Market Monopoly

Townsville's market scene has never been stronger. IMAGE: Sarah Joy Photography

Honey puffs. The smell of sun-warmed exotic fruit. And tables upon tables of treasures from every walk of life.

In my family, market visits are sporadic but treasured. We wake up and head to the local Willows Market on a Sunday before breakfast, or make the drive across town to the Cotters Market if we’re feeling adventurous. The Strand’s monthly Friday night Market is always a great excuse to catch up with friends and celebrate the start of another weekend. But these three markets barely scratch the surface of the board game worth of producers and stallholders in Townsville.

At last count, Townsville had 19 operating markets. While most are monthly, a handful of the local showcases occur once a week or fortnightly. They are organised and facilitated by various people and institutions, but pulling the strings at the Mayfair-end of the board is a clear head honcho. Rotary.

The service organisation holds the title deeds to the Strand Night Market, Cotters Market, Willows Market, and Riverway Moonlight Market, which were recognised as the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th most-attended local markets in 2016. As the winner of many a family board game night, I could safely say that those would be the squares I put my houses and hotels on.

These attendance figures formed part of the Townsville Markets Project Investigation and Consultation Report, based on a recent questionnaire surveying market-goers and stallholders.

Townsville’s flagship market, the Cotters Market, was the focus of the survey, with findings determining the market needed a refresh. Tenders for parties interested in operating both the Cotters and Cruise Ship Markets opened earlier in the year, with the future of the markets to be determined mid-July.

No matter the operator, continuing to tout Cotters Market as a flagship for the city was seen as a high priority – and one which will be made easier with the implementation of the CBD renewal and waterfront precinct developments revitalising Townsville in coming years. Governance and Finance Chair of the Townsville City Council, Cr Verena Coombe, said the report has come at an important time for the city.

“There were a number of reasons for having the review. Our markets hadn’t been assessed in over 10 years, and we didn’t have the full picture or a snapshot of the entire market scene in Townsville. It also comes at a time where Rotary’s Cotters Market agreement was up for renewal which coincided with our time as a new Council, so was the perfect opportunity to take a beat and have a review,” Cr Coombe said.

“Rotary has fulfilled an important role over a long period of time within Townsville’s market scene, but for a number of reasons people have noticed the numbers at Cotters Market have been declining. Another aspect of the review was to go to the public and stallholders to ask why.”

Survey findings revealed that the public preferred markets with a variety of offerings – from fresh produce to arts and crafts – however niche markets were also standing their ground and gaining momentum, with Renegade Handmade and Label Traders Markets the third and sixth most-attended.

60 per cent of respondents don’t think Townsville has too many markets – but more than half believe the city doesn’t require any new ones.

“I think if we spread ourselves too thin, the markets will tell us because there would be some that don’t survive. Although we have a growing population, I’d have to agree there isn’t a whole lot of room for new operators. But new operators with a good idea and a unique offering will always get supported.

“A lot of stallholders do it for the love, but others do it as a commercial operation: they feel like they have a great offering or product to sell, so having other markets is a great opportunity for them to test things out. Obviously if they’re noticing people are going somewhere else, they’ll go where the people are.”

The current variety of markets in Townsville is incredible, with cases of five markets all occurring at the same time on some weekends; what you will find at them is really a roll of the dice.

So pick up a chance card, and advance your token to a new market this weekend.

List of markets in Townsville: 

Alligator Creek Community Market  ||  3rd Saturday  ||   8am-12pm  ||  Caltex Alligator Creek
Balgal Beach Market  ||  1st Saturday  ||  8am-1pm  ||  Fishermen’s Landing
Bluewater Twilight Market  ||  2nd Saturday  ||  4-8pm  ||  Bluewater Community Hall
Carlyle Gardens Arts and Crafts Market  ||  1st Saturday  ||  9am-12pm  ||  Carlyle Gardens
Castle Hill PCYC Market  ||  Sundays  ||  7-11am  ||  Castle Hill PCYC
Cotters Market  ||  Sundays  ||  8:30am-1pm  ||  Flinders Street
Cruise Ship Market  ||  Check Council updates in cruise season for times and locations
Horseshoe Bay Market  ||  2nd & last Sundays  ||  9am-2pm  ||  Horseshoe Bay
Label Traders Market  ||  3rd Sunday  ||  8am-12pm  ||  Mundingburra State School
Magnetic Island Night Market  ||  Fridays  ||  5:30-8pm  ||  Magnetic Island RSL Hall
North Queensland Babies and Kids Market  ||  19 Aug, 25 Nov  ||  8:30am-12:30pm  ||  Emmaus Hall
NQ Farmers Market  ||  Saturdays  ||  7am-1pm  ||  Main Street, North Shore
Renegade Handmade Market  ||  2nd Sunday  ||  8am-1pm  ||  Marian School
Riverway Moonlight Market  ||  3rd Friday May – Dec  ||  5-9pm  ||  Riverway
Seabreeze Market  ||  1st & 3rd Sunday  ||  8am-1pm  ||  Bushland Beach Tavern
Strand Night Market  ||  1st Friday May – Dec  ||  5-9:30pm  ||  Strand Park
Upper Ross Community Market  ||  1st Saturday  ||  3-6pm  ||  Apex Park
Willows Market  ||  Sundays  ||  7:30-11:30am  ||  Willows Shopping Centre

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