There’s nothing like purchasing a souvy of your travels that you know has been lovingly crafted by human hands, rather than a factory conveyor belt. Handmade products always embody something of the maker and no two pieces are ever the same – so you’re guaranteed of taking home something that’s unique to you. What’s even better is that handmade products are generally produced on a small scale, so in theory they’re easier on the planet.
OK, so we’ve convinced you to buy handmade! Now where can you find these tactile treasures? Here are eight of Australia’s best markets for handmade merch.
Author’s note: All of these markets have been affected by the COVID-19 shutdown and are slowly reopening. Check their websites for the latest information on market dates and times.
Salamanca Market, Hobart
Hobart’s Salamanca Market has long reigned supreme as the country’s best-known outdoor market, and as you would expect from those arty Taswegians, it’s peppered with lovely artisanal goodies. Salamanca is styled as a showcase for Tasmanian-produced wares and there’s enough silky smooth wooden bowls, alpaca throws and goats’ milk soap to satisfy the most ardent of market shoppers. The market has a wide criteria for assessing potential new products (including who made the product, what it’s made from, and where what it’s made from came from). If you’re a stickler for that level of detail (and well you might be as a dedicated handmade shopper), refer to the market’s website. Salamanca Market is held every Saturday morning in Salamanca Place. You can also browse around 400 of the market’s products online.
St Kilda Esplanade Market, Melbourne
What started back in 1970 with just a handful of artists, now sees more than one hundred creatives set up shop each week at Melbourne’s St Kilda Esplanade Market. The market has a policy that goods must either be handmade by the vendor or at the very least, designed by the vendor and made in Australia. Jewellery features prominently. Melbourne is also home to The Rose Street Market in Fitzroy, which showcases emerging makers-by-hand. Potential new marketeers must have their products assessed by a panel of other artists.
Need a place to stay? Browse all Melbourne accommodation options
Possibly one of the largest markets for Australian-made products in the country, Handmade Canberra is held quarterly at Exhibition Park (EPIC) in the capital and attracts around 300 stallholders selling homewares, toys, fashion, beauty products and gourmet foodstuffs. Handmade Canberra prefers that stallholders have made their products themselves, but it does consider those who have designed the product but had them made elsewhere (in Australia). Where materials sourced overseas have been used in the production of an item, the details must be displayed on the stall.
Need a place to stay? Canberra’s Quality Hotel Dickson is perfectly positioned as a base for exploring everything the capital has to offer. It’s a seven-minute drive from the hotel to EPIC.
Artisans Market Glebe, Sydney
A relative newbie on the market scene, Sydney’s popular quarterly Artisans Market Glebe began in 2016 and delivers pretty much what’s written on the tin. Locals artisans gather to sell their products to an adoring public in the village atmosphere of this picturesque pocket of the Harbour City. The market’s mantra is similar to that of Handmade Canberra. Products handmade by the vendor are the preference, but vendor-designed products made by someone else in Australia are deemed OK. It’s up to the shopper to pick and choose which option they want to support.
Need a place to stay? Browse all Sydney accommodation options
Eumundi Markets, Sunshine Coast
The Eumundi Markets on South East Queensland’s Sunshine Coast need little introduction. Every Wednesday and Saturday this juggernaut of the market world engulfs an entire town and visitors flock from far and wide to wander the endless aisles and peruse wares ranging from banana leaf gift cards to art painted on river pebbles. The market is billed as a handmade/artisans’ market, with the strapline ‘make it, bake it, grow it, sew it’, and the majority of goods sold here are clearly crafted with love. There’s also plenty of tasty tucker to be had, and you can pick up a haircut, foot massage, sound healing session, and henna tattoo as the need arises.
Need a place to stay? Enjoy a dash of understated luxury at Breeze Mooloolaba, Ascend Hotel Collection. It’s a 30-minute drive from the hotel to Eumundi.
The Olive Tree Market, Newcastle
Newcastle’s transition in recent decades from heavy industrial centre to contemporary cultural hub has been nothing short of incredible and incubating a robust art and design industry has been an important part of that process. The Olive Tree Market, which is held at various times throughout the year, is firmly rooted in that ethos. It’s all about fostering collaboration, creativity, community and sustainability, and you’ll find an array of gorgeous goods on offer from some of the finest makers in the land. It’s a market Jim, but not as we know it.
Need a place to stay? Newcastle’s Terminus Apartment Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection offers a fabulously comfortable stay, directly opposite the Hunter River foreshore. It’s a 3-minute drive from the hotel to the market.
Perth Makers Market
The Perth Makers Market in Applecross is one that doesn’t mince its words. According to their website, all items sold at the market must have been handmade by the vendor themselves, and not only that, but they must have been made in Western Australia. The only exception is for those operating not-for-profit fundraising stalls. Consequently you can shop at this market with complete confidence that you are getting a unique, small run, very exclusive piece that a local artisan has taken the time to create especially for you. Joy!
Need a place to stay? Browse all Perth accommodation options
The Handmade Expo Market, Queensland
Likewise, The Handmade Expo Market in Queensland is pretty clear on its remit. Goods sold at any of its periodic markets in Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Hervey Bay, Proserpine, Rockhampton and Mackay must have been made by the vendor, or a close friend or family member. Some third-party selling of handmade items is permitted at the market’s discretion (now we’re really drilling down to the nitty gritty!). If you happen to be staying in Brisbane and your travel dates don’t line up with the actual market, it also has a permanent shopfront at Strathpine.
Need a place to stay? Browse all Queensland accommodation options
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.