Trying local food is a big part of any holiday. Whether you’re new to Australia, you’re showing a friend round or you just want to expand your own horizons, Australia has plenty of unique food options to suit all tastes.
1. Chicken Parmigiana
This classic Aussie chicken dish – with roots in Italian-American cooking – is a staple offering on pretty much every pub menu in the country. Originally eggplant based (and these are still available for vegetarians), it has evolved into a chicken schnitzel topped with tomato sauce, melted cheese and, if you’re feeling fancy, prosciutto ham. This is typically served with salad and chips, although there’s a split between those who think the chips should be under the parmy and those who think they should be on the side.
2. Barbecued snags (aka sausages)
It’s no surprise that Aussies love to grill, and nothing is more important to a good barbie than a decent sausage – whether you’re at a mate’s place or at your local Bunnings for a sausage sizzle. Traditional Australian sausages are usually pork or beef, but if you’re feeling adventurous, there are other animals to sample. Wrap a slice of bread around your snag and top it off with some fried onions and your favourite sauce.
According to the Australian Meat Industry Council’s Sausage King competition, the best beef snags are found in Wollongong, and the best pork bangers come from Mawson, ACT.
Widely recognised as the ‘National Cake of Australia’ after the National Trust of Queensland voted this sweet treat an Australian icon, named as it was after Lord Lamington, a former Governor of Queensland.
The lamington is a modest square-shaped sponge dipped in chocolate and coated with desiccated coconut. Other variations include two layers and a cream or jam filling – seen by many as a vital addition. They go perfectly with a nice cup of bush tea, or maybe one of Melbourne’s world-famous coffees, and are available in all good bakeries and cafes.
Although the cake is thought to have been first served in Toowoomba, the national success has seen it take off in cities across Australia. Kytons Bakery in Adelaide is the current award holder for best lamington in Australia.
4. A burger with ‘the lot’
If tomato, lettuce, onions and a juicy meat patty just isn’t enough burger, then maybe you should try the Aussie gut-buster with ‘the lot’. Take a burger bun and stuff it with barbecued meat, salad, sauce and, for the Australian twist, add a slice of pineapple, some pickled beetroot and a fried egg. Perfect after a long day surfing or relaxing on the beach.
According to MTV, the best burger in Australia can be found at Burger Me Fresh in Coolangatta. It might be a long way to go for a meal, but people definitely travel with less incentive than this.
Both Australia and New Zealand lay claim to inventing this famous dessert, created in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova’s visit to Australasia in the 1920s. As a truly Australian after-dinner sweet, the pavlova’s crispy meringue crust, light fruit filling and whipped cream topping ensure it’s a family hit.
Australian claims to the dish lay in a recipe written by a Perth hotel owner in 1935, however recent research says that dish began life in Germany before evolving into its current form in the United States.
Regardless of where it was created, today’s Australian offerings are perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
6. Meat pies
You may think that a pie’s a pie, available in any flavour with any filling. However, a traditional Australian pie should be hand-sized, filled with mincemeat and gravy, and topped with tomato sauce. A gourmet version with mashed potato and mushy peas is also popular, but any other variant surely falls under a different category.
In 2019, the overall winner of the Great Aussie Pie Competition was the Pinjarra Balery in Pinjarra, WA.
Forget about fish and chips, feast on fresh Australian barramundi, a name which means ‘large-scaled river fish’ in the Aboriginal language in the Rockhampton area. Grilled, fried or seared skin-side first, it’s a much healthier alternative to battered fish, and a true Aussie meal.
Whether you catch your own or sit back and let someone else take care of the hard work, heading up to Queensland gets you some of the best fish in the country.
8. Vegemite on Toast
Not a particularly complicated dish, but still a much-loved serving, Vegemite on toast is great for breakfast, lunch or as an anytime snack. Similar to British Marmite, Vegemite is a vegetarian alternative made from yeast extract, and actually not vegetables.
To make your own Australian delicacy, toast two slices of bread, be liberal with the butter but frugal with the Vegemite. It’s not something you want to slap on like peanut butter or chocolate spread.
Vegemite, which was created by a Melbournian, is jammed full of vitamin B, which has loads of health benefits, including the belief that it helps keep mozzies at bay.
9. Pumpkin soup
Australian food isn’t all about grilled meats and seafood. There are a wide range of vegetarian dishes out there too, including a hearty bowl of pumpkin soup. Best served in the colder months, and easiest to find when you head south, there’s something incredibly satisfying about a bowl of pumpkin soup eaten by the fire. Add a Granny Smith apple, which were first grown just outside of Sydney, for an authentic Australian version.
10. Grilled kangaroo
Lean and tasty, kangaroo is one of the healthiest meats around, as well being a national icon. But you better like your steak blue, or at least rare as Kangaroo is notoriously difficult to cook and can dry out quite easily if left on the barbie too long.
Tastewise, this Australian food is closest to beef. However, kangaroo has more protein and iron than beef, and fewer calories and fat content. It’s also a good source of omega-3.
Another Aussie sweet to try is Cherry Ripe. Made by Cadbury, but only sold in Australia, this chocolate bar is similar to a Bounty Bar. It includes cherries mixed in with the coconut and is dipped in dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.