From fresh-off-the-boat fish (in sunny Mooloolaba) to the world’s poshest sausage roll (thank you, Bennelong), we bring you true-blue food and drink experiences you must have – and not all of them involve eating!
Quay to the city
Peter Gilmore’s tasting menu at Sydney’s Quay dukes it out with the spectacular views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge for swoon-worthiness. Try to get a table in the tower so your view can’t be blocked by one of those pesky cruise ships.
Step back in time
Mainland Australia’s southernmost shop, Walkerville Kiosk, is as old-school as it gets. “Walkie’s” classic burger (hello, pineapple rings!) is best eaten right on the beach.
Sink your teeth into the Broome Mango Festival, held in late spring. Activities include cocktail demonstrations and cooking with mangoes.
After checking out the eclectic collection of works at the Museum of Old and New Art, followed by a drink at MONA’s nicely parochial Wine Bar, head to central Hobart’s Franklin bar and restaurant for a taste of Tassie terroir.
A cheeky hot toddy of apple cider at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston will kick Canberra’s winter chill to the kerb.
Escape to the country
The Art Deco-styled Radio Springs Hotel – in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Lyonville, central Victoria – is country hospitality tied up with good pub nosh, seven beers on tap, regional wines and live bluegrass music.
24-hour party souvlaki
Melbourne’s Greek heart is synonymous with Stalactites, a 38-year-old institution where the doors never close on their hangover-busting souvlaki.
Paddock to plate
Original hippie haven Byron Bay still flies the flag for holistic food. Five kilometres out of town is The Farm, a back-to-the-source working farm combining a bakery, happy livestock, permaculture workshops and a transplant of Sydney’s Three Blue Ducks restaurant.
Wheely good riesling
The Clare Valley’s Riesling Trail is 33 kilometres of picturesque decommissioned railway line between Auburn and Barinia. Hire a bike for a guilt-free way to enjoy the cellar doors of notable wineries such as Grosset, Jim Barry and Taylors.
Underground bean scene
Want a hidden gem? Cup of Truth is a hole-in-the-wall café tucked into the Melbourne underpass connecting Flinders Street Station with Degraves Street. The custom blend is by Axil Coffee Roasters and is truly good.
Sign up for a class in butchering lamb and beef, making sausages and more at Victor Churchill in Sydney’s Woollahra. It’s less of a butcher, more of a shrine to meat.
Fresh fish fried fast
For seafood direct from the trawlers – with chips, of course – go to the Sunshine Coast’s Mooloolaba Fish Market, right on the wharf where the boats dock. Or take your fish ’n’ chips to the nearby beach for extra salt.
The whole suckling pig at Melbourne’s venerable Flower Drum is a symphony of delicate meat and golden crackle. It demands a minimum of six people to do it justice – and two days’ notice.
Hit the Bussell Highway to Margaret River for more than 200 wine growers and producers from A to Z (or from Aravina to Xanadu, anyway). Best time to go? During the Margaret River Gourmet Escape festival held in November each year.
Try a Snakebite at Two Metre Tall in the Derwent Valley. It’s not as dangerous as it sounds – this combination of the brewery’s craft beer and cider was commissioned by Danish chef René Redzepi for his Noma pop-up in Sydney.
Enjoy a very leisurely dégustation at Dan Hunter’s magnificent Brae restaurant, including a mid-meal stroll through the gardens. The restaurant is about a 90-minute drive south-west from Melbourne’s CBD so if you want to make a weekend of it, book one of Brae’s newly opened guestrooms.
Snuffle for truffles – the black winter truffle, that is – at Manjimup’s Truffle & Wine Co. After the hunt, treat yourself to a truffle-infused lunch.
Stock up on all kinds of fresh produce and deli goods at Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets then head to the shores of Lake Burley Griffin for a gourmet picnic.
Just add ice
Does it get more idyllic than an afternoon gin and tonic at Icebergs Bar while overlooking the surfers and swimmers at Sydney’s Bondi Beach? No, it does not.
