I am a mum of two and Primary School teacher whose aim is to never be home during the midday movie. I believe that I am only ever a car trip away from an adventure.
Published September 25th 2013
Update July 1st 2020
The market is now permanently closed and no longer trading.
So much more than just a market
In my house the mention of a market gets a very mixed reaction. Madam 9 is all up for a bit of bargain hunting but alarm bells start ringing for Miss 6. So when I mentioned a visit to the Caribbean Markets it resulted in a perfect combination of joy and absolute despair. We went regardless and four hours later I found myself nagging the both of them to leave. I'm not sure who was the most surprised, probably Miss 6.
Where to start?
The Caribbean Gardens and Market is so much more than just a market, it's a kids wonderland and a family hotspot and will certainly entertain, engage and attract the fussiest of kids. There is of course the market component which is well worth a visit, particularly if you're after a new iPhone or iPad cover. They seemed to be available in abundance.
You never know when a girls going to need a hat.
The market place is huge and is housed within a 10,500m2 pavilion. Over 1200 stalls are laden in toys, clothes, souvenirs, DVDs and lots of fresh fruit and produce. If you can't find it here, you may not be able to find it anywhere. The market is mainly undercover with some 150 stalls spilling into the sunshine on sunnier days. It can get very busy in there and after a while it felt as if we were seeing the same thing or similar things popping up in different locations over and over again.
Did I happen to mention there were bird aviaries.
However, the market itself is only a small draw card to this expansive area. There are numerous playgrounds, I think my last count was five. Each is unique in it's own way and kids were running from one to another over and over again. Infact it's safe to say you could spend the whole day just playground hopping. There were ones with swings, pole horses to climb, flying foxes, things that spin and bridges to cross. I don't think I saw the same piece of equipment more than once. Actually some of the equipment I don't think I've seen since the 80s!
Two old tanks work well for climbing
There's also rides to go on including a chairlift, jungle cruise and a mini train that takes you on a rattly 5km scenic tour around the perimeter of the gardens. These rides cost $4 a person and are available on all the days the market is open. There was also a couple of jumping castles, a ball pit, bungee trampolines, a petting zoo and dodgem style cars as well. These normally operate only on Sundays but are a school holiday treat and were highly popular with all the kids. The jumping castle was a good deal at $3 for a 15 minute bouncing period. And if that's not enough to fill a day how about a round of mini golf? There's even a course set up right near the beautiful Caribbean Lake which is the centre piece of the luscious green lawns.
Take a picturesque ride on the Caribbean Gardens own train.
All that activity is sure to create hungry and thirsty tummies and there are many options available to visitors when hunger growls. There's an eating court and cafe with all your regular fare sandwiches, pies, fish and chips, chicken parmas, ice cream and donuts. Or you can bring your own food and take advanced of the many shady spots, picnic tables or even the woodfire barbecues where free wood is provided.
You can always relax in a shady mushroom if you need a break.
The market and gardens area is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 8:30am. There is free entry on all weekdays but a small admission fee is charged on Sundays, $2.50 for an adult and $1 for a child. This is a super complex which you may not be able to fully explore in a single day. We certainly couldn't. There really is something for everyone here whether your a bargain hunter or an outdoors fan, this is the place for you. I am even glad to report that now when I mention the word "market" it's met with excitement and cheer from both parties.
Great article about the Carribean Market and Gardens. I've been going there since a child and it has always been a special place. Now i go to the market there and take my children to the playgrounds. Sometimes we go for a picnic under the willow trees by the beautiful lake and feel the cool breeze on a sunny day. Oh it's just magical!!