A Foodie’s Guide to Australia

22 October 2013
Read Time: 3.4 mins

So you want to treat your tastebuds to a holiday? First things first, put down that passport and step away from the phrasebook. You don't have to venture to the piazzas of Italy or biergartens of Germany for an epicurean adventure when there's plenty to savour in your own backyard. The flavours in this wide brown land are anything but bland thanks to melting pot of cultures that call Australia home, with a melange of specialities both true-blue and borrowed that make culinary tourism big business.

Are you a fan of the classic lamington, or is a lamington macaroon more your style? Either way, Australia's collective broad palate is no stranger to both the weird and wonderful and tried and tested favourites, both of which could easily describe Vegemite. Whatever you think "Modern Australian" dining means, prepare to be deliciously surprised as you embark on your food holidays, venturing from haute hatted restaurants to the rural reaches of farm gates. Not only do we have boundless plains to share, but an abounding amount of nosh too!

 

Queensland

 Eumundi Markets. Image courtesy of Queensland Tourism.

Food and travel is a winning combination for every holiday appetite. Ah, the Sunshine State – where the weather is warm and the barbecues are always ablaze. The state's capital Brisbane is making itself known to gourmands and gourmets everywhere, with food media doing a roaring trade thanks to new eateries opening by the day, many of which have tapped into niche trends such as "caveman diets" and grocer-cum-cafe establishments. From Brisbane and beyond, agriculture is still big business in Queensland, with cattle and fruit farming dominating much of the central and northern part of the state. If you find yourself in tropical Cairns, good luck ordering a burger without beetroot and pineapple!

New South Wales

 The Oyster Bar, Sydney. Image courtesy of Destination NSW, James Horan.

New South Wales may be just beyond the border of Queensland, but as the climate drops the foodscape changes dramatically. You can't go past Sydney for endless choices of awarded restaurants and outer-reaches oozing the aromas of Asia and the Middle East. New South Wales is also the backdrop of one of the country's most lauded wine regions, the Hunter Valley, where innovative growers and industry stalwarts work side by side to produce quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy a little European ambience as you swirl, sniff and sip, with a side serve of locally produced cheese, bread and smokehouse delicacies.

Victoria

 Couple eating at Republica, St Kilda. Image courtesy of Tourism Victoria. Photographer Greg Elms.

Speaking of wineries, Victoria knows its stuff when it comes to a top-notch tipple. The Yarra Valley just at Melbourne's doorstep is the crux of Victorian viticulture and focus of dozens of food tours, with around 70 cool-climate wineries operating under lauded labels like De Bortoli, Domaine Chandon and Yering Station. Diverting back to the cosmopolitan state capital of Melbourne for a moment, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better spot for people-watching over a quality coffee than Melbourne CBD. No need for Google Maps when wandering through Melbourne's laneways – let the aromas guide you around every corner and you will inevitably end up at the perfect breakfast spot or late-night hangout.

Tasmania

 Jansz Tasmania. Image courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Tamar Valley Wine Route.

Tassie's isolation means it can often be overlooked by the average holidaymaker, but those who tend to follow their stomachs rather than their minds know better. Favourite food travel fodder for the "real" foodie, the Apple Isle has long bucked the trend for mindful eating and a love of the local. Just meander through Hobart's Salamanca Market and see it for yourself – shiny red apple slices atop fluffy crepes, polished bottles of vino straight from the Tamar Valley, etc. Narrowing the landmass even smaller still, offshore King Island is a perfect side trip if you're looking for a dreamy, creamy brie or sharp blue cheese to go with that Tamar drop.

South Australia

 Charles Melton Wines, Tanunda. Image courtesy of SATC.

Hopping back onto the mainland once again we come to South Australia. Somewhat overshadowed by the sheer scope of the west, the outback enchantment of the north and the metropolitan trappings of the east, South Australia is an unexpected sensory delight. From casual cafes pinpointed on the grid of Adelaide city to the country charms of the Adelaide Hills, there are plenty of foodie finds if you're willing to hit the open road. Along the way, make sure you call in on the Barossa to sample their world-class reds and McLaren Vale for a hand-pressed cider before a schnitzel-laden luncheon in Hahndorf.

Western Australia

 Enjoy a Meal Overlooking Cable Beach

It may seem a world away from the east coast capitals, but Western Australia is well worth the journey if you're up for a food-focussed voyage off the beaten track. Let your introduction to the Wild West begin in Perth, which is sure to show you a good time when the sun goes down – you won't have to look far to find a boutique bars in the laidback capital city. If you're heading south, make Margaret River your destination for surfing and/or sampling region's awarded Cabernet blends. If it's the north that beckons, bring your appetite to Broome for a seafood feast with a sunset view.

Northern Territory

 Madigan's Function Room, Alice Springs Desert Park. Image courtesy of Tourism NT.

The Northern Territory manages to find its way onto travel bucket lists of visitors both at home and abroad. Capital Darwin is renowned for its Asian persuasion with markets and restaurants boasting menus as exotic as they come, while still retaining its cool character in the face of startling humidity. Intrepid epicurean explorers who decide to journey into the heart of the Red Centre will be awarded in spades, served up signature Alice Springs "bush tucker" including seasonal flora and iconic fauna like kangaroo, emu and crocodile. Cap off your Northern Territory taste trek with a barbecue beneath the stars as Uluru looms large on the horizon.

Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg