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Market Insider Shopping Tour - Queen Victoria Market

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by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published September 13th 2012
New tour of the Queen Victoria Market
A new Market tour


Perhaps like me you had given up on the Queen Victoria Market. Not on the fresh produce or deli sections, which are always bustling -- indeed bristling with excitement, but on the merchandising sheds.

Row upon row of socks, t-shirts and clothes mostly mass-produced in overseas factories.

row upon row


It is okay if you just want touristy stuff like T-shirts with DOWN UNDER emblazoned on them, or plastic road signs with KANGAROOS NEXT 5KM or even clip on koalas. But in general most of us would prefer to leave such fodder for foraging tourists. Although why you would want to take something made in China, back to China, beats me.

Which is why I was drawn to the brand new tour - Insider Shopping Tour - which helps visitors navigate past the dross to the secret gems in the merchandising area.

We meet our tour guide the lovely and warm Carmel McNally. Fittingly she is dressed from head to toe, in garb she has bought from the market.

Just as you don't take cooking tips from a skinny chef, unless they are diet related, it is hard to take shopping tips from someone for whom shopping is an anathema.

It soon became clear that Carmel is a kindred shopaholic, she can smell a bargain from across the street and is soon regaling us with stories of what she bought for whom and for how much. "A scarf for an uncle, cost just $10 and my teenage niece loves this roll on perfume." Or as she puts it "all my wages get recycled at the Market."

At every shop she sniffs and fondle goods with obvious - almost cooing delight.

"All my wages get recycled at the Market"


Firstly she takes us to the specialist shops that line the market's edge. Like many people I had never managed, after tiring myself out with food shopping, to get up this far.

We wander into a jewellery shop. "Trinkets from $2 to $200" says Carmel. "Many a woman has stopped off here on her way to the Cup to buy matching jewellery for an outfit."

Cup finery


She shows us the animal hats from Nepal. "You think they would be great for kids. But no, all the university students are wearing them."
Hats a favourite with uni students


We spend quite some time in a shop called Madame Pompodaur. This is a pink flummery, a visual feast for the senses selling French and vintage inspired fashion, accessories and home wares. No-one really wants to leave, except the young man who has come along with his girlfriend and is a bit of a ring-in on this otherwise all female tour.

A pink romp at Madame Pompodaurr


Frilly fun


Pink and cute


Pink palace


That said, the tour changes depending on the dynamics of the group. For example, we do go to the sports shop, we just don't get caught up there. Like some blokes and I guess some women might.

We also spend quite some time in Parlour, which sells perfumes, powders and exquisite candles. Carmel delights in telling us how the two girls who started this business, as a small market stand, developed it into this heavenly scented shop. Their goods now retail in both London and New York.

Perfume plus


At Koori Connections, we meet owner Julie Pierce. She sells authentic Aboriginal products including artwork, pottery, books, clothing and didgeridoos. Before the shop opened she had a traditional smoking ceremony of the premises. She is passionate about giving back royalties to the Aboriginal artists and her son Daniel often plays the didgerdoo for customers. "He has been playing since he was three" she tells us.

Koori Connections


We have a few tastings at Rewine an innovative merchant that sells great wine straight from barrels. You simply bring your own bottle. One customer has had the same bottle refilled over 300 times. The refills only cost around 6 to 8 dollars.

We will all have some of that


While Suga is a chain, it is great to go to their market shop where the music blares and the guys really get into the rock and roll of it as they mould the huge mounds of candy down to the tiny sweets they have for sale. You can also buy sweets that have the words "I LOVE MELBOURNE" embedded in the centre.

This takes muscles


These are just a few of the places we stop on this tour. To tell you them all would be to give away all Carmel's secrets - especially her fascinating stories about Green Bean Alley which is the latest Market precinct and a hive of human creativity. The best part was visiting the artisans here and talking to them about their handmade items. This area is so worthy I will be devoting a separate article to it. See links below.

As Carmel says "Most people run out of puff after their food shopping and they don't get up this far."

So glad to have done this tour with Carmel and to have so many wonderful finds to go back to over and over again.

Thank you Carmel it was fun!


As a special introductory offer tours will run FREE of charge until 28 October 2012. Bookings are essential as places are limited.

Includes: Shopping discounts, coffee and a green bag to take home your bargain buys.

Meeting Point: 69 Victoria Street

Can also book online tours@qvm.com.au
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Why? To prise open the Queen Victoria Market's secret spots and shops.
When: When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (excludes public holidays) Time: 10.00am 12.30pm
Phone: Phone bookings (03) 9320 5822.
Where: Queen Victoria Market Melbourne
Cost: $32
Your Comment
I very much enjoyed reading your write-up on this tour. Will try and get onto it whilst it is still free.
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1596) 2690 days ago
As a trader in the top end of the market I love these tours - the interaction with participants is great and we just love showing off our wares. - Greg Smith
by grega (score: 0|5) 2689 days ago
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