We will be open at 9:00 am. Call 020 7590 0610
Witchetty Grub

10 Iconic Australian Foods

unique flavours from Down Under

Article content

20 January 2020 by Emily Newton-Smith

From fresh calamari to love-it-or-hate-it Vegemite, Australia certainly has some unique culinary offerings. Of course, the best way to experience Australia's gastronomic delights is in person – perhaps on a food and wine tour of Tasmania, a gourmet getaway to the Margaret River, or a luxury train journey followed by a stay in the Barossa Valley. Along the way, there's plenty of opportunities to sample some classic Aussie grub. And, to get you in the mood, here's our top ten list of some of Australia's finest foods – just in time for Australia Day.

1. Barramundi

Dish of barramundi and vegetables

Barramundi means "large-scaled river fish" in native Aboriginal, and it features in restaurants all over the country. It's not necessarily a classic chip-shop fish though – it's often pan-fried or seared and served in fine dining establishments. Australia's Northern Territory is famous for wild barramundi, in season between March and November, and Central Queensland is also considered barramundi heartland. It's quite the Aussie experience to fish your own barra on the coast and head inland to cook it – many hotels and tour operators offer it as part of your holiday.

2. Vegemite

Vegemite spread onto toast

Vegemite – some people love it, a lot of people hate it, but it's undeniably Australian. If you've really never heard of it, it's basically Marmite for Aussies, a thick, dark brown spread made from leftover brewers' yeast extract and spices., and just as divisive. Just like peanut butter and jelly is a childhood staple in the United States, a Vegemite sandwich is a lunchbox must for an Australian kid. Although it's not gourmet, you'll often see upscale dishes inspired by the spread, including Vegemite curry and one cafe's "deconstructed" Vegemite on Toast.

3. Lamingtons

Plate of lamington cakes

Lamingtons are the perfect afternoon tea accompaniment, consisting of light sponge cake filled with jam and wrapped in chocolate and shredded coconut. The story goes that Lord Lamington, the governor of Queensland in 1901, employed a maid who accidentally dropped a sponge cake into some melted chocolate. Rather than waste it, Lord Lamington suggested covering it in coconut and the lamington was born. There's evidence to the contrary however – New Zealand scholars now claim that he stole the concept on a visit to Wellington in the 1890s. Origins aside, this remains an Aussie bakery stalwart.

4. Crocodile

Crocodile meat and garnish

Although it might seem strange to us in the UK, crocodile meat is a delicacy in Australia. It is surprisingly low in fat and high in protein, and since it's cooked in the same way as lean pork or chicken, it can be incorporated into a number of classic dishes. In the north of the country, especially the Northern Territory, crocodiles are everywhere, so it's quite common for people to cook it at home. And, particularly in the tourist hotspots, you can buy packs of crocodile jerky.

5. Barbecue

Australian barbecue

You can't go past the classic Aussie BBQ on a list of iconic foods, and it's true that barbecuing is a national pastime. From throwing some shrimps on the barbie to grilling a few "snags", it's ingrained in Australian culture. Outdoor barbecue stations are everywhere, from city gardens to national parks, and the menu includes everything from sausages to seafood, accompanied with copious amounts of tomato sauce – not to be confused with ketchup (yes, there's a difference). And, as a tourist, a cookout on an Australian beach is a rite of passage.

6. Anzac Biscuits

Plate of Anzac biscuits and oats

Anzac biscuits are so-called because of their connection to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in World War I. Their hardy ingredients supposedly made them well-suited for transportation to the soldiers on the front line, sent there by wives and women's groups – although it's more likely they were baked and sold at fundraisers back home. Regardless, around Anzac Day each year, a day of remembrance observed in Australia and New Zealand, Anzac biscuits can be found everywhere. And, these buttery, oaty cookies are simply delicious.

7. Tim Tams

Tim Tam chocolate biscuit on a plate

Tim Tams – not to be confused with wonderful Wexas travel specialist Tim Tan – are Australia's version of a Penguin (the biscuit, not the animal). Made by long-running Australian company Arnott's, a Tim Tam consists of two malted biscuits, separated by chocolate cream and coated in more chocolate. There are often limited edition flavours available, including red velvet, choc orange and peanut butter. If you're not a chocolate fan, these aren't for you, but Australians eat almost 50 million packets per year – they're enduringly popular.

