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Discovering the Best Food in Australia's South

Lighthouse, Australia's South

Australia's South is full of the freshest, local dishes, bursting with flavour. From hotspots like Melbourne and Adelaide to Tasmania and Kangaroo Island, you’ll find standout regional cuisine to match the diverse landscape, finds Anna Pointer...

Local Food Traditions

Asher Blackford may be based in a secluded corner of South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, but he’s at the heart of a foodie revolution that’s sweeping the country’s southern states. “Generations of farmers and producers have passed down everything they know, so a huge amount of love and attention to detail goes into our cuisine,” says the chef, who heads up the kitchen at Southern Ocean Lodge, a luxurious retreat that embraces its wild coastal setting.

Southern Ocean Lodge

Southern Ocean Lodge

Local Ingredients in Victoria and Tasmania

South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania vary hugely in terms of geography and character – from SA’s rugged red Outback and world-class vineyards to Victoria’s wealth of coastal, cultural and wildlife experiences, and Tasmania’s vast wilderness and spectacular mountains – but each is a hotbed of exceptional provenance and culinary innovation. “We get beautiful seafood direct from the fishermen here – crayfish, abalone, snapper, salmon and kingfish,” says Asher. “It’s remote, so we do lots of pickling and fermenting, and make good use of local meat, plants and herbs.”

A cafe in Melbourne's Laneways

A cafe in Melbourne's Laneways

Taste Tours of Australia's South

For most visitors, Melbourne is the starting point for exploring Australia’s South, and the city’s eclectic culinary scene is a fabulous introduction to its fare. Get to know the locals’ Melbourne on a Hidden Secrets tour of the city’s unique laneways – a hive of creativity with amazing street art, a vibrant café culture and a host of rooftop bars and restaurants. For dinner, indulge at acclaimed Attica, which has a remarkable multi-course menu. Or for a more casual bite, try Fonda for delicious Mexican street food, from chargrilled corn to crispy prawn tacos.

Grampians National Park

Grampians National Park

Heading out of the city, the Great Ocean Road is your path to myriad gastro-tour delights. Stop for lunch with ocean views in the seaside towns of Anglesea or Lorne en route to Apollo Bay, then check into the award-winning Great Ocean Ecolodge, an eco retreat and wildlife-focused social enterprise. Join a guided walk at dusk to see kangaroos and koalas, and dine on the harvest from the thriving kitchen gardens.

Set out early for views of the majestic Twelve Apostles, minus the crowds, before cruising along the coastline to Port Fairy. Stay at the historic Merrijig Inn and get a seafood fix with finger-licking fish and chips from The Wharf, before venturing inland to Dunkeld, the southern gateway to Victoria’s magnificent Grampians National Park. The Royal Mail Hotel is ideal for resting up after a day discovering mountain lakes and leafy forests teeming with wildlife. It’s also a gourmet dining destination, with on-site restaurant Wickens offering a world-class wine list and multi-course menus laden with goodies from the hotel’s garden.

Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide Central Market

Ingredients Native to Australia's South

With its lively laneways and busy festival calendar, South Australia’s buzzing capital Adelaide might seem a world away, but homegrown food is revered here, too. At Restaurant Orana, chef and owner Jock Zonfrillo brings Indigenous flavours to the fore. His epic 20-course seasonal tasting menu includes the likes of green ants, lilly pilly berries and bunya – a nut reputedly eaten by dinosaurs. “There’s been a huge boom for native ingredients,” he says. “But it’s not a trend – a trend comes and goes, this has been around for millennia.”

Exploring little-known plants like the Geraldton wax inspires Scottish-born Jock every day. “When you put it on the fire, you smell lemongrass and kaffir lime.” His passion led him to establish The Orana Foundation, which is compiling a database of native Australian foods in order to preserve the unique Indigenous food culture. So far, some 1,500 ingredients have been documented – including vitamin C-packed Kakadu plums and karkalla, a plant that grows in the sand. “The goal is to bring awareness through gastronomy of the Indigenous people of Australia and how sophisticated their knowledge of this land is,” explains Jock.

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley

It’s from the vineyard city of Adelaide that you can hop across to Kangaroo Island – by scenic flight or ferry – or drive into the world-famous Barossa. Just an hour away, it’s another foodie haven, with dozens of wineries offering tastings and wine-making experiences. At the Seppeltsfield estate’s restaurant, Fino, renowned wines are paired with top-notch seasonal fare. “Fresh, simple, regional is the Fino ethos,” says co-owner Sharon Romeo, whose Italian heritage influences the menu. Popular dishes include a cassoulet crammed with local chicken, pork belly and sausage.

MONA

MONA

Fresh Produce in Tasmania

After tasting life in South Australia and Victoria, take a flight to Hobart, the compact capital city of Tasmania, an island state that’s rich in high-quality produce thanks to its cooler, temperate climate and lush wilderness. At Mona, Hobart’s esteemed Museum of Old and New Art, food is almost as important as the groundbreaking artwork. In its fine-dining restaurant, The Source, executive chef Vince Trim works tirelessly to push boundaries. “We use our imagination and find new ways of presenting food that can be delightful, confronting or confusing,” he says. On the menu you might find kingfish with gin, grapefruit and dill, or fried chicken with fermented cabbage and popcorn.

Launceston

Launceston

Over at the 150-acre Josef Chromy vineyard estate near Launceston, head chef Nick Raitt is also putting Tasmania on the food map. “For me, helping small farms establish themselves and target what to grow has been a real positive.” As a result, his menu is packed with organic veggies. “Impressive produce coming through recently includes wasabi, sweetcorn and asparagus.” Ultimately, like so many others working in cuisine in Australia’s South, Nick believes that food is the key to unlocking the character of this unique country.

Written by Flight Centre UK

At Flight Centre we are long-haul, tailor-made holiday specialists offering amazing travel experiences. Our lovely humans Travel Consultants have a real can-do attitude, and are passionate about sharing their stories and travel news with you on our blog!

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