In the early 1960s, my mother and I would catch a bus across town from the inner north suburb of Downer, where we lived, to the Kingston shops, so that my mother could do her weekly shopping. As the bus rattled along Wentworth Avenue, I would always gaze out the window in awe at the rows of buses parked en masse outside the bus depot. Fifty years later, that bus depot is now renowned as the Old Bus Depot Markets and since 1994 has been a hugely popular Sunday tradition in Canberra.
Visitors will find the Old Bus Depot Markets in the arts precinct on the Kingston Foreshore, right next door to the Canberra Glassworks in the old Kingston Powerhouse. Both buildings are listed on the ACT Heritage Register, meaning they are completely off limits for redevelopment. As someone who was born in Canberra and lived here all her life, this makes my heart sing, for too many of our beautiful old buildings have been torn down to make way for shiny new apartment complexes.
It's certainly been an invigorating 20 years for the Old Bus Depot Markets. 'There have been so many changes in the last 20 years, both in terms of the development of our business and the ever-changing Kingston foreshore area itself,' Diane Hind, one of the Old Bus Depot Markets’ Directors, explained. 'Still, we believe we found a niche and the Old Bus Depot Markets have become a fabulous Canberra icon, and also one of the capital’s longest running businesses.' she added.
Diane is joined by fellow Director, Morna Whiting, and together they have managed the Old Bus Depot Markets since their inception in 1994. The pair pull together over 200 stallholders and staff to deliver a high quality Market on almost every Sunday of the year.
'We’ve seen major changes to the Old Bus Depot Markets building, grown our attending stallholders list, secured a great range of entertainment each week, developed many exciting regular theme events, and we manage to remain a wonderful weekend ‘must do’ for Canberrans and visitors to Canberra alike. The Markets are also a hive of creativity and expression for so many each and every weekend. It’s a place where our stallholders can exhibit their wares and where handmade, personal touches are really appreciated,' said Diane.
The Markets were inducted into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame in 2006, included in the top ten Canberra ‘Places of the Heart’ in the noughties, and more recently included in the Canberra 100 experiences for the Canberra Centenary last year.
On Sunday 14 September, the Market community will be coming together to make the 20th birthday a special one. A selection of the Markets’ regular buskers will perform throughout the day, and will be joined by long time stallholders and Market characters to mark the occasion.
'This will be a vibrant, fun and happy day of celebration at the Markets. We look forward to sharing this special day with our customers and the stallholders who Canberra has come to know and love since back in 1994,' Diane and Morna said.
'We're thrilled to be celebrating 20 years in Canberra. We’ve come a long way to develop our Markets to what they are today, and it’s all been possible due to the support of our fabulous stallholders, customers, visitors to Canberra and the local community,' they concluded.
Postcards from the Old Bus Depot Markets...
Among the 200 or so stalls at the Old Bus Depot Markets, there are handcrafted items such as timber furniture and home wares; crafts and vintage collectibles; jewellery, footware and clothing; original paintings, artworks and photography; and flowers and candles. Regular themed events include Green Savvy Sunday, Retro Depot and Portobello Road. There's also entertainment in the form of buskers and musicians, which add to the lively market atmosphere.
In terms of food, there are 48 or so fresh produce and home-produced food stalls on the lower level. This includes freshly baked breads and focaccias; farmhouse cheeses; fruit and vegetables; regional olive oils; bakery items; free range eggs; jams, sauces and chutneys; meat and small goods; oysters; muesli; artisan chocolates; nuts; readymade dinners, pasta and sauces; Chai tea; and much more.
For those feeling pangs of hunger, there are eight eat-on-site food stalls, including a Coffee bar, French, Spanish, Sweet Delights, Mexican, Ethiopian, Laotian, ice creamery and a fresh orange Juice stall. Between them, these stalls serve a range of tasty meals that can be eaten at the Markets.
Note: The photograph of 'Matilda' was kindly provided by the Old Bus Depot Markets. Matilda makes appearances from time to time, but will not be at the Markets on the day of the birthday event.
The Old Bus Depot Markets’ 20th birthday will be celebrated on Sunday, 14 September from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free. The Markets are located at 21 Wentworth Avenue in Kingston and are open every Sunday from 10am to 4pm. For more information about the Old Bus Depot Markets, including the 20th anniversary event, visit the web site.
Tell me dear readers, do you enjoy visiting markets like these? Have you ever visited the Old Bus Depot Markets in Canberra?
I'm Liz, a.k.a Bizzy Lizzy,
the writer, cook and traveller behind
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.