Markets / Shopping, Sydney
In 1966, SFM moved from the Haymarket area of Sydney to its current location at Blackwattle Bay, Pyrmont. In those days, fish were sold using the labour intensive, traditional ‘voice’ auction system. This system saw buyers assemble outside the sales bay fence, where inside an assistant would hold up samples of fish from each box for buyers to bid until the highest price was reached.
Sydney Fish Market Pty Ltd was formed on the 28 October 1994, when the NSW Government privatised the marketing of seafood. Since then two equal shareholders, the Catcher’s Trust of NSW and the Sydney Fish Market Tenants and Merchants Pty Ltd have jointly owned the company. Shortly after the NSW State government deregulated fish marketing over a two-stage, five-year period, as legislated monopoly was not acceptable under private ownership.
The first stage of deregulation came in November 1997 when fishermen’s cooperatives were permitted to sell directly to Sydney buyers. Total deregulation followed in November 1999, when New South Wales catchers could supply direct to any buyer in possession of a Fish Receiver’s Permit. The result, SFM no longer holds a monopoly over the sale of seafood into the Sydney region.
SFM introduced a computerised Dutch auction in October 1989, dramatically evolving the way fish was to be sold. Modelled on the ‘reverse’ auction system, which has been used for over 130 years to sell tulips in Amsterdam,
SFM’s auctioneers set the price approximately $3 higher than the assumed market price. The clock then winds down at a rate of $1 per revolution and the price drops until a buyer stops the clock by pressing a button. The successful buyer then selects a number of crates from the ‘lot’.
In February 2004, state-of-the-art digital video projectors were installed to enhance the auction clocks. These large screens face toward around 150 to 200 buyers each day. Through this reverse auction system, SFM can now offer buyers the fastest and most efficient method of trading seafood, whilst still ensuring the best possible price in open competition.
Approximately 1,000 crates or 20,000 kg of seafood are sold every hour during SFM auctions. That’s an average of 2,700 crates, or 50 tonnes of fresh seafood, traded every day. In Australia, SFM’s seafood diversity is second to none with over 100 species offered at auction daily.
In 1989 SFM established the Sydney Seafood School. The School now attracts 12,000 participants a year and hosts an enviable list of Australia’s finest guest chefs.
In 2001, SFM launched it’s innovative new online-based seafood trading system, SFMlive that operates in addition to the Dutch auction. SFMlive now provides traders with advanced facilities for direct online seafood sales including wild harvest, aquaculture and frozen products, taking fish sales well into the future.
SFM receives over two million local and international visitors annually and is one of Sydney’s great fishing and harbourside icons.
Fondest memory: I last visited there on Christmas Eve, 2013 and, if you want to avoid crowds, this is not a good time to go. Having said that, the atmosphere is electric. There's an enthusiasm and positive vibe as crowds rush hither and thither around the various stall holders.
In addition to fish you will find a delicatessen, fruit shop and other stores.
To get there as a tourist, your best option is via the light rail from Central Station. You can't miss the Fish Market, it's the stop where the train empties 2/3rds of its passengers and it's well signposted anyway so you can't miss it.
If you don't like sea birds you probably won't enjoy it either; the sight of a pelican wandering among the crowd still puts a smile on my face!
We were off to the markets, Paddington market to be exact. Every Saturday it's on between about 10 and 4. What we weren't quite prepared for was what we saw on the way.
Fondest memory: We alighted about 6 bus stops too early and thus had a 40 minute walk to get to the markets on Oxford Street.
As we strolled along we couldn't help but notice the women's fashion shops that make up about two thirds of the retailers along Oxford Street. Innovative displays showcased the modern stores and made for an interesting walk to say the least.
Interspersed with cafes, the odd boutique hotel and other premises, it's definitely a must-see if you are in Sydney and want to shop for clothes.
Go shopping in Pitt St Mall!! Excellent shoes/bags. The Star City Casino...VERY Vegas!! Huge & absolutely worthwhile!! Clubs, entertainment, food, everything is there in the casino.
Fondest memory: When I was in Sydney last, it was because my sister & I won a competition to attend the Australian Premiere of 'Mickey Blue Eyes' @ the new Fox Studios. SO COOL!! We got to meet Liz Hurley & Hugh Grant among other Aussie actors/industry people....but the thing beat it all was walking down the red carpet...and the papparrazzi actually asked us to stop for photos!! And we ended up in the social pages too, but we were the only non-famous people who ended up in the pages!! It was so incredibly cool!!
Favorite thing: Go shopping!! :) It's great to go shopping in Sydney because there are all sorts of shops and they are much bigger and better than the shops here... Sydney is a wonderful place to shop! ;)