Feast on this: Quirky Christmas Lunches Down Under

Lady exploring underwater equipped with diving gear

3.55min read

Published 1 December 2016


Christmas in the Antipodes challenges the Northern Hemisphere wintery traditions for many reasons – the most obvious, the weather. A full roast dinner in the middle of a 35-degree day is pleasurable for no-one, so all around this big island of ours, it is no wonder we opt for things like seafood along a breezy esplanade or an outdoor barbecue under a shady tree, or a cold meat and salad kind of fare down by the pool. We dwellers of the ‘Great Southern Land’ do like to break with tradition and shake things up a little, so we have dug around and found some things that are a little bit quirky, a little bit left of centre, and certainly a little bit iconic for each state and territory that show how some Australians choose to celebrate Santa’s special day, here in the land Down Under.

Crew dressed in holiday attire serves food to a group gathered under a tree
Fairytale setting for a Christmas lunch.

The Enchanted Fig Tree, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

The Enchanted Fig Tree, nestled in the dunes at remote Snellings Beach on Kangaroo Island’s north coast, takes guests into a fairytale restaurant setting under a 150-year-old fig tree to sample the very best of the island’s local produce. The team behind this unique dining experience - Rachel Hannaford and Sasha Sachs are very proud of the Fig Tree that is about 100 metres from the spectacular Snellings Beach. The tree itself is unique and seats 30 to 40 people under/in the tree, and there are five ‘rooms’, so people can come and have their private spaces among the leaves and boughs of the tree. From the outside of the tree you can’t see anyone in the tree – as it’s all under a great big, huge canopy. The Enchanted Fig Tree regular degustation lunch includes nine dishes over four courses, and this year there is a Christmas lunch menu offering traditional dishes with a twist and ingredients sourced locally.

Unique contemporary sculpture displayed outdoors
Man-made and natural sculptures blend for the perfect Christmas picnic setting.

National Gallery Sculpture Gardens, Canberra, ACT

For a growing number of Canberrians taking Christmas lunch to the outdoors to some of the national landmarks is a great way to celebrate the festivities in true Aussie style – and the beautiful surrounds of the National Gallery Sculpture Gardens are perfect for a Christmas lunch.Sculpture is often designed to occupy open areas, in civic squares and in gardens, or to decorate the facades of buildings or commemorate sacred sites. The grounds that lie between the National Gallery of Australia and the shores of Lake Burley Griffin were created to complement the building, and provide an “arty” outdoor space for your festive picnic.

Try taking celebrating the festive season under water.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Christmas Day in Cairns sees temperatures and humidity soar, making the reef the perfect destination for families to enjoy a Christmas Day Great Barrier Reef tour with a special Christmas Day menu and entertainment provided all out on the Reef. As part of the day’s activities, snorkellers get to enjoy plenty of the great reef tours that will be available on the day with the chance to see plenty of coral reefs and the mostly friendly residents.

Resort's outdoor pool with a view of the ocean
Enjoy Kimberley beef as part of your christmas fare in this pristine part of the world.

Ramada Eco Beach Resort, Eco Beach, Western Australia

Ramada Eco Beach Resort is a multi award-winning eco resort set in the pristine environs of the Kimberley – the least populated place on the planet. Just over an hour’s drive south of Broome, it is a resort that provides guests with an unforgettable and unique wilderness experience whilst having minimal impact on the surrounding landscape. The accommodation includes 25 Eco Villas connected by over 1km of elevated wooden boardwalks, and 30 luxurious safari style Eco Tents. In addition to this wonderful location experience, Ramada Eco Beach is offering a fantastic Christmas lunch menu that includes plenty of prawns and oysters and local Kimberley beef with a whole host of luscious of desserts.

Purple sky with stars and a mountain silhouette
Maybe Santa's sleigh can be seen as a twinkle in the Milky Way.

Ayers Rock Resort, Uluru, Northern Territory

A mainstay in the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, the Sounds of Silence dining experience is a must for your bucket list where you will get to dine under the sparkling outback sky with a back drop of one of Australia’s most famous of icons, Uluru – so why not add the additional bonus of making it a truly memorable Christmas dinner. Your Sounds of Silence experience begins with canapés and chilled sparkling wine served on a viewing platform overlooking the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. As the sunsets and darkness falls, listen to the sound of a didgeridoo and join your table of fellow travellers for an unforgettable Christmas dining experience.

Lemur standing on a wooden fence
Why not share your mince pie with this Melbourne Zoo resident?

Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne, Victoria

It is the season to eat, drink and be merry at Melbourne Zoo. So why not reach in to your Dr Doolittle side and take the opportunity to share a traditional Christmas three-course lunch, drinks and festivities in the company of family and friends, and of course the furry, fuzzy and feathered residents, who call Melbourne Zoo their home.

Blue ocean water complimenting Sydney's skyline
Have some secret Santa celebration on some of Sydney's secret beaches.

Sydney's Secret Beaches, Sydney, New South Wales

For the quintessential Aussie beach Christmas Day, whilst Bondi Beach is the most well-known seaside location associated with this day, Sydney boasts many quiet, secluded beaches sprinkled around the Harbour and along the coast that are the perfect spots to relax and unwind. So pack a Christams picnic and head off to discover your own secret beach hideaway, like Shelley Beach, Chinaman's Beach or Redleaf Beach to have your own perfect festive celebration.

Salamanca Place in Hobart mirrored in the urban river
Embrace history and fantastic Christmas food at Salamanca Place, Hobart.

Rockwall, Hobart, Tasmania

Rockwall offers visitors and Hobartians alike, the opportunity to view history from the inside. In the heart of Hobart's historical precinct, Salmanca Place sits Rockwall restaurant and Bar, which brings a modern dining experience into the cluster of National Trust classified buildings that are full of old-world charm and history is embedded in its sandstobe walls. The restaurant also does a fantastic Christmas menu that proudly showcases a wonderful array of local seafood and produce.

Images courtesy of Getty and Hannafod & Sachs.

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