State by state, these are the best places in Australia to taste the fruits of the sea.
Known as the Harbour City, Sydney has more than its fair share of seafood experiences. Head to Sydney Fish Market to see oysters freshly shucked, then take to the waterside to enjoy a platter of fish and chips cooked to order. Keen cooks can learn to prepare dishes at the resident Sydney Seafood School, while nearby restaurant Flying Fish serves a six-course seafood tasting menu – think snapper fillet with white curry, king prawn and mango yoghurt. On the south coast, a three-hour drive south of Sydney, celebrity chef Rick Stein has his own restaurant at boutique hotel Bannisters by the Sea, which celebrates local seafood. Enjoy a meal overlooking the rugged beach below.
In Canberra, Maestral Seafood Restaurant specialises in Croatian and Mediterranean fare such as grilled octopus and incredible antipasto platters. For the catch of the day, visit the renowned Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets where Ocean Fresh Seafoods offers freshly shucked Sydney rock and Pacific oysters, while Sea Harvest specialises in local seafood such as prawns, crab and lobster.
The Northern Territory is most famous for wild barramundi, which comes into season between March and November. On the far north coast of Australia, fish for your own barramundi, longtail tuna and Spanish mackerel, then cook it up for a fresh feast at Barramundi Lodge in Arnhem Land. Pick up sustainably sourced ingredients such as mud crabs and mussels at Carmel's Fish Market. Cook it yourself, or stop into Rachel's Seafood Shack on-site to have it professionally prepared.
Go on an epicurean adventure along South Australia’s stunning coastline. Follow the Eyre Peninsula Seafood Trail from Whyalla to Streaky Bay, where you can take a fishing charter to catch King George whiting. In Port Lincoln, challenge yourself to eating a one kilogram oyster at Port Lincoln Hotel, and see where oysters are grown at nearby idyllic Coffin Bay. In Adelaide, visit the beachside suburb of Glenelg and dine at Sammys on the Marina, which serves buckets of South Australian king prawns, seafood chowder and beer-battered King George whiting with chips.
Tasmania is renowned for lobster, Pacific oysters, octopus and abalone. Luxury lodge Saffire Freycinet gives guests the opportunity to don waterproof waders and enjoy straight-from-the-sea oysters while standing thigh-deep in Tasmanian waters. Freycinet Marine Farm also offers land-based tours with oyster shucking demonstrations and tastings. In the Huon Valley, along with fine wines, the trout fishing is spectacular. Rod & Fly runs guided fishing tours ranging from a full-day to a three-day trip. At Josef Chromy Winery near Launceston, you can try your hand at fly fishing in front of the cellar door restaurant. Take the Seafood Seduction boat tour around Bruny Island and enjoy rock lobster, abalone and sea urchin straight from the sea.
The climate of far north Queensland is perfectly suited to saltwater barramundi, along with tiger and Crystal Bay prawns. Here you’ll also find the famous Balmain and Moreton Bay bugs, plus spanner, blue swimmer and mud crab. Join Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours to catch mud crabs and mussels on a spearfishing trip near Port Douglas. Or try olive tapenade glazed salmon, garlic prawn spaghetti or pan-seared barramundi at Zinc Restaurant & Lounge Bar, also in Port Douglas. In Brisbane, go to Swampdog for classic fish and chips and specialties such as grilled barramundi with pesto and salt and pepper squid.
There’s an abundance of fish species that can be caught in the lake regions of Victoria including flathead, snapper, John Dory and silver dory. Seafood lovers visiting Melbourne should book in advance for ocean-to-plate restaurant The Atlantic. The restaurant features a dedicated oyster bar, an à la carte menu or a six-course dégustation with dishes such as olive oil confit Ōra King Salmon with aromatic vegetables, oysters, blood orange and aromatic spices. Gone Fishing runs chartered boat trips in Queenscliff, Portsea and Portland, to show keen fishers the best spots to find King George whiting, southern bluefin tuna and snapper.
Western Australia’s seafood and freshwater fish is some of the finest you’ll ever taste. In Perth, try Mosman’s signature platter for two and in Fremantle, tuck into classic fish and chips at Fishing Boat Harbour. The limestone chalets at Clover Cottage in the Southern Forests region are the perfect base for fly fishing fans who wish to explore the nearby lakes in search of trout. On Western Australia’s Coral Coast, Reefwalker Charters runs a dedicated rock lobster experience where travellers are taken out on the water in the early morning to collect the crustaceans from craypots. The Lobster Shack in Cervantes also runs tours of its lobster processing facility along with lunches of freshly grilled lobster.