Rubble & Riches Market, 8-18 Leakes Rd, Laverton. Phone: 9369 6426
The shock of stumbling upon Rubble & Riches Market in Laverton is intense and pleasurable.
Earlier in the day I’d been contemplating an entire day – indeed, an entire weekend – free and clear.
Extremely desirous was I of adventure, an outing, something good to eat and generally having my mind blown.
But not for the first time I was struck by a feeling that after more than a decade in the west, and after two years of full-on blogging activity that has entailed much exploration, I’d tapped our region out, that I’d been everywhere and done pretty much everything.
I even resorted to a slightly panicked perusal of Google maps in order to discover some shopping strip or industrial estate we had yet to examine.
As I say, this nagging feeling has visited previously.
It’s ridiculous. It’s misplaced. It always is.
So off I head, driving west on the freeway and taking the Kororoit Rd off ramp, with only some vague awareness of a Laverton market to steer me.
On Leakes Rd, I am happily stunned to see thousands of people and thousands of cars.
Many people are already departing, even though it’s just on noon, arms laden with market-bought goodies of many kinds.
I park in a vast, muddy parking lot and make my way to one of the market entrances, where I pay my $1 entry fee.
Yes, that’s correct – this is a market that charges an entry fee.
The market is pretty darn amazing – in the range of goods on sale, the diversity of the customers and the varied range of dogs, all of it underscored by amplified, slightly distorted Vietnamese Cheesy Pop Cover Versions such as Hank Williams’ Jambalaya.
The longer I spend in the west, the more I come to believe that Vietnamese Cheesy Pop Cover Versions are a lofty, refined and magical artform.
According to its website, the market has about 1400 stalls set on about 14 hectares, including two large pavilions.
Naturally, the market bears some resemblance to markets Victoria and Footscray.
But it’s also very, very different.
For Rubble & Riches also has elements that make it feel like part swap meet, part garage sale and part op shop.
There’s secondhand small machinery, furniture and brickabrack of a bewildering variety, along with all the usual clothing and knicknacks that are market staples.
There’s a quite nice range of food-to-eat-right-now stalls, but only a very small coverage of fruit and vegetables, and none at all that I could see of fresh meat, poultry or fish.
To my utter delight, there’s an outdoor Vietnamese eatery set up in an old bus and with patrons eating under adjacent canvas.
The food they’re eating looks fine – banh mi, rice and pork chop and even some interesting looking vegetarian soup noodle options.
But after checking out the entire site, I opt first up for a bratwurst from the grill shop set up by Radtke Catering, the intoxicating aromas from which permeate the hall in which it is situated.
As well as a range of snags, they’re cooking up ham and chicken steaks.
My sausage is sold to me under the name German bratwurst, but is quite different texture and even taste to those I am familiar with from the Vic Market. Still, at $5.50 it’s good.
Still, hungry I choose next a chorizo ($7) from a stall run by a lovely, smiling Chilean dude and his friendly staff (top photo).
I go with the green salsa, but soon discover it’s tame, so return for a big dollop of the its red sibling. It’s not red hot either, but spices things up nicely and leaves a tingle on my lips.
At this point, I say to myself: “Righto – enough of this health food stuff … fruit for the rest of the day!”
Accordingly, I purchase a baguette-shaped chocolate brioch loaf ($2.50) from Nikola, who is manning the Noisette baked goodies stall.
His company has been at the market for just three weeks and his verdict is still out on its merits.
On reflection, I have some doubts about the practical utility of this market.
I could never see us choosing it over our other favourites for stocking up the house with food or anything else.
But for a weekend visit of high entertainment value, it’s all class.
Having assumed that the folks who are collecting the $1 entry fee are doing so on behalf of some local community or sports group, I ask if that is the case as I am departing.
Not so, I’m, told – this is weekend work for them, they get paid and the fee dosh goes to the market operators.
The market, which I gather has been running for at least 15 years, is open from 7am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.