by Jodi Panayotov
Brisbane loves a good market and these days the markets love Brisbane, with neat little rows of peaked roof stalls like mini villages popping up all over town on weekends. Some are major crowd magnets while others are known only to the locals of the area, some sweep in a few times a year and others, like the following, are rain, hail or shine weekend regulars.
Market guru Peter Hackworth's latest baby the Boggo Road Gaol Markets has the imposing once-feared walls of the old gaol as its backdrop and although small, has plenty to offer market-goers. Fresh produce takes a back seat to the range of gourmet food stalls, which peddle everything from Himalayan momos to French pastries for a jailhouse brunch.
Amongst the other stalls, which run the gamut from fashion to handmade trinkets, a visit to the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society's stall is a must, with loads of fascinating stories and books about what was once the state's most notorious gaol.
From the folks that bring the Rocklea markets to the south side, the Eagle Farm Markets are the fresh produce equivalent of the north, albeit with extras such as fashion and accessories.
And with grand buildings like the heritage listed Tote building as the gourmet pantry and St Leger Stand as the deli, bakery and patisserie there can be few more attractive marketplaces in Brisbane.
The fig-shaded area between the two stands is the spot for a gourmet breakfast of the Anglo or ethnic variety and down by the gates a jumping castle and face painting get-up keep children entertained.
The excellent Sunday organic market itself is held in the car park, but it's the attachment to Brisbane's only city farm on the banks of Enoggera Creek that makes these Northey St markets so special.
Before filling the shopping trolley or recycled box with fresh fruit, veges, honey, dairy products, fair trade coffee bean and free range eggs, head into the farm. Here the main attractions are the hippy trippy Chai Café and its log seating, chicken coops, wandering minstrels playing ukuleles and flutes and the fantastic forest clearing for rustic child's play – just like a slice of the Woodford Festival has landed in inner city Brisbane.
Woodridge Train Station Markets are Brisbane's melting pot markets, where a mix of 150 nationalities gather in the main street of Woodridge's multi-ethnic shopping precinct on a Sunday to pick up the cheapest fruit and vegetables to be found anywhere.
Here's the place to come for taro, okra, coconuts, plantains and Asian greens before stopping off at one of the hawker's stalls for an African breakfast Thai morning tea or Fijian lunch.
A rare undercover deal, West End Twilight Market ramps things up jamboree style inside an old side street warehouse on Saturday evenings. Ethics rule here with a band of recyclers, upcyclers, hand made artisans, artists and craftspeople providing the shopping opportunities and a local band providing the dance music. Stay for dinner and some freshly prepared vegetarian or Greek nosh, wood fired pizzas and other goodies.
An oldie but a well-preserved one, the Saturday Fresh offshoot of the Brisbane Produce markets is one big lively bazaar on Saturday mornings, with a massive array of fruit and veges as well as smoked meats, cheese, seafood, pantry goods, bread and sweets.
A smooth jazz outfit keeps market goers entertained and multicultural stall holders in the food alley keep everyone well fed with their cheap international breakfasts, including Translylvanian pancakes and Hungarian donuts. And the coffee is no slouch, coming from organic fair trade outfit Black Sheep.
Meanwhile market-weary children can be kept happy riding the mini Ferris wheel near the entrance.