Feast on this! Australia’s bucket-list food experiences
By Paul Chai
From market fresh produce to some of the world's most innovative fine dining, foodies have plenty to keep their palates busy in Australia.
This country has native ingredients not found anywhere else in the world and a constantly evolving food culture, taking the best international cuisines and giving them an Australian twist.
Looking to indulge on your next BIG4 break? Then delve into this collection of seriously tempting bucket-list Australian food experiences.
Savour a degustation at Attica, Melbourne, VIC
Ben Shewry is one of the most lauded chefs in Australia, thanks to his sophisticated but playful menus, which make use of unusual native ingredients and fresh local produce. A degustation at his Melbourne restaurant Attica offers a great insight into Australia's most cutting-edge cuisine trends. Plan well in advance.
Eat a mango with your hands, QLD
The start of the mango season signals summer in Australia, and enjoying these plump, sweet fruit as the weather warms up is an Australian rite of passage. Mangoes have become synonymous with Queensland where they're grown in large numbers, so there's no better place to eat one.
The best way to enjoy this tropical treasure is the deliciously messy, traditional way: by slicing the ‘cheeks’ off each side, picking them up with your hands, and eating the flesh inside.
Book now: BIG4 parks in QLD.
Go to Quay Restaurant, Sydney, NSW
Thanks to chef Peter Gilmore's intricately prepared and delicately balanced dishes, Quay has won more awards than any other restaurant in Australia.
It's one of two Australian restaurants on the prestigious S Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Located on Sydney's waterfront, with sweeping views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, this is a uniquely Australian dining experience with food and views that are both world class.
Book now: NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park.
Eat Australia's best pizza, Melbourne, VIC
The inner-city Melbourne neighbourhood of Carlton has a rich history of Italian immigration. It's in Carlton, in fact, that Australia's love affair with coffee began percolating, when first generation Italian-Australians moved here many decades ago.
Today, the area known as Little Italy plays host to a flourishing hub of excellent Italian-Australian restaurants, and the best of the best is arguably 400 Gradi.
"It's in Carlton, in fact, that Australia's love affair with coffee began percolating."
Owner Johnny Di Francesco is the former world's best pizza maker (currently ranked No.8), who made history as the first Australian to be accredited by the Naples Pizza Association, in a wonderful example of the fusion between Italian and Australian cultures and cuisines.
Order the Margherita. This simple cheese and tomato pizza is the same recipe that he used to win the world's best title, and it's exquisite.
Taste fresh local produce in TAS
Tasmania produces some of the freshest food in the world, including top-quality seafood plucked straight from the Southern Ocean, gorgeous raw milk cheeses from unspoiled Bruny Island, and crisp apples.
Franklin restaurant in Hobart – which has long been considered the best restaurant on the island – is on a mission to champion local produce. The seasonal menu changes regularly, but look out for fresh Tasmanian oysters, sea urchins or clams. You can also grab a drink in the adjoining bar.
"Tasmania produces some of the freshest food in the world, including top-quality seafood."
The fresh water, natural peats, and cool weather help make excellent Tasmanian whisky, which has been recognised by experts in Scotland as some of the best whisky in the world.
Book now: BIG4 Hobart Airport Tourist Park.
Go to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, WA
The Margaret River Gourmet Escape celebrates a region where Australia's surf culture and fine dining collide. Each year a roster of international chefs head to the world's only wine region with surf beaches on its doorstep to celebrate the fresh produce, iconic Australian wines, and the amazing seafood that the region produces.
Drawn by the waves, many of the area's most skilled chefs and winemakers are also keen surfers. They include White Elephant Beach Café chef Tony Howell, who uses the local seawater to brine his meat and boil his prawns.
Visit during the Gourmet Escape (November) and you will see why so many celebrity chefs consider this one of the most interesting and original foodie events on the calendar.
Book now: BIG4 Taunton Farm Margaret River.
Taste the Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, a 45min drive from Adelaide, contains some of the best wine, restaurants, and produce available at Australian cellar doors.
Learn about how the winemakers of the McLaren Vale region have adapted wine varieties such as shiraz and cabernet to Australian conditions, developing the area's distinct flavours in the process.
Drive to Willunga and visit boutique winemaker Hither & Yon or go to the cellar door of the long-established d'Arenberg. The Star of Greece restaurant offers unforgettable clifftop dining.
Eat bush tucker in Kakadu, NT
You can sample bush tucker that is only found in Australia's Top End on a one-day safari in Kakadu National Park with Animal Tracks.
Aboriginal guides will show you some of the amazing food that can be foraged from the outback, with flavours that your tastebuds have probably never known.
You will learn about traditional bush food such as buffalo and magpie geese, explore Kakadu, and finish with a traditional Aboriginal campfire and dinner.
Book now: BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park.
Eat on the sand at Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Darwin, NT
There is a laid-back charm to Darwin that you don’t find in most cities. Darwin is also one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, and its proximity to South-East Asia has had a huge influence on its food scene.
This mix of cultures and relaxed vibe is celebrated twice a week at the Mindil Beach Sunset Market from the last Thursday in April to the last Thursday in October.
You'll smell the amazing aromas before you see the stalls selling Thai, Indonesian, and Sri Lankan street food, which patrons then take down to the sand so they can watch the sun set over the Arafura Sea.
Book now: BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park.
Eat a meat pie at the MCG, VIC
There is no better way to understand Melbourne's obsession with sport – and in particular the game of Aussie rules – than joining the tens of thousands of fans at the MCG.
Every weekend in season the city centre is full of football fans heading to this hallowed ground, where a meat pie and tomato sauce is the traditional snack of choice. Simple, very Australian, piping hot, and eaten to the tune of thousands cheering their side on.
Sample our fastest-growing food hub, Brisbane, QLD
The rapidly growing Brisbane food scene has taken café staples, such as Bircher muesli and banana bread, and applied a fine dining finesse to create an original style of food that's spreading throughout the Queensland capital.
The team at Sourced Grocer was one of the first to do an upmarket take on café staples that seems perfectly matched to the laid-back nature of Brisbane, and now its new restaurant Gauge is winning a swag of awards.
"The rapidly growing Brisbane food scene has taken café staples ... and applied a fine dining finesse."
Try the brunch menu at Bare Bones Society for another example of high end café fare. This reinvention of favourites, coupled with a big increase in people relocating to this part of Australia, is fast turning the city into Australia's newest foodie destination.
Book now: BIG4 Sandstone Point Holiday Resort.
Drink coffee in Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne has turned coffee into an art form. Coffee professionals all over the city are experimenting with roasting techniques and brewing styles and Melbourne has attracted world champion baristas from elsewhere in Australia and overseas to make outstandingly good brews.
The coffee culture in Melbourne is constantly changing. There is always a new café, a new single-origin coffee, or a new technique to explore.
Dine alfresco around WA
There is nothing quite like eating produce just metres from where it grew wild, such as the shores of Bunker Bay, south of Perth. The pop-up diners at Fervor not only use native produce but set up alfresco diners in the West Australian countryside, where your ceiling is the stars.
Chef Paul Iskov might offer simply dressed local marron (a premium Australian speciality similar to lobster) on a stretch of secluded Margaret River beach or use fresh fruit from the native boab tree at an outback experience in Broome. Each meal celebrates ingredients in their natural environment.
Book now: BIG4 parks in WA.
What is your ultimate Australian food (or beverage) experience? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Isn’t it time you satisfied an appetite for a break? Book your next BIG4 escape now.
This article first appeared on Australia.com.