Bustling throngs of people, fragrant smells, and a cacophony of sounds assault the senses as one approaches the Salamanca Market. Located in Hobart, Tasmania, it is deemed by locals and tourists alike as THE market to visit. While there are, admittedly, other markets held in Tasmania, they pall in comparison to the Salamanca on all levels.
The first thing one notices is the sheer size of the market. Spanning the entire length of a street, three columns of market stalls stretch as far as the eye can see. Given the market's popularity and notoriety, the throngs of people in that one location creates a bit of a navigational dilemma as one meanders along browsing the numerous and diverse products on offer.
The diverse range of products on offer is overwhelming. Everything imaginable from jewellery to embroidered tea towels and everything in between, jostles for space on tables.
Handcrafted penguin figurines sit next to handmade leather handbags and accessories, while over the noise of the crowd one can hear strains from live bands selling their CDs, while busking children attempting to increase their pocket money. Hot food vans waft delicious and enticing smells throughout the area, causing stomachs to rumble.
Among the pleasant surprises are the vendors themselves. Instead of supporting an international conglomerate or manufacturer, the majority of products are handcrafted and produced by Tasmanian designers and small business owners. While naturally some bogus stalls do exist, in particular, one which sells laminated home printouts of witty slogans straight from Google, these types are few and far between.
Prices vary at every turn. Don't mistake this for a cheap place to shop. While fresh fruit and vegetables are somewhat cheaper than the supermarkets, and a lot fresher, other stalls don't have any qualms about charging in the hundreds of dollars.
Buskers of all ages sprout up from every nook and cranny. At every which way, music can be heard, adding to the hustle and bustle of the atmosphere. They have permits to accept money under regulation, as well as other restrictions such as required break times of particular durations, but other than that they are free to share their musical ability, whatever that may be. No guarantees of outstanding ability however! In particular, one young male was busy singing away, but so badly, that some patrons were actively relocating to avoid the assault on their eardrums!
When shopping becomes exhausting, and it will, there are numerous cafes located along alleyways of the market. There, patrons can relax in the sun with a decent cup of coffee.
Alternatively, there is plenty of grass under shady trees, perfect for lounging beneath with a home-made picnic or with something delicious from one of the food vans, like a baked potato piled high with toppings.
There is one disadvantage to the market. The toilets. As far as could be determined, there was only one set of cubicles. While men wouldn't have a problem with this particular arrangement (as usual), the queue for the ladies' stretched far across the compound. Not so ideal when one's back teeth are floating to begin with! Curses to all that delicious non-alcoholic beer a stall was providing free samples of.
In a market filled with such a variety of products, it's possible to find the perfect present for that special someone, which is non conventional, beautifully crafted, and supports a local designer. Just remember a few things.
Firstly, getting there early is key. Even though stalls are open from 8:30am to 2:30pm, the crowds and size prevent one from speeding through in any particular time frame. Meandering is the way of life.
Also, most people do laps of the stalls 2 to 3 times, to ensure they haven't missed anything. Parking can be found in the multi storey carparks in the city, which is then walking distance or a free bus trip to the market itself. Bring a jacket and a raincoat, even though the weather says otherwise. Hobart weather is volatile.
Finally, don't forget to have fun. Unlike other markets such as the Caribbean or Queen Vic, this one has the old-timey feel of the holiday town style market. Nothing commercial, nothing confronting. Simply a local market where designers from all around the state can come and sell their latest creations.
Keep an open mind and you might find something truly unique.
Ah I miss the markets. I live in Adelaide but my husband and I have spent quite a bit of time in Hobart in the past. We haven't been there in a while. I think we need to head back soon.
I think you captured the feel of wandering through the markets perfectly .