Dandenong Market’s 154th birthday will be a low-key celebration, in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions.
In the heart of Dandenong since 1866, the birthday date rolls around on Saturday 10 October.
As the accompanying photos show, the market’s building and place as a “melting pot of culture” have constantly evolved, says general manager Jennifer Hibbs.
The market holds childhood memories for many customers, she says. Such as the taste of a sweet Dandee donut after school, the football oval next door or being pushed around the market by Grandma in a jeep.
In the early days, Dandenong Market was a fortnightly livestock market visited by swarms of local and Gippsland farmers – some even travelling days to trade.
Popular items included livestock, dairy products and fresh fruit as well has hay, honey and lard.
The market moved to its current site in 1927 to accommodate the region’s ever-growing population.
The offerings began to change too. Confectionary, clothing, hosiery, leather, shoes, smallgoods and grocery traders were added to the list of popular sellers who were now trading weekly.
Much like it is today, Dandenong Market has remained open through large and devastating world events to support the community.
The market was converted into a sleeping quarters for soldiers in the second World War and played a vital role in providing economic opportunities for people during The Great Depression.
In Covid-struck 2020, Dandenong Market has continued to trade.
“If there is one good news story in the midst of Covid-19, it is the love felt from the market community,” Ms Hibbs said.
Dandenong Market welcomes more than 5.6 million visitors each year to more than 200 small family businesses sell a variety of products ranging from soaps to seedlings, fish to flowers and breads to Bahn mi.
It celebrates the council area’s 156 different nationalities as well as holding annual cultural events that welcome more than 35,000 people.
“We eagerly await the day we can reintroduce a sense of normality to the Market but look forward to witnessing the ever-changing narrative that is Dandenong Market,” Ms Hibbs said.