The Best Food to Eat in Australia
Date 16 Oct 2021
Farm to table, paddock to plate – more than ever, consumers want to know where their food comes from. To mark World Food Day, we spotlight some of Australia’s tastiest ethical and sustainable dining experiences.
World Food Day (October 16) is a time to rethink our relationship with not only what we eat, but also its origins. How far did those fruits and vegetables travel to reach your plate? How were the animals raised? Is the kitchen team sustaining independent local makers, growers and producers? Does the meal reflect an emphasis on native ingredients that don’t require excessive farming?
More than ever, consumers want to have a connection to their food. They want to know the story behind the beekeeper, learn how the lilly pilly was foraged, meet the people who churn that award-winning Brie.
The team at Inspiring Journeys has been working hard to curate a little black book of foodie experiences across Australia, each of which delights our guests’ senses, and does so right at the source. We work with creative and colourful locals who have been growing berries, shucking oysters, pulling up carrots and encouraging sustainability for years. Sometimes generations.
Read on to discover experiences that spotlight Australian fare in its freshest, tastiest and most sustainable form.
Best food to eat in Uluru (and beyond)
Whether finger limes, saltbush or lemon myrtle, native Australian produce is fundamental to the country’s cuisine. There’s no denying the distinctive flavours. But on top of that, many native plants are packed with antioxidants.
Take the quandong, which has twice the vitamin C of an orange and has been shown to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Small wonder Indigenous communities have incorporated them into their diets for millennia.
Dining under the stars
The Northern Territory is the ultimate destination to get a taste for the variety of edible native plants Australia nurtures. If you’re looking for the best food to eat in Uluru, you can’t go past a meal under the stars at Tali Wiru.
This gastronomic journey begins with a didgeridoo performance and storytelling, before moving on to four courses that hero local produce. Think wallaby and quandong pie, seared scallops with desert lime, or toothfish with coastal greens and a desert oak vinaigrette. Perfectly paired with a green ant gin and tonic.
More dining under the stars awaits at Kings Canyon Resort, 300 kilometres north and backdropped by the end-of-the-Earth vistas of Kings Canyon, some 440 million years in the making. With minimal light pollution, you’re guaranteed a bedazzlement of stars overhead.
The only things distracting from the Milky Way are the pretty plates presented to diners. Menus change, but might include smoked and pulled kangaroo, wild barramundi or quandong cheese cake, with dishes crafted to highlight flavours that grow wild in this part of the country.
Experience this meal on the Inspiring Journeys Outback Contrasts itinerary.
Desert oaks tower all around when you arrive at Wanmarra, a tiny community of 10 people just 30 minutes away. This land holds immense spiritual importance to the Luritja and Pertame, and you’ll discover their Dreamtime stories while sampling native bush medicines as well as seasonal bush tucker – if you’re ever wanted to try a witchetty grub, this is your chance. Few experiences are as humbling or educational as this.
Visit Wanmarra on the Inspiring Journeys Northern Territory Dreaming itinerary.
The Top End is known for its blazing sunsets, perhaps nowhere more fiery than at Mindil Beach in Darwin. Grab a crocodile burger from the nightly markets, find a perch on the sand, and watch Mother Nature end the day in dazzling style.
Darwin is also the gateway to Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, where soaring cliffs glow in the changing light, and waterfalls tumble to swimming holes enveloped by forest. Arguably the best way to experience this dreamy ancient landscape is on a dinner cruise, sparkling wine in hand. Chefs prepare your meal while you glide; when it’s time to feast, courses might include croc soup and barbequed barramundi. They’re both plentiful, and sustainably sourced, in these parts.
Enjoy this cruise on the Inspiring Journeys Kakadu’s Ancient Secrets itinerary.
Best food to try in Tasmania
With arguably the cleanest air and water in the world, not to mention its fertile fields of rolling countryside, Tasmania is a pilgrimage destination among foodies. Naturally, things grow well here, whether grapes for cool-climate wines, crayfish and oysters, apples and veggies. And then there’s the cheese…
They’re all heroed at Van Bone, an intimate restaurant outside Hobart, set on a bucolic farm. The dining room here seats just 20, and the degustation menu is hyper-local – its expansive windows reveal the spot downhill where the oysters were harvested, the on-site gardens where fruit and vegetables grow, and the epic vineyards whence are sourced your meal’s paired wines. The chef even makes his own salt by dehydrating seawater overnight.
