At the northern edge of Melbourne’s commercial heart are a couple of open city blocks that house the sheds, pavilions and parking spaces of the city’s historic Queen Victoria Market. Established in 1878, the Vic Market—or Queen Vic—as it’s known to the locals who swarm to its fruit and vegetable stalls, its butchers and fishmongers, its delicatessens and other specialty food stores, is also one of Melbourne’s major tourist destinations, attracting visitors who also come to enjoy its hearty fast foods, cheap souvenirs and jumble of general merchandise.
Far from the antiseptic ambience of the city’s supermarkets, the Vic Market’s atmosphere is one of history and of soul. I used to live down the street and I loved joining the weekend throng to pick up fresh food supplies. I enjoyed the live music and world cuisine at the weekly summer evening markets. But more than that, I loved walking through its deserted grounds at night. With its shops shuttered, boxed and bound, the sleeping market was a dreamlike city oasis, a quiet, contemplative and poetic space of shadow and light.