Shields Orchard, Bilpin, New South Wales © Destination NSW
Meaningful food experiences for families
Memorable culinary adventures abound for all families travelling in Australia.
By Lindy Alexander
Families travelling in Australia are in for a treat. From hunting mud crabs the traditional way with an Aboriginal guide to tasting your first camel milk ice-cream, there are dozens of unique family-friendly culinary experiences to be discovered across the country. These gourmet encounters are sure to fill hearts and bellies – big and little alike.
The Humble Dumpling
Where: 20 minutes' drive north-east of central Melbourne.
Many Asian dishes, including dumplings, are traditionally made sitting around the table with family and friends. Chef Angie Chong invites families to recreate this tradition in cooking classes she hosts at The Humble Dumpling. Wander the on-site garden with your kids, picking vegetables and herbs like tatsoi, wombok, garlic chives and spring onions for your dumpling filling, before rolling out the dough and creating delicate, delicious dumplings.
Where: just over an hour’s drive south of Melbourne.
November through to April is strawberry-picking season at Sunny Ridge strawberry farm on the scenic Mornington Peninsula. Great fun for families, it’s the best kind of treasure hunt – fill your container (provided) with the juiciest red berries to take home. Better yet, children under four years can enter the strawberry fields for free. It’s a beautiful – and delicious – way to connect with your family around Australia’s delicious home-grown produce.
The Meat Room
Where: one-hour north of Melbourne.
Roll up your sleeves and learn exactly what makes a sausage taste great with butcher James Mele at The Meat Room. Participants in Mele’s family-friendly sausage-making classes will discover different flavour combinations using fresh herbs and spices, before mixing and filling your own sausages to take home for the ultimate family barbecue. A real can’t-miss for families keen to discover the farm-to-table approach.
Blue Tree Honey Farm
Where: about two hours’ drive south-east of Melbourne.
If your family has a sweet tooth, take a trip to southern Gippsland to visit Blue Tree Honey Farm. At this unique farm-gate store, children big and small can observe hives, and taste the range of uniquely Australian flavours they produce, such as red gum, yellow box and orange blossom. Jams, jellies, preserves and sauces made with produce grown on the farm or sourced from other local farms are also available for purchase.
Where: Sydney’s inner-west.
Few things smell as good as freshly-baked bread, and in a family-friendly three-hour class at Cornersmith you’ll make three breads from around the world – Irish soda bread, Ligurian focaccia and a French socca (a chickpea flatbread). But Cornersmith’s focus on community, ethically sourced produce and sustainability means students big and small are likely to learn more than just the art of bread-making.
Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory
Chocoholic families will love the Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory in the regional New South Wales town of Junee. Tour the factory, housed in a historic flour mill, to see how liquorice is cooked, cooled and sliced into thick lengths. Then book in for a class to make a favourite Australian treat: rocky road; a chocolate slice filled with marshmallows and sweets.
Bilpin Springs Orchard
Where: Bilpin, just over a one-hour drive from Sydney.
From February to June, the orchards of the majestic Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, brim with fruit. At Bilpin Springs Orchard, you can pick over 11 different types of apples, including heritage varieties such as Braeburn and Bramley. Now that’s a healthy family day out.
Walkabout Cultural Adventures
Where: near Mossman Gorge, 1.5 hours’ drive north of Cairns.
Taste seasonal bush tucker and try your hand at using a traditional spear to hunt mud crab on a Walkabout Cultural Adventures tour led by a Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal guide near Mossman Gorge in the north of Queensland. Not only will your family try some tasty local produce – or at least have fun trying to catch it – but the Kuku Yalanji traditions of living in harmony with the rainforest environment offer important lessons and a meaningful experience for every member of your family.
Cape Trib Fruit Farm
Where: Cape Tribulation, three hours’ drive north of Cairns.
From dragonfruit to mangosteen, there are over 70 different varieties of tropical fruit grown at the verdant Cape Trib Farm in the heart of Cape Tribulation. With the journey including a car ferry ride over the Daintree River (look out for crocs) and potential sightings of cassowaries (huge flightless birds) on the stunning drive through the Daintree Rainforest, it’s the ultimate family adventure just getting there. When you arrive, you might just discover a few new fruity favourites.
Summer Land Camels
Where: an hour’s drive south-west of Brisbane.
Amid the lush valleys and rolling hills of Queensland’s Scenic Rim is Summer Land Camels. For a novel family day out, head to this camel farm to experience the world’s largest wild camel training centre, watch camel cheese and gelato being made, and even ride the gentle creatures. Animal-loving families of every age will appreciate this interactive and exotic culinary experience.
Teach your kids that there’s more to truffles than chocolate at the Canberra region’s annual mid-winter Truffle Festival. Pack your warm clothes and prepare for an exciting hunt with truffle dogs to find this underground delicacy, or try a truffle pizza at some of Canberra’s top truffle farms and restaurants.
Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School
Where: 45 minutes’ drive north-west of Hobart.
Almost everything you need for your cooking class at The Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School will be sourced from the beautiful kitchen's garden and farm. It's a fun experience for the whole family and a wonderful chance for older children to learn first-hand about the beauty (and sustainability) of paddock-to-plate food while visiting the island state of Tasmania.
Headed to the Northern Territory’s famed Kakadu National Park? Enrich your family’s experience by climbing aboard an open-sided safari vehicle to explore the park’s wildlife-rich wetlands and tropical savannah woodland on a tour with Animal Tracks. From June to September, the Coodina based company offers families the chance to hunt and gather traditional bush foods before participating in an Aboriginal campfire bush food cook-up at sunset.
Burnside Organic Farm
Do your kids know where their breakfast comes from? They definitely will after staying the night at Burnside Organic Farm, after which guests are welcome to join owners Lara and Jamie McCall on a morning walk around the farm to help feed the pigs, cows, geese and chickens. Then it’s time to visit the vegetable gardens and beehives before heading back to your bungalow to tuck into a breakfast basket filled with farm-fresh produce.
Stella Creek Cherry Orchard
Where: 35 minutes’ drive north-east of Adelaide.
While in northern Australia summer is synonymous with mangoes, arguably no fruit signals the start of summer in southern Australia more than cherries. Celebrate with your family by heading to Stella Creek Cherry Orchard, overlooking the stunning Onkaparinga Valley, where you'll meet a guide and learn how to pick the perfect cherry.