Why the Emu Plains Market Is a True Melbourne Gem

The Emu Plains Market is relatively new on the scene, but it’s quickly turning into one of the Mornington Peninsula’s darling markets.

It’s the community atmosphere and beautiful surroundings that draw people in. Stallholders themselves admit that the Red Hill Market may be a boon day for vendors, but they love the Emu Plains Market for its ambience.

It’s easy to understand why as you stroll along the market path snaking through ghostly stringybarks. The native bush setting provides the perfect backdrop to the market stalls, which have a focus on craftsmanship and environmental sustainability.

emu plains market food stall

There’s something rustic about this independent market. Crate boxes are used as tables and chairs, with flowers in jars adding a charming decorative touch.

Live musicians play throughout the market circuit, so you can enjoy country tunes as you browse the stalls. Or you can take a seat at one of the three main outdoor dining areas and munch on any number of orgasmic options at the truly diverse selection of food stalls.

a musician at emu plains market

And the stalls! Some 200 of them will tempt you every which way you look. You’ll have to do two rotations of the circular market track just so you don’t miss a beat. Among the mix, there’s:

  • Fresh produce straight from the local farms
  • Vintage knick-knacks
  • Sustainable designer pieces
  • Top quality handicrafts
  • Tantalising gourmet food
  • Wine tasting from the region’s best wineries

Be sure to check out the Emu Plains Market’s Meet the Makers blog for a more personal look into the various stallholders.

There’s plenty for the kids as well, aside from coaxing them away from their screens and into a natural environment. The Emu Plains Market provides for them in spades, with face painting, pony rides, and a jumping castle all set to keep them entertained.

a rustic market stall at emu plains market

Things to note

As with any rural market, there are a few things to take note of. For starters, public transport is hardly the friendliest option, but make note that if you head there by car, parking is $4 per vehicle.

On the plus side, you can consider that parking fee a donation since the money raised at the market goes towards the Westernport Rotary Group’s community projects and the Emu Plains Reserve Committee for land upkeep.

As tempting as it may be to bring a dog along for the fresh country air, no pets are actually allowed on the reserve (it’s an important place for native flora and fauna). Keep the pups home.

The nearest ATM isn’t at the reserve but is rather a 5-minute drive away to the nearest town. With that in mind, it’s best to come prepared with a wallet full of cash (and I can personally recommend over-estimating the amount you’ll spend!).

A surprising number of stalls do cater to credit cards with increasing numbers providing portable EFTPOS facilities. But it’s still better to make life easier for vendors with a solid wad of cash.

Finally, while the fresh breath of country air does wonders for the soul, this market is heavily reliant on its outdoors setting. That means it’s at the mercy of the weather. But don’t let a bit of rain put you off. There’s a wonderful vibe here come rain, hale or sunshine.

Emu Plains Market details

Where: Emu Plains Reserve, Coolart Rd, Balnarring (Balnarring Racecourse). The location is an easy 50-minute drive from the city, mostly on smooth-running highways.

When: The market usually runs on the third Saturday of the month between October and April, though it’s best to check the website for precise dates. In 2016, they held their inaugural winter market, a trend I hope to see recurring in the years ahead.

The market is open from 9am to 2pm. But January markets often run from 3pm to 8pm to make the most of that deliciously warm summer weather.

About the Emu Plains Market

A group of passionate locals created the Emu Plains Market in December 2012 to host a market that would promote the Mornington Peninsula region. The land the market is hosted on has been a designated reserve since 1860 and is valued for its native biodiversity.

It’s a truly wonderful setting, so make sure you look up and enjoy your surroundings before you start digging for amazing shopping finds!

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