Whether you’re looking to stock up on fresh produce for your vacation or you’d simply like to browse, the wares on offer are indicative of the melting pot of Northern Queensland. Indigenous Australian foods sit alongside unique produce from the Torres Strait Islands as well as from China, India, Papua New Guinea, and beyond. You’ll find an array of exotic fruits, flowers, and vegetables, not to mention cooked food stalls, seafood vendors, fresh baked bread, and much more. Guided foodie tours of the market include tastings and meet-and-greets with some of the on-site chefs and owners.
Things to know before you go
- Bring cash; some stalls take credit cards but cash is preferred. There is an ATM at the entrance to the market.
- The market is covered but not air-conditioned.
- It’s recommended to bring your own shopping bags.
How to get there
You’ll find Rusty’s Markets under Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel and Resort, just three blocks in from the Esplanade between Grafton and Sheridan Streets. Free parking for visitors is available in the car park above the market on Sheridan Street. It’s also located about two blocks away from the train station at the Cairns Central Shopping Centre.
When to get there
Rusty’s Markets is open every Friday and Saturday from around 5am to 6pm, and on Sunday from around 5am to 3pm. To score the best produce, plan to arrive early on Friday. Between June and October, which is the region’s dry season, is considered the best time to visit Cairns. Locals suggest arriving at the market before 7am on a Friday to follow around the chefs who know where to find the best produce.
Cairns Night Markets & Food Court
Just two blocks away, right by the Esplanade, you’ll find this other popular marketplace. Open from around 5pm every evening, the Cairns Night Markets & Food Court is a good spot to spend your evenings browsing and shopping for souvenirs. With its expansive food court it’s also a convenient place to grab an inexpensive bite to eat.
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