Gourmet delights… in Australia
Due to the sheer size of Australia, the country has a wide range of climates and 34,000km of coastline. With one of the largest fishing zones in the world, there is an abundance of high quality seafood, from oysters on Tasmania’s Bruny Island to rare crayfish of the western coast. There are 60 wine regions, as well as an up-and-coming craft ale and spirits scene; the best gin and rum can be sampled in Byron Bay’s distilleries.
Modern Australian cuisine has seen many influences over the years, adopting a variety of British, Irish, Mediterranean and east Asian styles. Dubbed as ‘Australia’s gourmet capital’, Melbourne’s culinary scene is renowned around the world. Ben Shewry’s restaurant, Attica, is consistently ranked as the best restaurant in Australasia and has featured in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants each year since 2010. Other notable chefs include Curtis Stone, Dan Hunter and Aristos Papandroulakis.
Located between fertile wine and food growing regions, Adelaide is often referred to as the ‘land of the long lunch’. The city’s excellent restaurants include Jock Zonfrillo’s Orana, which uses indigenous aboriginal ingredients and skills, and The Louise’s restaurant, where you can share your morning breakfast with kangaroos. Adelaide’s central market, established in 1869, is filled with fresh, local produce. Local food experts can guide you through the multicultural cuisine and the history behind some of the most popular dishes. Afterwards, why not try your hand at catching a King George whiting or swim with southern bluefin tuna at Victor Harbour?
Renowned wineries in South Australia include Jacob’s Creek and Penfolds. We recommend taking a trip to Penfolds’ Barossa Estate in the Adelaide Hills, where you can meet winemakers, learn about the process and taste the wines. You can even create your own bespoke wine blend in their laboratory! Australia’s largest wine region, the Barossa, is an hour and a half’s drive from Adelaide. 50% of the region produces shiraz, and the historic wine estates house some of the world’s oldest shiraz vineyards. The biennial Barossa Vintage Festival is a 4-day festival celebrating the culture and community of the Barossa wine region. There are more than 90 events at the festival, including long table lunches, tastings and talks.
Tasmania’s cool climate is ideal for growing grapes with fresher, naturally acidic flavours. You can taste the island’s fruit-forward pinot noirs and premium sparkling wine in Tasmania’s largest wine region, the Tamar Valley. Pair the region’s crisp wines with mouthwatering southern rock lobsters, scallops, Pacific oysters and abalone. Curried scallop pie is a Tasmanian favourite that can be found in the island’s bakeries. It’s a comforting pastry dish filled with fresh scallops that are cooked in a creamy curry sauce. For dessert, indulge in some Tasmanian fudge, made with Tasmania’s distinctive cultured butter.
You can find out more about Tasmanian cuisine here.
Western Australia is known for its gourmet flavours of black truffles, vintage wines and rare crayfish. On the southwestern coast, the Margaret River is home to some of the world’s finest crayfish and marrons. Marrons are the third largest freshwater crayfish in the world and are endemic to Western Australia’s Darling Range. Due to their rarity, and short fishing season – lasting under a month – these sweet, light crayfish are a delicacy that can be enjoyed raw, boiled or grilled.
Margaret River’s vineyards produce more than 15% of Australia’s finest vintages, with similar growing conditions to Bordeaux. No two wines here are the same, as the region’s micro-climates make each wine distinctive. Scavenge for black truffles on a Manjimup truffle hunt in Margaret River, where Superior Perigord truffles grow.
Perth has many highly-acclaimed restaurants, such as Wildflower and Co-Op Dining. Wildflower’s menu revolves around local resources and the indigenous Noongar calendar. With no set beginning or end to each season, the flow of nature and the surrounding environment guides them. Co-Op Dining focuses on providing a sustainable and organic menu, using wild foraged foods.
Renowned for its cuisine, Melbourne has some of Australia’s best restaurants. Attica has been deemed one of the top restaurants in the world since 2010. Rare ingredients such as bunya nuts, yam daisies and marrons are used to create their exclusive dishes. Brae is set in 30 acres of farmland, an hour and a half’s drive from Melbourne. This contemporary Australian restaurant changes its menu daily and uses locally grown produce.
Melbourne has a vibrant coffee scene, with plenty of character-filled cafes. Known for the flat white, have a coffee made by some of the best baristas in the world. Melbourne’s coffee aficionado Craig Simon came seventh in the 2018 World Barista Championships.
Peruse the aisles of Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market that are lined with artisan breads, cheeses and chocolates, as well as international street food. In March, the city’s annual food and wine festival is held, showcasing the region’s best international, experimental and traditional cuisine.
The Yarra Valley is an hour’s drive from Melbourne, and is renowned for its fine dining and premium wines. Visit one of the family-owned cellar doors to taste fruity chardonnays and superior pinot noirs, which can be paired with a two-course lunch or local cheeses.
Melbourne’s coffee scene
New South Wales
Sydney has outstanding restaurants with fresh seafood and Asian-fusion menus. Try the bonito sashimi at Plage, a raw seafood dish made from bonito, tuna’s smaller, seasonal relative. Cod’s Gift is one of the best places for sustainably caught local seafood. Trading since 1945, Sydney Fish Market is the third largest seafood market in the world, with over 500 species of seafood on sale. 13,500 tonnes of produce are traded annually and it is one of the best places to try fresh oysters.
Every Friday in Sydney, the Rocks have their ‘foodie market’ between Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Sample the Umai Sushi or the Sacred Seed Food Co for Greek flavours while watching street performances and admiring local artworks.
A couple of hour’s drive from Sydney is Hunter Valley, where you will find over 150 wineries and cellar doors. The area’s distinctive red clay soil and warm, humid climate produces excellent medium-bodied wines, most notably shiraz. Wake up to views across the vines and Brokenback Mountains at Spicers Vineyard Estate and taste the locally grown wines.
Oysters at Sydney Fish Market
The Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is the best place to try barramundi fish, a delicacy that is in season between March and November. In the aboriginal language, barramundi means ‘large-scaled river fish’, but they are also referred to as giant perch. Traditionally cooked skin-side first on hot coals, their large, firm flakes are sweet and buttery.
Darwin’s Sounds of Silence bush-tucker inspired buffet is a fantastic introduction to traditional culture and cuisine, comprised of native bush ingredients such as kangaroo and crocodile. More contemporary flavours can be found at Darwin’s seasonal Mindil Beach Sunset Market, open from the end of April to October. The market has more than 200 food and drink stalls with cuisine from around the world as well as shops selling local crafts.
Queensland is best known for its fruit and seafood. Walk through the orchards at Cape Trib Farm, where there are over 2,500 rare tropical fruits, including mango and pawpaw. Try real-fruit ice creams at Daintree Ice Cream Co, where cups are filled with four flavours of seasonal fruit ice cream made from their orchard. Then, learn about the history, process, roasting and health benefits of macadamias at Nutworks. The pontoons of the Great Barrier Reef will show the excellent fish produce, including Moreton Bay bugs – a flat, squat species of lobster whose meat is concentrated in the tail – and mud crabs.
Fresh water crayfish dish
Cox & Kings arranges escorted small group tours and tailor-made private travel throughout Australia. To visit many of the stunning sights described in this article, options include our Tastes of Southern Australia group tour, or the Culinary Delights of Australia private tour. Alternatively, please either call one of our specialist tour consultants or complete our tailor-made request form and one of our experts will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary. You can find out more about all our holidays to Australia here.