10 food experiences you can’t miss in Australia
Image: Tourism Australia
Only an hour from happenin’ Hobart and easily accessible by car or ferry, Bruny Island’s food scene is next-level. It’s not only a gob-smackingly gorgeous place to go with its seal colonies and white wallabies – there’s more for sure. Think dripping oysters plucked mere moments ago from the sea, gourmet cheese tastings, sweet sopping honey made on the island and artisan chocolate with native fruits and berries. Enjoy a nip or two of hyper-local Hounds Tooth Whisky and Tassie-made wine and beers in between your expeditions to take in the stunning coastal views and lookouts.
Where to stay: YHA Hobart Central
Sydney, New South Wales
In this sparkling city of dining hedonism, why not upskill your barbeque technique? Enjoy the freshest seafood in Australia while visiting the world-renowned Sydney Fish Market. Enrol in one of the many specialty hands-on cooking experiences and nosh on five-star dishes that you’ll be able to create again and again once you’re home (the ultimate souvenir!). No worries if you don’t know your barramundi from a Blue Swimmer Crab – experts will walk you through every step of the process; from choosing your catch to preparing and cooking. The Seafood BBQ is the most popular class, though you can also choose from many others.
Image: Destination NSW
Byron Bay (Uki), New South Wales
Byron is a beachside beauty, but take the opportunity to see its wonderful surrounds, too! The whole Northern Rivers area is no slouch when it comes to perfect providores and all things gourmet. Just 36 scenic kilometres (but a world away) from Byron Bay proper, the little town of Uki (pronounced You-Kai) is a country treasure of world-heritage rainforest and fertile farmland. At Mavis’ Kitchen, tucked into the base of Wollumbin-Mt Warning, you'll feel like family as you enjoy the finest of sustainable suppers or let them arrange a picnic hamper for you and your favourite people. While away the day on the grounds with the sound of nature as your backdrop, or meander through the kitchen garden and taste and smell the ingredients in all their organic glory.
Darwin, Northern Territory
We almost can’t contain our excitement when it comes to Aboriginal Bush Traders – a not-for-profit that supports Indigenous communities through its trade of ethically sourced and sustainable goods, including art, beauty products, bush medicine and of course, food. Browse the gallery and have a yarn with the friendly staff and locals, but make it your mission to stop in at the cafe for its ever-changing menu featuring everything from damper with native jam to roo tail stew. Trust us, your tastebuds will be tickled.
Where to stay: YHA Darwin
Image: Tourism NT/Tourism Australia
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Get ready for a magical night under the stars with a guided astronomical experience like no other. Experience the desert at night as you enjoy bush tucker canapes and champagne while gazing over the ancient sand dunes. Your star guide will share the names and locations of constellations visible in the sky, as well as local lore and fascinating facts, and after dessert, you'll get to take a turn at the telescope in the Earth Sanctuary Observatory.
Where to stay: YHA Alice Springs
Perth, Western Australia
Bindjareb Park, just an hour south of Perth, is Indigenous-owned and will thrill you with its Six Seasons Dinner (check website for dates). This energetic city is quickly becoming a destination for those in the foodie-know. Past menus have included emu egg and spanner crab omelettes, kangaroo koftas and bush tucker spices to bring it all together. Learn more about the food on your plate and how the six seasons of the Nyoongar calendar determine what is served and when. Choose the two-hour Bindjareb Park Tour with food to sample spicy nut meat and other surprising delights, and on the way out, grab your own little magic to take home with you in the form of packaged native herbs and spices.
Where to stay: YHA Fremantle Prison
Image: Tourism and Events Queensland
If you’re able to splash out a bit, this one is a good choice for an upmarket foodie experience. Nestled right in the heart of Tropical North Queensland and perhaps best known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, Cairns is a true celebration of biodiversity. Here, you can try something quite different when it comes to cuisine. We like Ochre Restaurant for its selection of local Australian foods like salt and native pepper-basted crocodile and emu dumplings (paired well with a green ant gin and tonic).
BONUS: Alternatively, for a still-fantastic eating adventure at an economical price point, try Thai Foodies House in the Orchid Plaza Shopping Centre. It’s fresh, authentic, reflective of Australia's multicultural make-up and enjoys a bit of a cult following.
Where to stay: YHA Cairns Central
Don’t discount beautiful Brissy when it comes to epicurean excitement. It’s here in spades and a good place to get started is somewhere low-key and accessible... We all know a foodie loves their beer, so why not combine the two in a Brisbane Brewery Tour? Head to where the locals go and bliss out on only the best traditional pub fare while sampling independent craft brews while visiting several of Brisbane’s best inner-city venues. Crucially, you can sit back and leave the driving to someone else – it’s your job to enjoy!
Where to stay: YHA Brisbane City
Image: Tourism Australia
Adelaide, South Australia
With 70+ food stalls, producers and makers under one glorious roof, the Adelaide Central Markets have been an institution for over 150 years and are a paradise for all things fresh food. Come visit with an empty belly and an open mind as you peruse what's on offer: Native Australian produce like quandong, Kakadu plum, and Bunya nut sit alongside multicultural offerings from Italy to the Middle East. Street food is plentiful and provides an opportunity to sample the cuisines from areas of the world you’ve never been to. We suggest popping in for a day of slow grazing led by your eyes, nose and tastebuds, though tours are available to help you narrow your focus.
Where to stay: YHA Adelaide Central
Even in a city like Melbourne, with gourmet options on every corner, sometimes, you just can’t beat the good ole’ pub grub for a change of pace. At the Duke of Wellington, you can choose something a step above the standard schnitty fare, like pork and pistachio terrine or gourmet sausage rolls. While the original (1850!) facade remains outside, the interiors have been updated for a swanky look and feel, and the rooftop bar is one of the best places in the city for a splendid view. Get there early for sunset and stake your claim to the scene with one of the craft beers on tap or a bottle of delicious Aussie wine.
Where to stay: YHA Melbourne Central
Words: Ivy Carruth
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