The Land Down Under is famous for its top notch wine, and fresh gourmet. Tourists from around the world visit Australia to taste what the country has to offer. Food lovers, wine enthusiasts, and adventurous travellers will have an awesome time. Visit interesting places, celebrate wine festivals, or go on a food tour around the country. Do whatever tickles your fancy and let Australia surprise you.
To help you start your adventure, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide on Australia’s popular food and wine festivals.
Australia: A Melting Pot of Faith, Festivals, and Food
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are over 23 million people living in the country. Since 1945, migrants have flocked to Australia. More than 40% of the population has a mixed cultural origin. You can see this diversity in Australia’s cuisine, which includes some of the world’s most delicious dishes. Whether you like Asian spices, European flavours, African delicacies, or Mediterranean dishes, you’ll find something great to eat around the country. Enjoy a romantic Italian dinner with your loved one in a quaint Italian restaurant. Have a glass of sangria and some tapas in a Spanish strip. Share a bowl of authentic noodles or dumplings with your family in Chinatown. Bring some Thai takeaway on your tour around major cities.
The best thing about all these is that you can experience the best of Australia through the country’s different food and wine festival.
Food and Wine Festival Overview
Yearly wine festivities commemorate viticulture and often occur between September and October, after the grape harvest season. Australia, Germany, Hungary, and Italy are some of the countries with the biggest wine festivals. According to studies, Egypt is one of the first countries to cultivate wine. From there, wine cultivation spread to Etruria, Greece, Israel, Rome, Turkey and the rest of the world. Wine festivals include a showcase of a region’s best food and greatest music.
Almost every city in Australia has an annual food and wine festival. Some tourists schedule their tours according to the festivals they’d like to experience in the country. Others attend festivals that highlight their favourite food or wine. For instance, some take a trip to the Land Down Under for the Great Barrier Feast. This festival displays the country’s freshest seafood.
Festivale of Launceston, Tasmania
Tasmania is famous for its high quality beers, cool climate wines, and fresh produce. Festivale is a yearly event held in February. To give guests a one-of-a-kind experience, organizers pick Launceston’s charming, and historic city park as the venue for the event. This event attracts over 40,000 visitors to Tasmania. Guests will have the chance to taste the best of Tasmania’s wine and gourmet food through over 65 stalls. Bring the whole family to experience world-class entertainment, street theatre, music, and dance. Enjoy watching interstate and local artists perform in the event and discover Australia’s breed of talents.
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
This event is the biggest and most popular food and wine festival in Australia. Wine and food lovers from all over the world participate in this festival. For 20 days, guests will be busy attending over 300 wonderful events. Melbourne’s finest restaurants, rooftop venues, basements, and laneways open their doors and participate in the festival. This is the perfect time to try Australia’s seasonal produce, visit lively food markets, and meet innovative chefs. Celebrities and popular personalities in the culinary and wine industry attend this annual event. Melbourne Food and Wine Festival also honours the region’s celebrated artisans, chefs, producers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and winemakers.
Aussie Wine Month
Wine Australia spearheads this festival, which includes about 100 events of celebrations, promotions, and tasting the world’s best wines. The event brings winemakers and lovers together to promote value, diversity, and quality of Australian wine. This is a great opportunity for tourists and guests to try the country’s finest wines. Whether you like Margaret River Cabernet, Tasmanian Pinot Noir, or Yarra Valley Chardonnay, you’ll find the best bottles in this event.
Taste of the Outback of Regional South Australia
In April, tourists can experience the best of South Australia through this 4-day feast. It showcases delicious food and great wine from Innaminkca in the north to Jamestown in the south. For a unique experience, go to an exclusive candlelit dinner on a camel. You can also take cooking classes or watch entertaining movies under the stars. The highlight of this event is an Aussie Tea Cookout at the grand Flingers Ranges.
Other festivals tourists can go to are the Kangaroo Island Seafood Festival, and Noose International Food & Wine Festival. Whenever you decide to go to Australia, you’ll find different festivities to attend.
