Noosa. Cardwell Markets are an easy choice for people with families as there is plenty beside the market to keep them occupied.
- Hinchinbrook Island has never looked so tempting
- Stroll on the Jetty, take in the magnificent views of Hinchinbrook Island, Australia’s largest Island National Park.
- Investigate the foreshore plantings and art installations imaginatively and encourage you to stay awhile in Cardwell.
NOTE: There is an alternative market location, Cardwell Coral Sea Memorial Park.
Mission Beach Markets
Perhaps the best markets for handmade jewellery, up and coming artisan goods and one of a kind craft. Local markets are held at several locations in Mission Beach, throughout the year. There are Beach Markets and the Monster Markets. These Mission Beach Markets are held on the beachfront under the shade of the tropical canopy. There is a community atmosphere although it is obviously a commercial market. And if you are in luck it gets even bigger with the Monster Markets on the last Sunday of each month.
- Dunk Island is ridiculously close; it would be a crime not to check out.
- Mamu tropical skywalk is a splendid introduction to the treetops world of a tropical rainforest
- Explore quirky castles built in the tropics
Community Markets, Cooktown
You are likely not to find the art and craft selection of Noosa and elsewhere however you will find personality. Lots of original north Queensland characters frequent the markets offering a knitted tea cosy knitted with discarded fishing nets or a painting by an up and coming artist. Together with an assortment of fresh produce, food stalls and nick knacks from cupboards you will thoroughly enjoy mingling with the locals.
- Find Captain Cook’s memorial and admire the views
- Visit the local botanic gardens and take in the orchids in all their glorious splendor
- Lunch at the iconic Sovereign Resort Hotel on the veranda and imagine yourself as a nineteenth century explorer.
Travel Pack Information
- COOROY BUTTER FACTORY ARTS CENTRE – Home The Butter Factory Arts Centre is run by the Cooroy Future Group as an exhibition, workshop and events venue, which also includes a separate pottery studio. There is also an artist-run cooperative gift shop of handmade items including pottery, jewellery, cards, and much more… We are committed to aiding artists in their experimentation and growth, as well as bringing exciting work to the public. The gallery strives to create a sense of community amongst both exhibitors and viewers; a place where the arts are accessible and dynamic. The Butter Factory Arts Centre is staffed and assisted by Cooroy Future Group volunteers.
- Mossman, a Daintree settlement has a market for those on the Cairns to Cooktown route. Worth a detour to check out the local personality of Mossman and enjoy a freshly squeezed mango juice.
The journey is worth it.