To get to Sydney’s wonderful Paddy’s Markets from Rydges Sydney Central just head towards Darling Harbour, go past Central Railway, across George Street to the Haymarket and, opposite Chinatown, on the corner of Hay and Thomas Streets is Paddy’s. Paddy’s has held a central place in Sydney’s history for over 150 years. They are Sydney’s biggest markets and have a wide variety of stalls selling food, fashion, gifts and gadgets in a true market atmosphere. The markets open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00am to 6:00pm.
These days there are two Paddy’s Markets – the Haymarket one and the other at Flemington. Combined they have over 1000 stalls but the Flemington ones are more about fruit and vegetables and lack the fun and atmosphere of the Haymarket site, which is much more a ‘flea-market’ in style.
As they say, one person’s treasure is another person’s trash and chances are you will find a smattering of both. Vendors will be offering souvenirs, sporting goods, gifts, clothes, cosmetics, sunglasses, craft, CDs, phone accessories, flowers, jewellery and more. Prices start at value and work down from there if you don’t mind a bit of friendly banter and haggling. On weekends you will find the volume increases slightly when the fresh fruit, vegie and seafood vendors spruik their wares at wholesale prices.
A bit of Paddy’s history – in 1834, the Governor of NSW, General Richard Bourke, moved the cattle, grain and hay markets to Campbell Street (hence the name ‘Haymarket’). Opposite the markets was a site that was a favourite with circuses and the combination of sideshow attractions and bustling markets gave the place a carnival atmosphere and that somehow got into the markets DNA. A fruit market opened on the former circus site in the 1890’s and stall holders had to apply for space or leave the area. These days it is very much the same – here’s a link to the official Paddy’s Markets website and you will see that there are casual stalls available as well as permanent stands for sale.
When the markets moved to Flemington they included a new “Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets” in the complex and that opened in 1975. While the Flemington incarnation is fabulous for fresh produce and is Australia’s largest flower market for fresh cut flowers as well as Australia’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable market you just can’t bottle and transport atmosphere. Due to its nature and reason for being, the Flemington markets has a far more ‘serious’ approach to operating – you sometimes get the feeling at the Haymarket Paddy’s that the vendors are there as much for fun as for business.
While Paddy’s a fabulous Sydney attraction in its own right, the Haymarket location makes it ideal for combining with a visit to the Darling Harbour attractions (Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney Zoo, Madame Tussauds, Powerhouse Museum, Maritime Museum, IMAX Theatre, Chinese Garden of Friendship etc)… and if the markets drum up an appetite for restaurant dining, Dixon Street in Chinatown is just across the road.