I wasn’t sure whether to write about this under “Things to do” or “Shopping” or indeed “Restaurants” as there is a bit of each. Some might say not a lot of anything but I will explain.
I’ve decided break it into two - Things to Do where I will comment on the Canberra Contemporary Art Space a small but oft-time interesting Art Gallery, and Shopping – Gorman House Markets (this tip) in which I will also make mention of the building and its history.
Also housed within Gorman House is the top-notch Sage Restaurant. You’ll have to take my word that it’s good till I do a formal review – also take my word that it’s not cheap. A great place for that special dinner.
Constructed in 1925 – at that stage only it and the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings ( both still on Northbourne Avenue) existed in Civic – the commercial part of Canberra. The building was designed by John Smith Murdoch who also designed Old Parliament and the Hotel Canberra ( now the Hyatt). You can certainly see the similarities in design.
Gorman House (pre 1927 called “Hostel No. 3', or the 'Hotel Ainslie') served as a hostel for lower ranking public (civil) servants between 1925 and 1972. In 1925 accommodation and meals cost $3.00 per week. Between 1972 and 1981 a number of Government departments were located here. In 1981 Gorman House attained its current status as an Arts Centre and was heritage listed in 2005.
Gorman House Markets
Years ago Gorman House markets was a vibrant and bustling weekly market. Today it is neither. This does not mean you should not visit. Why should I go? I hear you say. Ok, I’ll tell you.
The Saturday market nowadays is still interesting – you come here to “hang out’ with artists, aging hippies and other bohemian types. There are typically a dozen or so stalls of mainly hand made arty type stuff, a few interesting food stalls ( I has some delicious fried Chinese pork dumplings last weekend), some form of live music (plus poetry on a fortnightly basis) all amongst wisteria clad, undercover walkways, courtyards, and lawns. A very pleasant place to wile away an hour or two over a bite to eat. Leave your worries at the door. You get the notion that the stall holders are not really that bothered whether they sell anything or not – that’s not the point of it!
I like it.
Market Opening Hours
Saturdays 10am – 4pm
Admission Fee - Free
What to buy: Limited range of arts, crafts and food but you more go here to "hang out" and relax
What to pay: Reasonably priced
The Hall Market is held on the showgrounds in Hall village approximately 10 kms from the centre of Canberra. Markets are open 10am to 3pm on the first Sunday of each month, excluding January.
This is one of the largest handmade, home-grown, produce markets in Australia with a great selection of stalls selling everything from dolls houses to live hens – neither of which the typical punter wants. More popular items include craft items, timber products, pottery, leatherwork, handknits, skin care products, dog products, jewellery, toys, honey, jam and preserves, cakes, fruit & vegetables, plants and more.
Typically there will be at least a couple of hundred stalls with an ample supply of food and drinks to keep you busy for at least a couple of hours. These markets are very popular with locals and especially so as dogs (on leashes) are permitted.
Be warned that the area can get very dusty and that while the markets are on a Sunday your Sunday best outfit is best left in the wardrobe.
Barbeques, live music and other entertainment makes a visit a fun, family day out.
Entry fee: Entry is by a gold coin donation helping fund Hartley Lifecare’s disability services. Plenty of parking available but stick to the signposted car parks (cost covered in the gold coin entry fee).
Hall Showground - Off Victoria Street, Hall
What to pay: Cheaper than other markets in the City
This place is just a one-s top shop for fine food, local wine and dining fare from otherwise not so known places. For example, you can sample Laotian or African food here. Also, numerous wine and cheese tastings, homemade roasted nuts which we bought lots of, deli products and bread!There are homemade dips, pickles, jams, and loads more foodstuffs.
Even before lunch, my boys were happily hopping from one stall to another sampling tasty cheeses of all sorts. Hubby was in seventh heaven munching on his fave salamis and more cheeses of course!
There are also jewelries like cultured pearls, wood carvings, just too many to mention!
I can see why it is an award winning market as the products are usually stuff you cannot find anywhere in the country as the produce are especially locally grown and homemade from fresh produce and ingredients by Canberrans or those from the surrounding areas!
By the way, as many markets, they operate on Sundays when we were there in January. They also have them on Saturdays in December as I heard. They are open from 10 am to 4 pm.
The products vary with the seasons and there are also music and other offerings for the public. You don't have to stay indoors to eat your food, go outside and enjoy the breeze from the lake!
What to buy: We especially love the Venetian roasted almonds, even made right in front of you. The ingredients are fresh, the way of making them are even simple and tastes yummy! We also bought some vintage local cheese, rye bread,a plate each of Laotian and Mexican food to take to our picnic at Lake Burley Griffin which is just nearby. As I mentioned, we got almonds and cashews too!
What to pay: From $4 for a loaf of fresh rye bread, three bags of roasted almonds for $10 or $2.50 each for flavoured roasted peanuts.
Located in the inner suburb of Kingston, the (retail) Markets are a great place to shop for fresh food. You will find a choice of shops for meat, fruit and vegetables and fish. If you would like an icecream or asian groceries, or even a carpet, you will find it here. And yes, many fruit vendors will offer you samples of their fruit.
What to pay: Usually less than in supermarkets.
The Old Bus Depot Markets are great. They run on Sundays in Kingston at the old bus depot. You'll find everything from handicrafts to food to clothing there. They have some amazing artists who sell their goods at the markets too.
The Hall Markets regularly attract more than 300 local craftspeople and farmers to this country market just 30 minutes outside of downtown Canberra. Meets on the first Sunday of every month and is a great place to purchase some woodwork etc. They also have rides and other amusements for the kids as well as a place to pickup some fast food (there is good sitdown food available in Hall) Hall is also in the center of a good wine producing region so you can make it a weekend!
What to buy: Woodwork, glass, as well as fresh produce and some bric a brac
What to pay: Varies based upon quality but you should be able to get a better price than at a shop