Market History

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Dandenong Market history timeline

For tens of thousands of years, the area in which Greater Dandenong is now located was the territory of the Wurundjeri and Boonerwrung (or Bunurong) tribes of the Kulin Nation. 

1830s - 1860s
Joseph Hawdon - a squatter and drover newly arrived in the colonies - was the first white man to settle in the Dandenong area. The first permanent dwelling was erected in the 1840s in what would soon be the township called Dandenong.

The area where Dandenong Market stands was established in the 1850s as 'The Grange Estate' and was originally owned by Robert Caldicot Walker in 1846. RC Walker later became one of the first commissioners of the Dandenong Market, in 1866.

In November 1863 ratepayers petitioned for the establishment of a Market and in 1864 the Colonial Government officially granted approval for the development of the Dandenong Market

Dandenong Market officially opened on Tuesday 10 October 1866, on the corner of Lonsdale and McCrae streets, with cattle, pigs and sheep up for sale. It wasn't long before an informal market sprung up on the pavements around the stockyards with local farmers selling surplus produce and second-hand items, while itinerant merchants sold a variety of wares. At first held every second Tuesday, the market was soon a weekly event. Dandenong Market was built with support from Thomas Rosling and his business partner Robert Huckson. In 1866, Rosling and Huckson leased the market for two years, at £1 a year, and took responsibility for building the first market stockyards, sheds and fences. Thomas Rosling ran the market for nine years until 1873, when the recently formed Shire of Dandenong took over the operation of the market.

By 1870, the market had up to 300 vendors and buyers in attendance. Auctioneers sold livestock, fruit, dairy products, skins, lard, honey, hay and other farm produce.  Farmers from throughout the La Trobe Valley and Gippsland travelled to Dandenong to buy and sell.

In 1926 the Market began relocating to the site where it sits today, on the Grange Estate, on corner of Clow and Cleeland Streets. The new market was officially opened on 4 October 1927 with the produce hall on the corner of Clow Street, and the stock market sale ring and yards behind it extending up Cleeland Street.

1939 – 1945
During World War II, the market served an important function, providing vital food supplies for the war effort from local farms and factories. From June, 1940, all of the produce sections, including the poultry section, and the grandstand in the showgrounds had been converted into sleeping quarters for recruits — more than 1000 men.

In 1958, after almost 90 years of continual arguments and discussions in the stock market was finally removed from the heart of Dandenong, moving to new and purpose built facilities on Cheltenham Road behind the Dandenong rail yards. The first cattle sale was held in January 1958, and by October 1959 all the livestock was removed from the old site.

In 1975 the market site was redeveloped. The old produce hall was demolished and new brick produce and fruit halls were built further along Cleeland Street. The council was keen to retain the rural atmosphere and European market style and an open air section was retained and it was marketed with the slogan 'City shopping with a country atmosphere.'

In order to boost Market revenue, it was suggested that a second market day be held every week. From 3 December 1976, the Dandenong City Council began a six-month trial of opening the market on Friday as well as Tuesday. This proposal given full support by the Chamber of Commerce and a campaign commenced.

A third market day was added in 1982, with the launch of Saturday trading and Dandenong promoted itself as 'The Market Town'.

In 1992 the market celebrated 125 years with a range of promotional activities. 

In 1993, as an acknowledgement of the sign’s social, cultural and historical significance in Greater Dandenong, the Dandy Pig was given a new lease on life when it was recovered from storage and erected at the Dandenong Produce Market on Clow Street. ‘The Dandy Pig’ is the much-loved mascot of the Dandenong Market. The neon sign of a finely dressed pig cheerfully tipping his top hat welcomes shoppers to the Market. The sign was originally part of a larger sign for the Gippsland Co-operative Bacon Curing Company logo and was first erected in 1950, making it one of the first animated advertising signs in the region.

The buildings were overhauled again in 1996, with extensions to the fruit and vegetable section and the development of a multi-level car park, as well as new signs, colourful awnings and a new paint job inside and out. The Dandy Pig neon sign which had previously been located above a shop on Lonsdale Street was erected over the Market in December 1996.

2005 - 2010
Between 2005 and 2010 there was a $26 million redevelopment of the Dandenong Market.  In 2006, a new loading dock, waste areas and upgrade of infrastructure was carried out. After some opposition an Aldi supermarket was built within the Market precinct, and it opened to the public in 2006. Construction of the new General Merchandise Hall was completed in October 2009 and the Produce hall opened in May 2010.  Finally with the completion of the new Meat, Fish and Deli Hall, the new Dandenong Market was officially opened on Saturday 4 June 2011.

Sunday trading commenced 6 October 2013.

Today, Dandenong Market features over 200 market traders, spread over more than 8000 square metres. Dandenong Market continues to be a vibrant community asset that is loved by both the local and regional community. Like the city itself it has changed and evolved to suit the requirements and expectations of its customers, growing from a livestock and produce market to the one of the premier shopping destination of the southeast and Greater Gippsland area. It brings together 150 different nationalities under one roof and sells fresh local produce, meat, vegetables, cheeses and spices.


Market history

Order Dandenong Market: Celebrating 150 Years hard cover coffee table book ($30) from Slattery Media. Copies can also be purchased from Dandenong Market's Market management Office located at 40 Cleeland Street. 

Buy the Dandenong Market: Celebrating 150 Years iBook ($14.99) from iTunes

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