Gourmet Adventures in Australia

Keep on top of the latest taste trends by savouring the gastronomic delights of one of Australia's many food festivals.

Keep on top of the latest taste trends by savouring the gastronomic delights of one of Australia’s many food festivals.

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Superb weather, exquisite scenery and a rich and diverse culture are just a few of the factors that keep the flavours of Australia’s vibrant culinary scene so tantalising.

The vast, unspoilt landscapes of the country provide the perfect, fertile ground for growing an array of fresh produce, furnishing top notch eateries around the country with exquisite seasonal menus that reflect exactly what’s being harvested at the time. The country’s famous outdoor lifestyle also means that there are plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy an innovative plethora of flavours in an al fresco setting – often alongside a crisp glass of wine from the local vineyard.

Whether or not you consider yourself a die-hard foodie, Australia’s wide selection of food and drink festivals provide an excellent opportunity to savour the finest of the latest culinary trends. From the creative new savoury desserts taking the country by storm, to the traditional ‘barbie’, we’ve put together a selection of the country’s top gourmet festivals to get your fill of.

Innisfail’s Feast of the Senses

While Southern Australia springs to mind as the home of some of the country’s finest wine regions and craft food producers, Queensland also has plenty to offer. The state produces a phenomenal variety of freshly caught, seasoned, baked and grown goods, and there’s usually something coming up on the calendar to satisfy your taste buds. Innisfail’s Feast of the Senses extravaganza is probably one of the nation’s lesser-known food festivals, but what it lacks in fame it more than makes up for in flavour. Food stalls, gourmet dinners and culinary demonstrations comprise the backbone of this festival, and all of the events are infused with a tropical twist. An array of exotic fruits are showcased here, alongside everything from meat and seafood to herbs and spices. The diversity of the region’s many ethnic cultures also brings a wonderful fusion to the food served up at this event, which will run for a total of six days in late March 2017. Visitors will not only have the opportunity to visit local farms that aren’t usually open to the public, but will also be able to speak to regional producers to learn about the cultivation methods they use to produce their colourful crop.

Victoria’s High Country Harvest

Not only do Australia’s food fests pave the way for people to indulge in a multitude of tasty treats, but they also open the door for visitors to connect with the local community. There is a growing trend towards events that allow people to talk with producers and food makers, especially as we become increasingly interested in exactly where our sustenance is coming from. One such string of events is Victoria’s High Country Harvest, when long lunches at wineries, brunches at breweries and craft chocolate tea breaks become highlights of the social calendar. Victoria has a well-established reputation for its plethora of restaurants, wineries and craft beer breweries, and many put on special menus during the harvest period to showcase the very best of the fresh yield. Seasonal gems include foraged mushrooms, local cheese, game, apples and chocolate. Alongside winery tours and farmers markets, there’s also the chance to get your hands dirty with chocolate, honey and bread making classes at a variety of establishments.

Melbourne’s Food & Wine Festival

Widely-celebrated for its world-famous coffee shop culture, Melbourne also puts on a fabulous show of gastronomic delights during its annual food and wine festival, which takes place in March by putting on more than 300 foodie events right across the region. The event highlights the best food and drink from the whole of Victoria, with a number of pop-up attractions for visitors to enjoy. One of the signature events is the “World’s Longest Lunch” extravaganza, where world-class chefs put on three-course menus for guests to graze on while they sip one of the region’s locally-produced fine wines. This year, more than 20 “long lunches” took place across the state, at a multitude of delightful eateries. The three-day River Graze event features a selection of delightful pop-up restaurants and mini food festivals set along the banks of the Yarra River through the city. Many venues put on live music and even games next to their al fresco lounge-style dining areas.

The Taste of Tasmania

Once known as the home of the grizzly Tasmanian devil, the “Apple Isle” is now re-inventing itself as one of Australia’s premier gourmet destinations. A wealth of boutique wineries and distilleries comprise just a few of Tassie’s premier attractions, with cheese, bread, seafood, nuts and honey providing but a few of the produce highlights. The Taste of Tasmania, the island’s premier summer foodie event, boasts a stupendous programme of events and performances worked in around the food and beverage highlights, where seafood, cheese, berries, craft wines and beers can be found in abundance. The gourmet celebrations are centred around Hobart’s waterfront, and there are plenty of fun activities put on to entertain little ones as well at the “Kids in the Park” area. As the event falls over New Year (this year’s celebrations run through 28th December – 3rd January), visitors can also enjoy a spectacular fireworks display to see in 2017.

Narooma’s Oyster Festival

Australia lays claim to more than 25,000 kilometres of diverse coastline, so it hardly comes as a surprise that fresh seafood is often considered one of the country’s premium culinary delights. The catch of the day tends to be at its most diverse and plentiful during the summer months, but expect to find some form of seafood on the menu all year round. Australia’s love of the ocean’s fruits is made plain at its many dedicated seafood festivals, one of which is the Narooma Oyster Festival, 350 kilometres south of Sydney. Visitors can sample oysters from eight different south coast estuaries, alongside other culinary delights such as organic wine and dairy products. An oyster shucking competition forms one of the main highlights of the event, during which contestants attempt to topple the record that a local farmer set in 1984 when he managed to gobble 30 oysters in 2 minutes, 31 seconds. There’s also oyster shucking classes, a cruise to the oyster leases and fishing workshops for kids.

Top tips

  • Artisan beers and ales are one of the taste trends taking Australia by storm this year, and an authentic beer and cider festival provides a fine opportunity to sample the best of the tipples available. The Canberra Craft Beer & Cider Festival takes place in March every year, when over 80 manufacturers from all over Australia gather to showcase the very best of what they have to offer.
  • If you find yourself exploring the Northern Territory, the Darwin Beer Can Regatta represents a significant change of pace to most other food and beverage events across the country. Each July, this beer festival sees a multitude of four-man teams put boats made of beer cans to the test on the waters of Darwin harbour. Indeed, it is a sight to behold.
  • If you’re into your luxury produce, you will probably already be aware of the annual Truffle Kerfuffle event in Western Australia’s Southern Forest region. In addition to exhilarating live Perigord truffle hunts, visitors also have the chance to enjoy an exquisite array of truffle-infused meals.
  • Nothing goes so well with an indulgent, gastronomic feast than the finest of wines. Australia’s wine production industry is celebrated across the globe, and visitors are spoilt for choice by the sheer number of wineries and vineyard tours that they can book onto whilst exploring the country. West Australia’s Margaret River region produces an array of top-notch vinos, and the Leeuwin Estate is one of the best venues to get up close and personal with the foods and wines of the region. Summer concerts, fine wine dinners and even cooking classes are just a few of the events the estate organises on a regular basis.
  • If you have more of a sweet tooth, Latrobe’s Chocolate Winterfest in Tasmania is not to be missed. The event takes place just outside of Davenport, and lavishes chocoholics with the chance to eat, mould and decorate in chocolate.
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