New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published April 2nd 2017
Follow the locals to Canberra's biggest market
The Old Bus Depot Markets are the largest indoor market in Canberra and have been operating for the last 13 years and are still going strong. It is held every Sunday at - you guessed it - an old bus depot which has been converted into a huge indoor market space. Inside the warehouse is a ground floor dedicated to gourmet foods, plants, cooking products, jewellery and more - then up a short ramp is another level of handcrafted goods of varying styles and designs. Many designers and gourmet food producers in Canberra start off at the Old Bus Depot Markets, to test their ranges and gain valuable feedback before starting their own business. Frugii Dessert Laboratory in Braddon, Canberra's most popular ice-creamery, is an example of this success.
As locals and visitors walk around these markets, there is something for everyone and every budget. Perhaps you enjoy browsing through old records, looking for unusual shoes, tracking down cheap plants or are searching for locally made, handmade gifts for friends. If you love markets in general, allow a couple of hours for your first visit. My tip - if you see a crowd lining up at a food stall, go and see what the fuss is about. The locals know where to go!
Original photos from the Old Bus Depot Markets Facebook
As you walk towards the markets, you can often smell it before you see it. Out the front of the entrance you will find a range of international food stalls with smoke spiralling upwards, creating tantalising aromas which draw you in. Gozleme's, dutch pancakes, quesadilla's, sizzling kebabs and French crepes are some options found each Sunday. When you walk inside, there are rows of locally-made food choices on offer, to eat as you walk around, or to buy and take home to enjoy later. There are hot coffee's, donuts, muffins, freshly popped popcorn, pastries, freshly squeezed juices, handmade chocolates, hot nuts, pies, souvlakis and sourdough. If you enjoy cooking at home there are indian spice packs, relish's, flavoured olive oils, local honey, pickled vegetables and jams. Take your appetite to the markets, as well as some money, as you can easily walk out of the food section with a basket full of delicious goodness - most of which will be lucky to leave the markets!
Buy home-made pies and sausage rolls to eat as you walk around, or take home for later
The next level of the markets showcases a range of designers who sell handmade clothing, jewellery, homewares, clocks, furniture, photography, paintings and mirrors - and that would be just be one aisle. Although the prices on this level may be higher than a traditional market, they reflect the time taken to make each piece and the work that has gone into the product. I have walked around these markets with friends and we have all been attracted to something different. One friend spent half an hour choosing handmade buttons for a second hand jacket that she had up-cycled and another spent time sorting through the skeins of hand dyed wool to find the perfect colour combination. Male friends have admired the sleek lines of the hand-crafted wooden furniture and I enjoy looking at the hand-sewn handbags and childrens clothing made at home - with a modern twist. What will attract your eye?
Skeins of wool to choose from. Source: Old Bus Depot Markets Facebook
Colourful handbags, purses and cases. Source: Old Bus Depot Markets Facebook
The positive and relaxed Sunday atmosphere is one of the reasons why Canberra locals go back week after week. The whole Kingston Foreshore, where the markets are situated, has a relaxed feeling each weekend as locals and visitors flock to the cafes along the waterfront. The markets are just a short walk up from the foreshore, so many people visit the markets before or after breakfast or a walk along Lake Burley Griffin. There is often live music playing somewhere in the markets, which adds to the upbeat vibe and bustling atmosphere. There is also a real community feel to the markets, as many of the market stalls remain the same each week, so they have regular customers they get to know and have a laugh with. See the You Tube clip below to get an idea of the atmosphere and fun of this colourful and popular market:
Other Things To See & Do...
Also, at every change of season, the Old Bus Depot Markets co-incides with the Three Sixty Fashion Markets, which are held just in front of the markets in the Fitters Workshop. Three Sixty Fashion Market is a niche Canberra market dedicated to sustainable fashion and bringing fashion full circle - hence the name, recycling fashion 360 degrees. There is a real vintage and retro feel about these second hand, quality markets, with style oozing out from every market stall. See here for the next date of these popular markets.
Next door to the Old Bus Depot Markets is the Canberra Glassworks, which is open between 10am - 4pm, the same time as the markets. This is a free attraction to walk into, with a gallery and store downstairs to buy hand-blown glass and upstairs is the Hotshop, where you can watch teachers and students learn the art of glass blowing with hot ovens. Canberra Glassworks is located inside an impressively tall building, built in the early 1900's as the Kingston Powerhouse. For somewhere else to eat, Brodburger is also located at the entrance to the Canberra Glassworks, for the juiciest burgers in town.
Of course, all of this is located at the Kingston Foreshore, with a strip of cafes, gastropubs and restaurants lining Lake Burley Griffin.
Experience the colour and fun of the Three Sixty Fashion Markets, held inside the Fitters Workshop
The Old Bus Depot Markets is a popular market for locals and visitors to the city - where you can walk in with nothing and walk out hours later with arms laden with bags. Thankfully the (free) car parking is outside the front of the markets, so you can take back any goodies or plants back to the car mid-shop. The carpark does get very congested around lunchtime, so get to the markets early if you can. The markets run between 10am - 4pm each Sunday. See here for a list of traders and keep an eye on their Events page for themed markets such as Portobello Sunday, Multicultural Sunday, Collectable Sunday and a Celebration of Wool.
If you are a visitor to the city and wondering where the locals are on Sundays, take a drive to the Kingston Foreshore and the Old Bus Depot Markets and follow the crowds...
...this is where you will find them! Source: Old Bus Depot Markets Facebook