I have been remiss in my reportage on the major tourist attractions in Melbourne. One of the biggest draws in the City, (loved by locals as well as tourists), is Queen Victoria Market. It is huge, covering some seven hectares (17 acres), smack in the center of the city.  It has been bustling since March of 1878.

It opens at 6 AM on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, generally closing at 2 PM, although in the summer there is a night market as well.  On Sunday it opens at 9 AM, since fresh produce is not available that day.  During the week, half the space is given over to fresh produce, fish and meat. The remaining stalls are dominated by souvenirs and inexpensive clothing.

Prior to its incarnation as a market, it was the city’s largest cemetery. Although most of the underground residents were disinterred to make room for commerce, there are some 9,000 corpses still buried beneath the car park. They include the bodies of the first people executed in Melbourne. But don’t let that put you off your lunch.

The Lower Market was set aside in 1857 for fruit and vegetables, but the location was unpopular and the market gardeners wouldn’t use it. Instead, it was used as a livestock and hay market until it was permanently reserved as the Market in 1867.

The following year, a substantial brick building was erected on Elizabeth Street and this became a Wholesale Meat Market. This was relocated, however, and the building became a Retail Meat and Fish Market and slaughterhouse. In 1878, the Market sheds G, H, I & J were built. Wholesaling and retailing of fruit and vegetables started up.

In 1880, the Elizabeth Street shops were constructed. This allowed the Meat Hall to be extended, and the present facade to be constructed in 1884. The Dairy Produce Hall (also known as the Deli Hall) was the last of the buildings to be built on this part of the Market, and was constructed in 1929.

A-F sheds were constructed in the Upper Market in 1877. By 1930, the remainder of the site had been built upon. The City of Melbourne constructed 60 brick stores on the current car park to house wholesale agents and merchants.

However, allegations of corruption and racketeering and a Royal Commission in 1960 led to the decision to relocate the Wholesale Market to Footscray in 1969. A single row of the Agents stores along Franklin Street is all that remains of the Merchants section of the Market.

They do a wonderful job of marketing the market. Check out the latest video on the website at http://www.qvm.com.au.  Better yet, come for a visit.  The Market offers a cornucopia that is irresistible on an  empty stomach .

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