Local markets are a great place to pick up souvenirs, artworks, trinkets and fresh local produce. They are also a splendid place to savour the unique lifestyle of Tropical North Queensland – the colour and the character, the smells and the sounds which meld and clash in a cacophony of excitement.
Enjoy our guide to shopping and eating your way around the markets of the Port Douglas and Cairns region for shoppers, browsers, coffee and food fiends too!
Port Douglas Markets
When: Sat 8.30am – 1pm
Where: Anzac Park, Port Douglas
Why: Probably the best markets in north Queensland, if you walk out of here having purchased nothing you’re really not trying!
When: Sat 7am – noon
Where: Under the raintrees in downtown Mossman
Why: Didn’t you read the address? These markets are worth it if only to visit this gorgeous little town as a teaser for the Daintree Rainforest a little further north.
Cairns Esplanade Markets
When: Sat 8am – 5pm
Where: On the Esplanade near the Lagoon, Cairns
Why: Gifts, trinkets, souvenirs, art, crafts and music, the Esplanade Markets are a great place to find gifts to take home to loved ones. If the bargain hunting gets too heated slip into the Lagoon to cool off of pop across the road for a cold one at one of the waterfront restaurants.
When: Fri 5am-6pm, Sat 6am – 3pm, Sun 6am – 2pm
Where: Grafton St Cairns
Why: The best and freshest range of fruit, vegetables, herbs and artisan bread from across the Atherton Tablelands and beyond, Rusty’s Markets are in the heart of Cairns.
Palm Cove Markets
When: Fri 5pm – 9pm
Where: By the jetty, Palm Cove
Why: The location is enough of an enticer especially at dusk when the Coral Sea glows pink as the sun sets behind the ranges. Stroll along the jetty and check out what the fishermen are catching or have a picnic at the free waterfront BBQ’s nearby.
Tanks Arts Centre Markets
When: last Sun of the month 9am – 2pm (Apr – Nov)
Where: Collins Ave, Edge Hill, Cairns
Why: Arts and crafts in one of Cairns prettiest tree-lined streets in the Botanic Gardens precinct.
Kuranda Rainforest Markets
When: Daily 9am – 3pm
Where: Therwine St and Heritage Markets
Why: A little bit kitchsy with a whiff of over-commercialisation and a whole of of quirky, Kuranda is famous for its markets.
When: Sun from 8am
Where: Speewah Tavern carpark
Why: There’s not much to the town of Speewah: blink and you’ll miss it. But as it’s located at the top of the mountain range west of Cairns amongst rainforest, any excuse to visit Speewah is a good one.
When: Fourth Sat of the month 7.30am – noon
Where: Main St Yungaburra
Why: Yungaburra Markets are typical of the Atherton Tablelands, where market day is used an excuse by locals to catch up with friends, neighbors and anyone else within earshot. Historic Yungaburra Markets are a terrific place to pick up fabulous fresh produce that the Atherton Tablelands are famous for.
When: Sat 7.30am – Noon
Where: Lions Park, Cooktown
Why: Much like Cooktown itself, the Cooktown Markets are full of hidden pleasures. Expect an oddball mix of stalls offering trash, treasure, fresh squeezed juices, home baked cakes manned by the odd hippy or far north ‘character’.
Mission Beach Markets
When: First & third Sun of each month, 6.30am – noon
Where: opposite Hideway Caravan Park
Why: Close enough to the dreamy beach that the town is famous for to taste the salt in the air, the markets offer a good mix of art, fashion, plants and food. There always seems to be someone selling mangos here no matter what time of the year!
Don’t miss: Monster Markets on the last Sun of each month 8am – 2pm at Mars Park, Mission Beach (Apr – Nov)
When: First Sat of the month (Easter – Dec)
Where: Coral Sea Memorial Park, Cardwell
Why: With a dreamy waterfront location overlooking the dramatic peaks of Hinchinbrook Island, it’s worth visiting Cardwell just to enjoy the new waterfront parklands. Time your visit on market day, strike up a conversation with a stall holder and you’ll likely walk away with some of the juiciest fruit on the planet.