Reading the review or the Cotters Markets I found it strange that these markets have been given an "excellent" rating by two reviewers. Then I noticed that those two reviews were largely identical, which really calls In to question the veracity of each. The first of those reviews, posted in December 2012 seems a bit too much like advertising material, either by a stall holder or market organiser. I hope I'm wrong, but the copy and paste review, and reviews which are clearly at odds with reality suggests otherwise.
Unfortunately, these markets just aren't that good. There's nothing specifically wrong with them, they just aren't very good. My wife and I have visited these markets several times in the last year or two and they have steadily gone down hill. MThe location is nice and there are a couple of cafés in the market precinct, and some of the shops are also open. A wander around the markets followed by lunch at the Brewery is a very fine way to spend Sunday. But if you are looking for excellent markets, these do not fit that description. The reasons for this are basically the number, type and quality of the stall holders.
To start, there are relatively few stalls here. The market precinct extends up both sides of Flinders Street for two city blocks. But all the stalls could easily fit into one side of the road in one block. They are spread out over too great a distance and the result is that the market looks desolate, rather than presenting a gay festival atmosphere. Yes there is entertainment, but when we've been there this has been some fairly lame country and western singer or some faded local music society star belting out the old classics on a karaoke machine. I'm taking a little licence here, but you get my point. Don't expect to sit around being entertained by the talent on show.
There are a couple of fresh produce sellers and they are quite good. In fact the herbs available here, according to my wife, are as good here as any other produce market. But the rest of the stalls are pretty amateurish and just a little bit sad.
At our last visit there seemed to be a preponderance of grandma stalls selling grandma crafts and baked goods. Far be it from me to raise any criticism of grandmas and I don't mean to do so. But home made stuffed toys, gaudily embroiled t-shirts and home made chocolate brownies really aren't enough to create a great market. Unfortunately stalls selling an array of imported Chinese rubbish do make an appearance here as they do in other markets. They're a bit like a rash on the bum of the market scene, but it guess somebody must be buying all that cheap rubbish. The point is that this market needs more, and more varied stalls, as well as some true quality artisan products.
Unfortunately though there was a complete absence of these types of stalls. For example, we didn't see any any local artisan food products and no fine woodworking. This has to be the only market in North Queensland without at least one wood turner.
The Willows markets attracts a much larger number of stall holders and customers, and they don't have the amenity of shops and cafés immediately adjacent to the stalls. Further north, the Yungaburra and Port Douglas markets leave the Cotters Markets in the shade. Those markets create a genuine day out. People drive from all over the region to attend those two markets and they have become tourist attractions in their own right. If you are expecting a similar experience from these markets you will be very, very disappointed.
I started out by saying that there was nothing really wrong with these markets, and that's true. But neither is there anything special about them. As a place to buy fresh vegetables and fruit it's fine, cheaper than Woolies, but no better than any other market. But it's simply not the sort of place you'd visit for the purpose of spending a whole leisurely morning. By all means plan to drive in and have a look, but expect that once you've walked up one side of the street and back, about 10 minutes probably, you'll be looking for something else to do.
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