December 17, 2020

Rustys Markets in Cairns Queensland

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Neatly tucked between Grafton Street and Sheridan Street in the heart of Cairns City, is home to one of the most iconic attractions in FNQ… Rusty’s Markets.

Rusty’s Markets is a fresh food lover’s delight. It gives you that homely feel as you navigate your way through fresh fruit and vegetable stalls. The vendors greet you with a smile, and have been known for treating your kids to a banana or two as you’re doing your shopping.

My kids enjoying the fresh produce at Rusty’s Markets in Cairns

We’ve lived in Cairns for almost 7 years now.

But, Rusty’s Market’s has called Cairns home for many more years than that…

It was born in 1975 when it was made up of just 6 stalls.

Since then, Rusty’s has grown considerably.

It is believed that the markets are now made up of around 180 stalls. You’ll find fruit and vegetable vendors, food stalls, juice bars, souvenirs, massage beds, bakers, pastries, cheese vendors and so much more.

I love that our kids can experience and learn about all the fragrant fruits, vegetables and herbs on display.

Meanwhile they’re supporting an entire network of local farmers and businesses.

It’s such a valuable lesson that we can teach our children. It also happens to be a great way of kids establishing a good relationship with healthy food.

If you have young toddlers, I’m sure you agree can be challenging sometimes.

It’s so nice to have access to fresh fruit and vegetables when travelling. Constantly eating out can make you feel heavy and can quickly get expensive.

Its one of the main reasons I always opt for self-catering apartments which have good cooking facilities.

Even if you’re not keen on cooking while you’re on vacation, a quick trip to Rusty’s Markets is a the perfect way to stock up on some healthy snacks for a day trip full of exploring.

If you’re in Cairns over the weekend, I recommend you give Rusty’s Markets in Cairns a visit.

Experience the aromas, step out of your comfort zone and try some unusual tropical fruits grown that were grown locally in the region and you’ll struggle to find anywhere else.

When To Visit Rusty’s Markets in Cairns

You can visit Rusty’s Markets in Cairns on weekends; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. During the weekdays, Rusty’s Markets is closed.

  • Friday: 5am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 5am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 5am – 3pm

Heading to Rusty’s early on a Friday morning is when you’ll find the freshest of the produce on sale for the weekend.

By Sunday afternoon, vendors start packing up their produce, and often sell off the remainder of their stock at very low prices.

You can pick up some serious bargains, but keep in mind that if you’re leaving your visit to Sunday, you may miss out on some fruits or vegetables that you need, and you’ll be getting the ‘leftovers’ from the weekend.

At this point, herbs, etc. may not last as long as they’ve been on display all week.

Food Vendors To Visit at Rusty’s Markets

Do yourself a favor and give yourself a bit of extra time at Rusty’s Markets and rock up hungry!

Chicken Shed Korean Chicken Food Vendor at Rusty's Markets in Cairns
Chicken Shed Korean Chicken Food Vendor at Rusty’s Markets in Cairns

There are quite a number of awesome food vendors offering a range of lunch options, regardless of what you’re looking for… Vietnamese, Korean, Greek Kebabs, Thai Green Paw Paw Salads, Baguettes, Crepes, Cakes, Juice Bars, German Sausages and more!

My top 3 recommendations to check out when visiting Rusty’s Markets in Cairns:

  1. The Chicken Shed – Korean Fried Chicken
  2. Thi Thi’s Cafe – Vietnamese Banh Mi (Sandwich & Pho Bar)
  3. Annee’s Caphe Sua Da – Vietnamese Iced Coffee.
Annee's Caphe Sua Da Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cafe at Rusty's Markets
Annees Caphe Sua Da – Vietnamese Iced Coffee in Rusty’s Markets

Getting To Rusty’s Markets

You can access Rusty’s Markets from either Grafton Street or Sheridan Street.

There is a reasonable amount of street parking on both of these streets, although if you go at a busy time, you might find that you need to park about a block away.

Depending on what time you’re visiting the Markets, you may need to pay for this parking, although it’s only going to cost you a couple of dollars at most.

If coming from the Sheridan Street side of Rusty’s Markets, you’ll also find a ramp leading up to a car park above the markets which is free for the first 2 hours. After that, you’ll start paying.

Final Thoughts

Rusty’s Markets in Cairns is just one of many markets in Cairns and surrounding areas. But, it is the most famously known for its high quality, fresh, and affordable, locally sourced produce.

The markets are the perfect place to grab a bit to each for lunch while doing your shopping or, even just embarking on an adventure of discovery through food.

It’s for this reason, that I believe Rusty’s Markets in Cairns deserves pride of place in any foodie’s, ‘Cairns Food Guide’.

Let me know in the comments below if you plan on visiting Rusty’s Markets during your time in Cairns. And, remember to save this pin to your Pinterest account so you can come back to it at any time.

rusty's markets in cairns queensland

About the author 

Kate Mannion

Hi, I'm Kate! Mum of 2, and Cairns local for the last 7 years. I love taking photos (although I still have a lot to learn) and taking the drone up to see this beautiful region from a different perspective. I hope to help you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience while visiting the region! 

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  1. Hello!

    I’ll be visiting Cairns next month. Unfortunately, I’ll be arriving on Saturday evening, which leaves only Sunday morning for me to explore the markets.

    If I visit at around 6am on Sunday, will there already be many stalls open? More importantly, are any of the food stalls open at that time? Thanks!

    1. Hi Khai,
      Rusty’s Markets are only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but they open very early (from 5am).

      Trading does start very early at the markets to get the most out of the weekend before they need to pack up Sunday afternoon (closes around 3pm). Sunday morning is a good time to visit. Regarding the food stalls, I cannot guarantee for certain which stalls will be open. There are places you can grab coffee/pastries etc. that I would expect to be open, but others such as the Chicken Shed, Korean Food, Vietnamese stall may not be.

      I’d love to know what was open when you visit next month. Feel free to drop back onto the blog and leave a comment to let me (and the other readers) know! Enjoy your time here!

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