Part 1…A popular tourist attraction in Cairns…Beyond expectations…Wish we’d visited sooner….

The sign outside the huge permanent farmer’s market in downtown Cairns, Rusty’s Markets, a popular tourist attraction as well as a favorite shopping site for locals.

Hindsight is 20/20. Had we visited the popular tourist attraction, Rusty’s Markets in Cairns earlier in our stay in Trinity Beach, we’d easily have returned on many occasions. (Click here for the map).

As soon as we entered Rusty’s Markets we knew we were in for a treat.

With easy to find and navigate free two-hour parking in a nearby ramp, we barely made it back to the car in time to avoid the overtime AUD $10, USD $7.73 additional hourly fee. Had we missed the two-hour window, the experience would certainly have been worth the fee.

Tropical flowers are on display in multiple locations.

Rusty’s Markets is a cacophony of mind-blowing shopping from a wide array of products including pretty summer dresses, handmade jewelry and crafts, and exquisite flower arrangements, to organic fruits and vegetables, meats, breads and desserts.

Having already purchased avos a few days ago when we grocery shopped I had to pass on these.

Countless casual restaurants with foods from around the world lined the perimeter including a makeshift food court where hungry tourists and locals gathered about sitting on uneven chairs and benches happily munching away on their favorites.

A mixed variety of goods are presented at some tables with specific items at others.

It was evident that most vendors are offering products as a result of ongoing hard work and creativity in developing their wares to perfection. With Rusty’s Markets only opened from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 5:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sundays, it’s a full-time job for the vendors, managing their inventory and presentation of their products to ensure a seamless three days open to the public.

Fresh greens are for sale at many displays.

For the avid local shopper, leave room in your fridge and freezer and bring a small wheeling shopping cart in order to leave hands free for gathering the multitude of treasures. For the tourist, bring durable over-sized bags for other wares you may be unable to resist to bring home with lovely memories of the shopping experience.  Cloth shopping bags are available for sale.

Tom stopped and looked at the bread display. Nothing appealed to him. He hasn’t had a bite of bread in almost three months but continues to mention how much he missed toast and jelly.

Few times in our world travels have we found a market of this size and variety. Under cover of an enormous building, it’s a year-round, regardless-of-weather venue with permanent stations for its vendors. It’s clean, well lit, and relatively easy to maneuver.

Tropical fruits, roots, and greens.  Prices are reasonable for most items.

Luckily, we visited on a Friday as opposed to the most likely busier Saturdays and Sundays. We discussed how crazy it must be when cruise ships dock in the port of Cairns with 1000 or more cruisers arriving by bus to Rusty’s Markets. Cruisers notoriously are avid shoppers and Rusty’s would be pure paradise for most.

As we approached the counter at Fetish for Food we knew we were in for a treat.

Having grocery shopped only two days earlier and with our tiny fridge and freezer packed to the gills, buying vegetables were out of the question. I was so disappointed when I couldn’t purchase grass-fed meat or organic veg as I drooled over the free-range meat, free-range chicken, and organic produce lining row after row in the vast market.

Every refrigerated case is filled with food befitting our way of eating including smoked fish, sausages, nitrate-free streaky bacon, and delectable cheeses.

However, when we spotted a meticulously presented cheese and exotics foods display, aptly named, Fetish for Food, I felt like a kid in a candy store. When the owner, Nick Down, was free to spend time with us, we were delighted with not only his knowledge of every item in his inventory but his pleasant demeanor and surprisingly reasonable prices.

Nick explained interesting facts about the various cheeses one of which we’ll expound upon tomorrow with a shocking story. Who knew?

Finally, being in a shop where I could almost eat anything offered sent me to the moon. It reminded both of us of when in March 2013 we visited the Cave Branch Jungle Lodge as guests of the owner Ian’s fabulous on site Cheese Factory. Click here for the link from that day with many great photos of our memorable experience.

There are multiple cases all filled with local and imported cheeses.

At Fetish for Food, we couldn’t help but make a fair sized pile of products I couldn’t resist. Even Tom, unlikely to do more than taste these items, got into the selection process encouraging me to grab more and more.  With only a little over two weeks, until we leave Australia, it made no sense to purchase too much, a little of which I’ll have each day.

Once we arrived home, it was fun to review our purchases.  In total, we spent AUD $77.65, USD $58.83 which was less than we’d expected for these several items. Today, we’ll prepare an appetizer plate for a pre-dinner treat.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a story on a very unusual product we purchased at Fetish for Food regarding a type of cheese and bugs, an unlikely combination we found fascinating. The foodies out there will love this. The non-foodies…please humor me. But, even you may find it entertaining if not cringe-worthy.

Much of the cheese is imported from France, as we know, the cheese capital of the world.

Another vendor that caught our eye was Wild Nature Cairns, presented by the owner, Nicola whose gentle demeanor was surely befitting the natural skin and hair care products, natural makeup, and pure essential oil products, all organic and environmentally friendly.

In addition to meats and cheeses, Nick has a display of fancy condiments and oils.
In my old life, I’d surely have walked away with a bag of girlie treasures. In this life, I can’t purchase any of these items with a lack of space in my bag and the inability to replace the preferred items when they’re gone. 
Nicola, the owner of Wild Nature is dedicated and committed to the highest quality product she can produce, mostly made utilizing the healing and therapeutic Australian Aloe Vera plant.
These days, I purchase cosmetics in grocery stores and pharmacies. I have one drugstore night cream in my possession which I’ll replace with another when it runs out. If I need body lotion, I use coconut oil. 
Nicola’s products may be used for a variety of skin conditions. Visit her site at this link.

Finding these two wonderful vendors in the busy market among the produce, grass-fed meats, exotic pastries, and endless eateries only added to our extraordinary experience…slightly under two hours of pure delight for both of us.

Back at you soon with the unusual products, we found at Rusty’s Markets.

Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2014:

This is the church where Matthew’s funeral was held in Bampton, England where Downton Abbey has been filmed over the years. For details on how this quaint village has been prepared for filming please click here. It was quite a story.