A similar sustainability ethos is nurtured at the pioneering Agrarian Kitchen. The establishment’s expansive farm sits in Lachlan, which is also the source of all the produce on your plate at the New Norfolk eatery.
The food is unpretentious, but delicious – it’s all about the ingredients. Sit down to housemade smoked sausage with green figs, perhaps, or green corn tostadas with salted fish. This is the ultimate in paddock-to-plate dining, leaving minimal footprint on the land.
Dine at the Agrarian Kitchen on the Inspiring Journeys Tastes of Tasmania itinerary.
The theme continues in the Bay of Fires, that east-coast haven featured on just about every Tassie postcard. This is a pocket of the state where immense orange boulders spill down to sand so white, and to ocean so blindingly turquoise, that you’ll think someone has taken the glasses off your nose and cleaned them for the first time.
When you’re not pinching yourself, bed down in one of the cosy bell tents at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat. Days here end with local pinot noir and an extremely memorable meal. Like most chefs of Tasmanian ilk, yours has a penchant for regional produce: sustainably caught seafood, foraged herbs, cheese from a boutique maker up the road.
Keeping it local
Between here and Launceston lie a cornucopia of culinary treats. At Binalong Bay are some of the creamiest oysters you’ll ever slurp. Arriving at Pyengana Dairy Farm Gate, you can watch cheesemongers at work and taste the fromage with a glass of wine. At 41 Degrees South Salmon Farm, freshly smoked Tassie salmon awaits.
And then it’s time for a sweet treat or two at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm. The café’s savoury fare is seasonal and local. Then dessert: raspberry pancakes, waffles, cheesecake, ice-cream, crepes and sundaes… the muffins are even served with raspberry butter. Visiting small (often family run) purveyors like these helps ensures their operation for generations to come.
Stay at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat and sample all this produce on the Inspiring Journeys Tastes of Tasmania itinerary.
Best food to try in Sydney
Australia’s largest city is also its most multicultural. For gourmands, this equates to a globetrotting parade of cuisines and experiences when it comes to eating out, from food trucks to fine dining, Mexican to mod-Aus.
Chef Peter Gilmore’s food occupies the latter category, his Quay restaurant – overlooking the Opera House and Harbour Bridge – among the most applauded in the city. Peter’s plates of food are jaw-droppingly pretty, but it’s his philosophy toward working with small, artisanal suppliers that makes his food so special. Some even grow specialty fruits and vegetables just for his kitchen team.
Urban farm to table
Remarkably, given the urban density of Sydney, a number of the city’s restaurants host their own gardens and farms. Chefs at Chiswick begin their cooking day in the garden picking seasonal herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. An on-site apiary dispenses fresh honey.
The meat served up comes from owner, Matt Moran’s, farm in regional NSW. Matt’s a firm advocate of connecting diners to their food, helping educate on where produce comes from, and how it got to the plate.
It’s a similar story at Acre Artarmon, the dining room occupying a light and breezy space resembling a greenhouse. The setting sets the tone for your dining experience: indoor and outdoor gardens (including hydroponics and vertical gardens) growing everything from fruits to herbs and vegetables.
Chefs demonstrations and meet-the-maker tastings allow you to get hands on and learn just how your meal came to fruition. Order the Garden Bowl – everything comes from your immediate surrounds.
Arguably Australia’s most lauded purveyors of farm-to-table dining are the team behind Three Blue Ducks. They have two outlets in Sydney (in Bronte and Rosebery), and others around NSW, VIC and QLD.
Theirs is a simple, yet delicious, concept: develop a more sustainable approach to eating and living, creating food that is tasty and ethical. “We encourage you to grow what you can, buy food mindfully, buy it locally, cook it thoughtfully and waste nothing when you can,” they say.
Speaking of wasting nothing, Re- is the first permanent zero-waste bar in the world. Ethical consumption is the word here, from the décor comprised of recycled and reclaimed materials, to the use of ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables in cocktails and snacks. Only a single waste bin is used on an average day.
Book the Inspiring Australia tour and spend Sydney downtime eating your way around top restaurants.