Australia is one of the largest wine exporters in the world. The country exports about 750 million litres of wine annually. Domestic consumption of Australian wine only amounts to about 40% of the country’s wine production. The industry contributes significantly to the Australian economy. The domestic market alone is worth 2.8 billion Australian dollars. People drink more than 520 million litres yearly with a per capita consumption of around 30 litres. The second largest wine consumers across the globe are the Norfolk Islanders, with about 54 litres of per capita consumption.
Australia’s Wine Regions
With over 60 designated wine areas, the country has established a global reputation for producing high quality wines. You’ll find majority of these regions in the south, which is the cooler part of the country. You’ll find some popular vineyards in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, and Victoria. Each region produces a different kind of wine, which depends on a region’s set of special geographical characteristics. Factors such as climatic differences, soil types, and topography play important roles in wine production.
Some popular types of wine produced in Australia are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Shiraz. You’ll also find great bottles of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Manufacturers label their wines according to the type of grapes they used for the product, which should constitute at the minimum, 85% of the wine. Some popular grape varieties manufacturers use are Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, and Shiraz.
Australian Capital Territory
Just outside Canberra, you’ll find about 33 wineries and 140 vineyards. Take a drive across the countryside and you’ll discover charming cafes, beautiful wineries, and vast farms. You’ll also have the chance to taste an original regional cuisine. Wines produced in Canberra region contains qualities that only an exceptional Australian environment can give. In this region, winemaking started about a century ago. This makes them one of the best in the industry.
Hunter Valley of New South Wales
Take a few hours drive north-west of Sydney and you’ll find the popular Hunter Valley. This is New South Wales primary wine region. It’s famous for Chardonnay, Semillon, and Shiraz wines. There are about 160 wineries throughout the region, including the country’s oldest winery located at Wyndham Estate. This is the best place to go for wine-tasting classes. You’ll also have the chance to meet winemakers and learn about their unique techniques.
For an unforgettable experience, visit the valley in spring for occasions such as Lovedale Long Lunch and other music events.
Yarra Valley of Victoria
About an hour away from Melbourne, Yarra Valley offers scenic views of rolling hills and about 55 wineries. The valley has a healthy mix of small family owned vineyards to large scale vineries. This region produces cool climate wines such as chardonnay, pinot noir, and sparkling wines. You’ll also find excellent types of pinot Gris, Riesling, sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz.
Other key wine regions around the country are Barossa Valley of the South, and Margaret River of the West.
Australian cuisine exhibits a beautiful fusion of different cultures, particularly British, Irish, and Mediterranean. While you may find diverse dishes in the country, Australia is also rich in native food items, such as fruits and vegetables. These essentials, when integrated with international dishes turn into delicious foods that are unique to the country.
Native Fruit Industry
According to New Rural Industries Australia, native plants have market potentials. However, they remain largely undeveloped. The Macadamia nut industry is an exception to this, as the industry is worth approximately $60 million. In 1998, the government created research and development programs to address concerns on the emerging industries, including assessment of different plant and fruit varieties. Some fruits that are native to Australia are Lemon Myrtle, Bush Tomato, Davidson’s Plum, and Riberries.
Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) is a native tree found in the rainforests of Queensland. It offers a unique lemon-lime fragrance as its leaves has high concentration of citral. People often dry the leaves and use them for tea, spice and potpourri. Some use the essential oil to give flavour to drinks and food. Other manufacturers use Lemon Myrtle as part of their disinfectant, products, air freshener, and body care essentials.
Sometimes called desert lime, this fruit can survive drought and easily adapt to different extreme conditions. You’ll find wild limes in regular and miniature sizes. They are segmented, juicy and have thin skin. Some say they resemble West Indian Green Limes. Others say they are bizarre finger limes. You can use wild limes as substitute to ordinary limes in most recipes. The best way to use this in cooking is to add them at the end of the cooking process. You can also use them as brulees, curds, marmalades, and sauces.
