The Best Gourmet Travel Experiences in Australia

Rodney Dunn leads a garden tour at The Agrarian Kitchen, near Hobart

Culinary adventure isn’t all about restaurants. These gourmet travel experiences take you far beyond the plate.

When you board one of Kiff & Culture’s food-focused helicopter tours, you might not know what culinary curiosities await. The Queensland-based company’s Dine With a MasterChef itinerary begins in Brisbane (or the Gold Coast) and soars across the Scenic Rim, with chef and host Tessa Boersma tailoring each stop to your tastes and the season.

“She’ll take you to some of her favourite farms, grab some produce, maybe stop at a winery,” says director Drew Campbell. Afterwards, you’ll land at Verandah House Country Estate on top of Tamborine Mountain so Boersma can cook for you, perhaps using artichokes or sweet potatoes from local organic supplier The Nosey Gnome paired with wines from Witches Falls. “There’s an alfresco dining area set up with cheese and wine then Tessa cooks up a beautiful three-course meal,” says Campbell. “Later, you can get a massage or have a sauna or sink into the hot tub.”

Chef-led dining adventures, winery tours, cooking classes, foraging expeditions and food festivals are more than just things to do on holiday. They’re a way to connect with the people and cuisines that give a place its character – and they’re a huge trend in travel, with the global food tourism market predicted to be worth as much as $2.8 billion by 2027.

At The Agrarian Kitchen in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley, co-owner Rodney Dunn looks for fresh ways to showcase the restaurant’s bountiful half-hectare kitchen garden. One new concept sees diners enjoy snacks or a small first course in a courtyard that overlooks the garden, to give them a sense of where the dishes come from. “They can bliss out and watch the butterflies then go inside and continue the rest of their meal in the restaurant,” says Dunn.

Alternatively, you can book into a cooking class that interprets the property’s produce through an outsider’s eyes. This year, chefs Lennox Hastie, Andrew McConnell, Belinda Jeffrey and Peter Gilmore have all been called up to raid the orchards and veggie rows as part of these hands-on sessions. “It’s really about us saying to those chefs, ‘Here’s your palette – create,’” says Dunn.

The best food tourism offerings are as much about where you are as what you eat and drink. Tweed Eco Cruises in northern NSW has a new Ales and Sails itinerary that offers the best of both: a deep dive into the craft beers of Tweed hinterland brewery Earth Beer Company (the seasonal Avocado Kolsch is a must-try) and a return boat trip that highlights some of the prettiest parts of the coast, including – on a lucky day – a dolphin encounter. The tour features live music; an on-board bar stocked with local spirits from Husk, Brookie’s, Lord Byron and others; and two lazy hours of sailing. A day on the water with artisanal drinks? Not a bad way to get to know another corner of Australia.

Other delicious ways to enjoy a gourmet getaway

NSW

Cook Lebanese classics

Karima Hazim (second from right) at a Sunday Kitchen class in Sydney

Mother-and-daughter team Sivine Tabbouch and Karima Hazim welcome you to Sunday Kitchen in a warehouse in Sydney’s Rosebery. Spend a morning learning how to make generous platters of Lebanese favourites, such as pistachio-filled maamoul, fattoush or homemade shanklish cheese.

Join a truffle hunt

Sarge the kelpie and Scout the border collie are your canine guides on this fresh-air-filled truffle hunt at RedGround near Oberon in the NSW Central West. The experience begins with a snack of brie baked with rich truffle before moving to the truffière to dig for black diamonds. Afterwards, learn how to weigh and grade your finds before the eating continues: dips, panna cotta and ice-cream all created with the earthy treasures.

Discover First Nations foods

Led by First Nations mother-anddaughter duo Janelle Randall-Court and Kirra Court, the four-hour Bush Foods Lunch & Cooking Lesson by Splendour Tailored Tours takes place in Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The adventure begins with an Acknowledgement of Country, followed by foraging, a cooking lesson over an open fire and a gourmet picnic lunch.

SA

Dine in the wild

Kane Pollard (centre) hosts a Place dining event

Chef Kane Pollard, from Adelaide’s Topiary restaurant, has always been passionate about provenance. Now he’s created Place, concocting spectacular, one-off meals enjoyed on the land; perhaps in a pine forest or a flower-filled meadow in the Adelaide Hills. The food always follows Pollard’s principles of local and seasonal so you can expect courses enriched with pine needles or lavender, depending on the location.

VIC

Take a mussel tour

For too long, mussels have been overshadowed by their sexier bivalve brethren, oysters. Portlington Mussel Tours on the Bellarine Peninsula puts them rightfully in the spotlight. The boat trip (for a maximum of 12 guests) is led by mussel farmer Lance Wiffen, with cooking demos and tastings, local produce platters and Bellarine wines and beers.

QLD

Learn from top chefs

Cooking classes generally work in two ways: you can sit and watch as a chef demonstrates how to make dishes or roll your sleeves up and join in. At the sleek Chef’s Kitchen school inside Peter Kuravita’s Alba complex in Noosa Heads, you’re free to do either. Classes, including a popular Sri Lankan curry lesson, are led by Kuravita himself or by a rotation of guest chefs.

NT

Feast in the outback

Winemaker Tim Shand at Bullo River Station

Join Tim Shand, chief winemaker at Voyager Estate, on a three-night Wild Wine Escape at the luxurious, remote outback property Bullo River Station in August. There’ll be a series of tastings and workshops, several wine-matched dégustations under the stars, plus a barbecue lunch and dip in the Marlee’s Bath waterhole. A scenic flight to take in the complete sunburnt beauty of this working cattle station is a highlight.

WA

Wander through a wine region

It’s not hard to find amazing food and wine activities in Margaret River but it’s another thing entirely to see the area through the eyes of a local. Walk Talk Taste runs a four-hour Brunch-to-Lunch walking tour that includes a riverside coffee, lunch at a restored heritage village, generous spreads of smallgoods, honey and fig products, cheese from Charcuterie Margaret River and wines from La Kooki.

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SEE ALSO: These Incredible Restaurants and Bars Have Australia’s Best Wine Lists

Image credit: Dearna Bond, Luisa Brimble, Elise Hassey, DuyDash

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