I attended the QVM tour courtesy of Queen Vic Market and Little Big Marketing.
Recently I did a tour of the Queen Victoria Market. I met my group and our guide, Cleve, at the tour office. It was a particularly cold and wet day, so we stayed in the shelter of the office while Cleve gave us a brief history of the Market.
Like many of the markets around Melbourne, the Queen Victoria Market has been around for a while – it was officially opened in 1878, with the upper market mostly built in 12 months after opening. Some of the buildings around the market still date back to that time, having been built in the Victorian era in the 1880s.
It’s well known that the Queen Victoria Market car park was the site of Melbourne’s first cemetery. The cemetery was open for twenty years, and many, many people were buried there, most in unmarked graves. It’s believes that there were over 10,000 people buried on the site. When the Market expanded over most of the cemetery, just over 900 bodies were exhumed and re-interred, so you do the maths on how many remains could still be underneath…
After the history lesson, we moved on to the meat and fish hall, which was built in 1869 as a general meat hall. The meat is delivered from the abattoirs at 2am on market days, and the butchers arrive at 4am, spending the hours before opening preparing the meat and their displays.
In the meat hall, if you look up you may notice steel rails that are original fixtures from when the building was constructed. The butchers hang animal carcasses from them and then push the meat to their stalls. Things used to be built to last, huh?
Queen Vic Market has 20 butchers, and pretty much any meat or cut you desire can be purchased: beef, pork, lamb, goat, pet meat, sausages. I was pretty happy to see lots and lots of offal on display.
There’s 10 fish mongers, and like the meat section, you can buy almost any seafood that your heart desires. All the stalls label their seafood with the country of origin, with most of the seafood being from Australia.
A brief walk took us to the organic food section. There is, of course, a rather large non-organic fruit and vegetable section.
The thing I like the most about this fruit is the name.
Our next visit was to the beautiful deli hall. When you walk in, you immediately notice the limestone and marble on the bottom of each stall. Some also have gold lettering, which display the names of the original proprietors.
The deli hall is like Disneyland for me – so much good stuff! Dips, terrines, pates, olives, cured meats, pasta, cheeses, bread, pastries, cakes, chocolate… the list goes on!
I am absolutely obsessed with cheese at the moment so hello cheese heaven.
On the tour you get tastings. We ate some grilled meats: chicken and kangaroo, plus cheese, dips, bread, biscuits, chocolate AND then we finished with a bowl each of hot pasta.
One of the dips we tried was a really incredible hummus that I’m definitely buying next time I’m there. I wonder what the secret is to the deliciousness.
We even tried some wine and on our way out ended the tour with a coffee.
Even though I’ve been visiting Queen Vic Market for years and years and years, it’s normally on the weekend when the place is beyond packed. During the weekend it’s impossible to have a good look around and take note of the wide range of goods that are actually sold – it’s get in, get out as fast as possible. So it was really nice to take a leisurely stroll, have a look around, and learn a bit of history (yes, I did the tour on a weekday). And honestly? I was actually surprised at how much stuff is sold at QVM that I’d never noticed before.
I learnt so much from the tour but the unfortunate side effect is that I now want to buy everything. Because of course I need buffalo meat, or terrine, or locally made black pudding, or incredibly expensive Scottish aged cheddar. Right…?
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