You’ll find Davidson plums in parts of New South Wales and Queensland. They have the same size as blood plums but with double flat seeds. They are extremely sour but also delicious and tangy. When using as substitute for ordinary plums, you only have to use 1 Davidson plum for 3 regular plums. It is best to mix them with other fruits to avoid overwhelming your dish with its flavour.
This is a desert shrub that thrives under the sun and needs little water to survive. Bush tomato is a staple among aborigines living in the desert. They often dry the tomato, ground, and mixed them with water to create a thick paste. They will roll the end product into large balls, dry them again and store them so they can use them later on.
Bush tomatoes resemble yellow cherry tomatoes but with a touch of green. Before using them, you need to dry them to decrease the amount of alkaloids, which can be dangerous. When dried, they often look like raisins with a rich reddish brown colour. Many people use bush tomatoes in any tomato dish, and often mix them with cheese, pepper, and chilli.
Other native fruits you’ll find in Australia are Quandong, Kakadu Plum, Riberries, and Muntries.
Fishery is an essential part of Australia’s economy. In the 90’s consumption of seafood in Perth alone amounts to 14.7 kilograms per capita. In Sydney, this number increases to 15.1 kilograms. In 2005, seafood consumption in Melbourne is about 12.5 kilograms per capita. According to the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre, the seafood industry is one of the most valuable food-based industries of the country. From 2006 to 2007, the industry has a gross value of production of approximately two million dollars.
Seafood Production and Composition
In the entire commonwealth area, Tasmania contributes 22% of the gross value generated from the seafood industry. Western and Southern Australia falls third and second place with 20% and 21% shares respectively. The country’s fishing zone is one of the largest across the globe, with an area of about 11 million square kilometres. Despite this vast size, however, the country only lands 52nd in terms of the volume of seafood production.
Australia markets seafood products mainly for human consumption. But they also have non-edible products, including fish meal and pearls. Like other countries, Australia’s seafood goods include those from aquaculture production, and wild catch.
Most Important Species from the Country
From 2007 to 2008, statistics showed that sardines has the biggest share in the market, with approximately 34,000 tonnes traded and imported. Salmonoids, such as trouts and salmons, came in second with about 25,500 tonnes. Prawns with 22,400 tonnes, tuna with 14,700 tonnes, and rock lobster with 13,800 came in 3rd, 4th, and 5th places. When it comes to revenue, however, rock lobster takes the first place, generating about $407 million in the same year. Salmonoids still came in second with a generated estimated value of $299 million.
Rockin’ with Southern Rock Lobster
Fishing southern rock lobster is an essential industry in the country. Australia exports about 4,000 tonnes of this product yearly to Asia, specifically, Japan, Hong Kong, and China. Just as other economies in Australia have adapted an environmentally sustainable approach, so has the southern rock lobster industry. In 2004, industry members attended training to highlight their “clean green” qualifications.
Lobster is a healthy seafood product that contains good amounts of Omega-3 oil. This substance carries essential fatty acids, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Having good levels of fatty acids can help you avoid cancer, including breast cancer, and heart diseases.
Keeping it True with Southern Bluefin Tuna
Organizations consider commercial tuna farming a new player in the fishing industry, as it started only about 20 years ago. You’ll find tuna ranching at port Lincoln, in southern Australia. Catching season falls between December and March, when there’s a huge catch along the Great Australian Bight area. As a medium flavoured flesh, many prefer southern Bluefin tuna for sushi and sashimi.
Enjoying Seafood Festivals
Want to taste Australia’s freshest catch? Visit the country in April for Kangaroo Island Seafood Feastival or December of Tasmania’s Taste Festival.
The Kangaroo Island Seafood Feastival highlights the island’s finest seafood produce and local gourmet items. Events include seafood barbecues, campfire cooking, and dining events.
If you’re looking for some fresh catch, pack your bags and visit Australia.