European settlers, a proximity to Asia and a rich and complex Aboriginal heritage are just three of the factors influencing Australia’s incredibly interesting local cuisine.
Multiculturalism, geographic isolation and clear, untouched waterways: Australia’s local cuisine is influenced by a variety of factors that work together to create some of the most celebrated food experiences on Earth. Dine on extraordinary seafood, imbibe on award-winning wines, raise your glass to an extraordinary view or try one of the world’s best whiskies: it’s all on offer in Australia.
Have a seafood adventure, from ocean to plate
Australia is home to some of the world’s most pristine waters – one major reason why Australian seafood has a global reputation for excellence. If you’re keen to sample some of Australia’s best seafood, start at Sydney Fish Market - an iconic local attraction in Sydney where visitors flock daily to see the bountiful supplies of fresh fish. Alternatively, head to nearby restaurants like multi-award-winning Saint Peter, which showcases Australia’s sustainable approach to sourcing and eating local delicacies like marron and Sydney rock oysters. On Tasmania’s beautiful eastern coast, at luxury lodge Saffire Freycinet or Freycinet Marine Farm, you can even pluck your own oysters and eat them directly from the sea. Or head to the Kimberley to experience the traditional hunt for mud crab with Indigenous custodian Brian Lee.
Dine al fresco, Australian style
Year-round sunshine, picturesque locations and a laidback local lifestyle: it’s perhaps not surprising Australia has developed a strong culture of al fresco dining. As a visitor, you’ll benefit from restaurants in memorable places, where the view is often an integral part of the dining experience. In subtropical Brisbane, experience a cosmopolitan mix of eateries by the waterfront, such as Jellyfish, Customs House and Hello Please. In Perth you’ll find breakfast on the balcony at Bib & Tucker or lunch overlooking the Indian Ocean at Odyssea. Alternatively, take to one of the many rooftop dining locations in Melbourne – Rooftop at QT might be a good place to start. You can also choose to break away from the city entirely, experiencing outdoor dining with an element of adventure via the likes of Fervor in Western Australia.
Live an island dream
Tasmania might be best known for its pristine wilderness, but it’s also home to some of the world’s best whisky distillers, including Lark Distillery. Established in 1992, Lark’s Cellar Door & Whisky Bar (located in Hobart) offers several memorable whisky tasting experiences. You may also wish to discover Nant, located at Bothwell in the Central Highlands (an hour north of Hobart), or travel to Burnie on the island’s northern coast, where celebrated Hellyers Road Distillery offers behind-the-scenes tours. Tasmania’s success in distilling isn’t limited to whisky, either; with Hartshorn’s burgeoning reputation for craft gin – not to mention vodka made using sheep whey – the island has become a hot destination for spirit connoisseurs of several kinds.
Get hands on
Food always tastes better when you’ve had a hand in creating it. And there are plenty of opportunities to get hands-on food experiences in Australia’s pristine growing regions. They present not only a great way to get a taste of rural life but the chance to meet farmers who’ve lived on the land for generations. Try picking a tree-ripened apple at Rayner’s Orchard in Victoria’s fertile Yarra Valley or plucking fresh berries from the bush at Hillwood Berry Farm in Launceston in northern Tasmania. In the Margaret River region of Western Australia, stay at Burnside Organic Farm, and wander around their organic vegetable gardens, picking as you go, or head to Manjimup and take the dogs out in search of the prized black truffle.
Taste Australia’s top drops
With an international reputation for creating world-class wines, there’s no shortage of wine-tasting experiences across Australia. Wineries across the country showcase more than wine, too. In Tasmania, modern art is the co-star at Moorilla Estate – the cellar door is part of Hobart’s extraordinary Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – while d’Arenberg in South Australia’s McLaren Vale region is as famous for its striking modern architecture as it is for its wines. Of course, food and wine are a natural fit, and there are a multitude of wineries excelling at both. Chefs to watch include Phil Wood at Pt Leo on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Scott Huggins at the iconic Penfolds Magill Estate in South Australia, Matt Stone and Jo Barrett at Oakridge Wines in the Yarra Valley in Victoria and Dan Gedge at Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River, Western Australia.
Discover a multicultural culinary landscape
Australia’s culinary reputation has been built, in recent years, on its rich multicultural tapestry. Across the country you can find restaurants and experiences that cater to cultural needs, such as halal certification. From south-east Asian eateries and Middle Eastern-inspired restaurants to even the humble burger, Australian chefs are switched on to making their food accessible to everyone. Gazi, owned by celebrity chef George Calombaris, specialises in Greek street food, with wood-roasted meat and a typical Melbournian energy. At Efendy in Sydney’s Balmain, chef Somer Sivrioglu explores the food of his Turkish homeland. Both offer halal menus.
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