Australia’s trendiest food and drink experiences

From foraging for your own dinner to reviving ancient winemaking techniques, 2020 is all about taking food and drink back to its roots.

Unpretentious, authentic and pared back – the latest trends on the Australian culinary scene can just as easily be used to describe the passionate Aussies that are leading the charge. Get a glimpse into how Australia is looking to the past for the latest trends.

Foraging for your own dinner

Enjoy seafood straight from the water

In Tasmania, jump on board with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys for their Seafood Seduction Tour. You’ll shuck oysters straight from the sea and cheer on your guide as he dives for abalone and sea urchin. Back on board, you’ll enjoy an incredible seafood feast with the fruits of your morning gatherings. Rock lobster, abalone, sea urchin, mussels, oysters, sashimi, salmon – all paired with a gourmet spread of fresh local bread, salads and artisan cheeses, and matched with premium local wines.

In Coffin Bay, in South Australia’s Eyre PeninsulaOyster Farm Tours will take you wading out into the crystal blue waters for a hands-on shucking lesson and taste of fresh Pacific and native Angasi oysters straight from the clear, rippling waters.

Harvest native ingredients

Winter in Australia is truffle season and the climatic conditions near Canberra and in the Margaret River region are ideal for growing the prized black Perigord truffle. Be led by highly trained truffle dogs through a forest of trees in search of the “black diamonds”. After you find the perfect truffle, settle in for a delicious lunch that showcases the delicacy. Tours and degustations are available at the Truffle Farm in Canberra and the Truffle and Wine Co. in Manjimup from June to August.

City distilleries

The Australian spin on gin

Sydney started it all with the opening of Archie Rose Distillery, which was shortly followed by a spattering of others taking their own spin on spirits. Poor Toms Gin Hall is the quintessential experimental hipster outfit, and if you prefer rum over gin, you’ll find that in Sydney, too. Brix Distillers in Surry Hills creates spiced rums just minutes from the city centre.

Little Lon Distilling Co., housed in Melbourne centre’s last remaining single-story house, makes small-batch gins that raise a tipple to the delightful deviants who once trod the lurid laneways of the city’s north-east corner. Brogan’s Way, in the suburb of Richmond, is proudly led by a female master distiller who got her start as a medical laboratory scientist. Using Australian botanicals, the gins created here are designed to challenge the conventional ideas of what gin should be like.

Whisky in the city

Australia hasn’t always been known as a whisky-making destination, but top-notch Australian producers are changing the country’s reputation. Manly Spirits Co. creates botanical vodka and whisky blends inspired by its beach location in Sydney. Melbourne’s Starward led the way in Victoria with its approachable take on a modern Australian whisky, matured for three years in red wine barrels; the result is distinctly Australian – whether served neat or in a cocktail.

In Perth, be sure to visit Whipper Snapper Distillery to taste their handcrafted range of premium whiskies. They use 100 per cent local grains, showcasing their commitment to provenance. The team started with the production of moonshine and have since expanded their range to include traditional moonshine, barrel-aged moonshine and a bourbon-style whisky.

A shift to sustainability

Pasture-to-plate eateries

In Sydney, try St Peter for sustainable seafood served simply and beautifully, while Acre Eatery is a farm-to-table restaurant located just minutes from the city centre. Acre operates on an ethos of transparency, seasonality and traceability. Suppliers are local farmers and producers, and the menu is designed around what’s in season, meaning you’ll be served beautiful food that hasn’t travelled far to reach your plate.

Just an hour from Melbourne, in the picturesque wine country of the Yarra Valley, you’ll find Oakridge Restaurant, where Co-Executive Chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett construct their seasonal menus based on the thriving ingredients in the Oakridge Kitchen garden, as well as wild produce they discover on foraging and fishing excursions around the region. Taste wines at the cellar door before settling in for a delicious long lunch.

Set on an 80-acre farm in Byron Bay, the team behind Three Blue Ducks create every dish with a goal to nourish the community with ethical, authentic, quality food and hospitality. Many of their ingredients come from The Farm, while others are sourced locally, always with a preference for sustainable farming practices, organic and spray-free. The food is hearty and full of flavour and the venue is laid-back. Book a table in the restaurant or bring a picnic blanket and purchase a hamper filled with meats, cheeses, dips, bread and other goodies to enjoy in the gorgeous fields of The Farm.

Eco-conscious brewing

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has recently been thrust into the foodie spotlight with a range of exciting restaurants and craft breweries popping up, many of which were showcased at the region’s inaugural food festival, The Curated Plate. Brouhaha Brewery, located in the rich produce hub of the hinterland, is focused on keeping their practices as sustainable as possible. After brewing, grain by-products are sent to feed Maleny Wagyu cows, which are then hand-selected for the Brouhaha kitchen (with offcuts even going to create a Brouhaha dog food). A local butcher also flavours Maleny Wagyu with Brouhaha Stout to make sausages.

With regions rich in flavoursome native ingredients, producers in Australia are crafting alcohol that tastes of the Australian landscape.

Orange is the new red (wine)

Orange, or amber, wines represent the resurgence of ancient winemaking techniques and lost skills that have been rediscovered by today’s winemakers. With its pastel shade, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a rosé. It couldn’t be more different. In simple terms, orange wines are white wines that have been made using the same processes as reds – with extended skin contact. This results in a full-body, intense flavour that more closely resembles a red wine than a white. This makes them ideal for food pairings, and the novelty is taking the wine-drinking world by storm.

They’re generally made on a small scale, so head to Australia’s wine regions and seek out small cellar doors to taste some of these unique drops or quietly pass an afternoon in one of the hip city wine bars specialising in boutique wines.

If you’re in Sydney, book in for a degustation dinner at Ester where you can match their fantastic menu to one of up to 15 orange wines featured on their rotating list. 

Marion, in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, offers an extensive wine list, including some exciting Australian amber wines that pair up nicely with the venue’s ever-changing menu, while The Moon in Collingwood will require a sense of adventure, but the wine list and bar snacks promise to please.

In Adelaide, head to Leigh Street’s Pink Moon Saloon. With an exterior somewhat reminiscent of a Swedish sauna, the interior is just 3.6 metres (just under 12 feet) wide and divided into three spaces. Settle in at the front bar to experience what’s on offer from Australia’s winemakers, including a great selection of orange and amber wines.

Sleeping between the vines

While Australia’s wine regions are blessed with beautiful hotels and bed and breakfasts that allow you to spend a few nights in total luxury, the latest trend in accommodation is luxe glamping tents tucked right in the vines. Just under a four-hour drive west of Sydney is the wine region of Orange, where you’ll find cool-climate wines, fresh produce and clean mountain air. Stay at Nashdale Lane to wake up to misty views of Mount Canobolas before a day out wine tasting.

At Sanctuary by Sirromet you can stay amidst the grounds of Sirromet Winery just 30 minutes from Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane, while a three-hour drive south of Perth in Western Australia you’ll find the Margaret River region. This premium wine region offers more than its fair share of great cellar doors to visit, so opt for something a bit different with a stay among the olive groves at Olio Bello

Near Bendigo, just an hour north of Melbourne, you can settle into Balgownie Estate to stay in one of their luxury glamping tents with private decks that offer views of the vineyards or bushlands. They offer bell tents as well as luxe, open-plan safari tents with all the modern conveniences.