8. Kangaroo

Dish of kangaroo meat and garnishes

While eating kangaroo would be unthinkable in the UK, estimates suggest there are more kangaroos in Australian than people, and they are farmed from their natural environment – unlike cows or sheep. Many Aussies consider consuming kangaroo meat more humane than eating more intensively farmed animals. Whether you're for or against it, kangaroo burgers and steaks are common across Australia, and, because it is exceptionally lean, organic, and very high in iron, is one of the healthiest red meats available.

9. Calamari

Plate of calamari and dip

Calamari, which refers to certain species of squid, has in recent years experienced a boom in Australia. Almost every restaurant now serves calamari – usually lightly fried and seasoned – as a starter or main course. Accompanied with aioli and a glass of white wine, it's a perfect lunchtime dish, and since worldwide, squid numbers seems to be increasing due to over-fishing of their predators, they're potentially a more sustainable choice.

10. Witchetty Grubs

Witchetty grub in Australian outback

Perhaps the most authentic Aussie delicacy of all – the witchetty grub. These nutty-flavored critters have been consumed by indigenous Australians for thousands of years. For travellers who want to immerse themselves in all things outback, dining on a bit of bush tucker – in the form of these raw grubs – is essential. However, the average Australian isn't chowing down on these every day.

As you'll have seen in the news, the bushfires currently affecting Australia have taken a devastating toll, not only on the lives and homes of local people but also the country’s wildlife. Current estimates suggest over 1 billion animals have lost their lives. The Wexas Travel Foundation is therefore raising funds for WIRES – the Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation, based in New South Wales. You can donate here.

It is important to note that much of Australia remains unaffected by the fires, and Tourism Australia has created this resource for prospective travellers. The best way to support Australia's recovery is to continue to travel to the country – our travel specialists are, as always, ready to help with extensive knowledge of your destination. So, if you'd like to taste Australia's iconic foods in person, there's everything from luxury rail journeys to dedicated food and wine experiences to immerse you in the land down under. Simply get in touch here.

Enquire Now

Related offers

Oyster Shucking at Saffire Freycinet, Coles Bay, Tasmania

Tasmania’s Food & Wine Trail

11-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,755 pp incl. flights

Tuck into the gourmet food and world-class wines of Australia’s island state. We've also included stays at some of Tasmania's finest hotels.

The Ghan

The Ghan Expedition: wilderness to wines

15-day tailor-made luxury rail journey from £5,865 pp incl. flights

Either side of this all-inclusive rail journey through the Outback, you’ll sample the wines of the Barossa Valley and enjoy a luxury safari in the wilds of Australia's Top End.

Vineyards, Margaret River

Perth, Margaret River & the West Coast

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,765 pp incl. flights

Spend time in Perth, enjoy a gourmet getaway in the Margaret River region and discover the spectacular scenery of Western Australia's southwest corner on this spectacular road trip.

Penguins, Victoria

Victoria’s Wine and Wildlife

7-day extension from £680 pp

A six night self-drive starting in Melbourne, shows you the very best of Victoria’s world-class wine and stunning wildlife.

Hunter Valley Vineyards, New South Wales, Australia

Hunter Valley By Train

3-day tailor-made itinerary from £270 pp

This 3-day rail and stay journey takes you into the Hunter Valley, one of Australia's best-known wine regions, for everything from vineyard tours to a unique wine theatre experience – the perfect add-on to any Australian vacation.

Uluru / Ayers Rock, Northern Territory, Australia

Sydney, Uluru & the Great Barrier Reef

15-day tailor-made holiday from £2,590 pp incl. flights

Discover the city sophistication of Sydney, the monolithic beauty and Aboriginal culture of Uluru and the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0610 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

Expert advice & support

Visit us in our London office

Let our travel specialists curate the perfect holiday:

  • Inspirational ideas based on experience
  • Established for over 50 years
  • Tailor a holiday to your precise requirements
  • Personalised quotes and documentation
  • In-depth Wexas travel guides

Every step of the way

Every step of the way

Our services are with you from start to finish:

  • Dedicated personal consultants
  • Wexas Travel App
  • Free airport lounges on qualifying bookings
  • Care and guidance pre, post and during holiday
  • Full financial security: ABTA & ATOL protected