Pizza the action
Johnny Di Francesco’s margherita at 400 Gradi (Brunswick East, Southbank and Essendon) has been voted the best in the world.
The hottest chocolate
Just outside of Devonport in northern Tasmania’s Latrobe, the House of Anvers chocolate factory and café makes a hot chilli chocolate that’ll put hair on your chest.
Hit the family-owned, award-winning Milawa Cheese Company, in north-eastern Victoria’s stunning Milawa, for a tasting or cheesemaking class.
Dinner in the desert
Dine under the stars at the Tali Wiru “restaurant”, on an isolated desert dune with magnificent views of Uluru and the distant domes of Kata Tjuta. Champagne and canapés are followed by a four-course meal, with Indigenous stories and music woven into the evening. Visit ayersrockresort.com.au.
Back to school
SEE ALSO: Australia's Best Suburban Restaurants
From the 12-seater chef’s table at The Apollo in Sydney’s Potts Point you can badger head chef Jonathan Barthelmess about the secrets to his finger-lickin’ modern Greek food. Plus, you can pretend you’re a super-celeb by slipping in via the separate entrance.
Forage for native bush foods with Josh Whiteland, a Wardandi man whose people have lived around Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River in Western Australia’s South West, for 50,000 years. Visit koomaldreaming.com.au.
Chinese palace Golden Century Seafood Restaurant is where you’ll find the chefs of Sydney chowing down on pippies in XO sauce, Peking-style shredded beef and deep-fried salt and pepper mud crab after they’ve knocked off for the night.
Matso’s is a microbrewery with that laid-back Broome vibe. Pop by to try the mango, lychee, ginger or hotter-than-hot chilli beers.
Book it in
Spend an hour browsing at Scrumptious Reads, a dedicated culinary-book retailer in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, and grab a matcha mojito in its Sinmei Tea Room.
Try your hand at barramundi fishing or mud-crabbing in the Top End then feast on your catch for dinner at the Arnhemland Barramundi Lodge in Maningrida, where you can stay in the newly refurbished Safari Suites.
Flight of fancy
Take a chopper from Melbourne’s CBD to the Yarra Valley in time for breakfast at Chateau Yering, followed by a tour of the De Bortoli, Coldstream Hills and Tokar Estate wineries. Designated driver not required. Visit grapeescapetours.com.au.
Whether it’s a morning coffee or an evening cocktail at Eleven Rooftop Bar in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, it comes with spectacular free views of Brisbane’s CBD.
Go hunting for topnotch food and wine in the Hunter Valley. For starters, there’s fine-diner Muse, small-plates specialist EXP. and French provincial Bistro Molines, plus a dizzying array of cellar doors – including Brokenwood, Tyrrell’s, McLeish Estate and Piggs Peake. Go to winecountry.com.au.
Queen Maggie’s farm
Grab a picnic basket at the farm owned by the unofficial Queen of the Barossa, Maggie Beer – filled with paté, wood-fired bread, dukkah and fruit tarts – or watch a verjuice cooking demo.
Dine on contemporary Thai – such as red duck curry with snake beans, pineapple and lychees – at the Sunshine Coast’s Spirit House while watching water dragons in the lush tropical garden.
Tour the Haigh’s factory, home of Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate maker and close to Adelaide’s city centre. Chocolate frogs, anyone?
Love me tender
Stoke the flames of passion at Sydney’s Porteño, where whole pigs and lambs are roasted for eight hours over the wood-fired asador (Argentine barbecue pit) to meltingly tender perfection.
Eat the national coat of arms – otherwise known as an emu and kangaroo burger – at the Gold Coast hinterland shipping-container city known as NightQuarter. You can also choose from 59 other food outlets parading a multicultural feast, from tacos to schnitzel and Canadian poutine. Enjoy your food on the AstroTurf while listening to the live music.