Review: Riverside Markets, Brisbane City Botanic Gardens (Brisbane, Australia)

Just a heads up, if you’re planning to visit Riverside Markets, do note that it is located at the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, which is in the CBD area, and not the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, which is near Mount Coo-Tha. I was momentarily confused while planning my itinerary until I realized they were two different locations despite their names being so similar.

My husband and I entered the market from the corner of Albert Street and Alice Street via a very humble and unassuming entrance. While this market opens on Sundays from 8am to 3pm, its sister market, Kelvin Grove Village Market, run by the same organizers opens on Saturdays from 6am to 1pm.

Entrance to Riverside Markets from the corner of Albert Street and Alice Street
Entrance to Riverside Markets from the corner of Albert Street and Alice Street

There were so many interesting knick-knacks on display and uncommon types of food for sale, not forgetting the friendly vendors at this market. I was definitely not disappointed. At the entrance, we were greeted by a vendor lady showing passers-by how to play the ocarina, a wind instrument of sorts that sounds like a flute. There was also a stall selling pencils and fountain pens made out of Australian timber, which looked really professional and neat. One of the food stalls was selling Brazilian pastels, a kind of fried pie with filling inside (I haven’t seen this sold anywhere else!).

As I was browsing the stalls, a vendor selling art pieces called out to me and assured me that she wasn’t into hard-selling, she just wanted make people happy by sharing her stories. I thought, why not, and went over to check it out. She explained that every art piece she creates has a story behind it, which is pretty cool! To put such thought into expressing the everyday life in her art was both relatable and endearing. At the end of her sharing, she said that even if I didn’t get any item from her, at least I got a smile from the experience. What a genuine and heartwarming human being (:

Rows of shops at Riverside Markets

Rows of shops at Riverside Markets

My overall rating of the experience: 3 out of 5 stars. This rating may come as a surprise given the many positives I raised in the review. Despite the unique products and food, as well as that lovely vendor who wanted to share happiness through her stories, there were some things that unfortunately took away from the experience. First, the atmosphere just didn’t feel very vibrant or happening, maybe because there weren’t many people and stalls to begin with (we finished browsing the whole stretch in about 10 minutes). Maybe some live music would’ve helped lift the mood here (it says on their website that they have live bands every Sunday but no timings indicated as to when they start playing). Second, even though I really wanted to buy particular items that piqued my interest, they were too pricey. A lively atmosphere and value for money are essential for a good experience at any market in my books, and this one didn’t deliver as well on those points.

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