Site Requires Javascript - turn on javascript!

An Australian summer classic, reinvented: meet the modern ice cream truck

The ice cream van is an integral part of Australian culture, and a new wave of trucks is offering a modern take on a classic experience.

By Paul Chai
Published: 7 March, 2017

The ice cream truck is a cultural icon in Australia – locals have been buying icy treats from these brightly coloured vans for decades. In recent years however a new generation of ice cream vans has emerged, selling vegan, dairy-free, organic, decadent, even beer-flavoured treats from playfully decorated, vintage vehicles. This modern twist on an original tradition offers great insight into Australia’s changing food preferences, and delicious ice cream to boot – look out for these five trucks on your next trip.

Go dairy-free in Sydney

The team behind Sydney business Over the Moo – which makes a dairy-free ice cream substitute from coconut milk – decided to hit the streets this year to spread the word that the lactose intolerant needn’t miss out on a hot-weather treat. With fun flavours such as Choc! Choc! Who’s There?, Ginger Ninja Karate Choc! and Pandan Pecan Party!the first dairy-free ice cream truck in Australia proves there are plenty of options available for those who can’t enjoy traditional ice cream. “This van is an extension of our dream to offer super-indulgent desserts that are easy on dairy intolerant tummies,” says Over the Moo boss Alex Houseman. “There is nothing else like it in Australia right now; we thought it was well overdue.”

Devour an ice cream in Adelaide

Devour Dessert Van, Adelaide, South Australia

Well-known dessert chef Quang Nguyen has updated a 30-year-old soft-serve van with new equipment and a paint job and set it loose on the streets of Adelaide. The Devour Dessert Van is the mobile version of Nguyen’s famous Devour Cafe Patisserie, serving up dishes such as chocolate brownie sundae with salted caramel fudge and caramelised cornflakes; and salted caramel baos (Chinese buns).

Have organic gelato in Melbourne

Billy van Creamy, Melbourne, Victoria

Billy van Creamy is the first organic gelato truck to ply Melbourne’s streets, serving up natural artisan gelato in flavours such as macadamia and honey; peanut butter and jam; and even beer – how Australian is that? It’s run by brothers Alex and Mitch Wells, and the key to their success is simplicity: they don’t use any synthetic stabilisers or emulsifiers, just all-natural ingredients.

Step back in time in Perth

Look out for a duck-egg blue vintage caravan pumping out swinging ’60s music in Adelaide and you will find owner Katie Earl, of Delish Ice, selling artisan ice pops. Inspired to start the company during a trip to a summer music festival, Earl says business keeps on growing “because in Western Australia it is constantly hot”. But while the digs are retro, the premium pops are seriously modern and fruity, with flavours such as basil and elderflower; lychee, pineapple and lime; and watermelon lemonade. Creamy options include salted malted caramel and creamy cold-brew iced coffee.

Get fruity on the streets of Brisbane

Yummi Fruit Ice-Creamery, Brisbane, Queensland

In Brisbane and on the Gold Coast Yummi Fruit Ice-Creamery blends real fruit with vanilla ice-cream to provide an original, year-round service using local produce. At the Yummi truck you’ll find fruit ice cream flavours such as raspberry and strawberry, plus a range of fruit frappes, fruity ice blocks and milkshakes. Don’t miss the mango ice cream – the state of Queensland (home to Brisbane and the Gold Coast) is famous for its mangoes, which Queenslanders devour by the crate-load during summer.