Clas­sic foods

True-blue 22: where to eat Aus­tralia’s most fa­mous tucker

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The town­ship of Pin­jarra, south of Perth, is a pretty col­lec­tion of his­toric build­ings first set­tled in the 1830s. Here, among the craft cen­tres and cafés, you can par­take of one of Aus­tralia’s great pas­times: stuff­ing your face with a meat pie. Buy it from Pin­jarra Bak­ery and Patis­serie (pin­jarra bak­, which won the Footy Pie cat­e­gory at the Of­fi­cial Great Aussie Pie Com­pe­ti­tion in 2016, and eat it in the nearby Her­itage Rose Gar­den while, um, smelling the roses.



Much sought af­ter, Syd­ney rock oys­ters are best eaten freshly shucked. And where bet­ter to do that than on an oys­ter punt in the beau­ti­ful Pam­bula River es­tu­ary on NSW’s South Coast? Un­like the oys­ters them­selves – which are del­i­cate lit­tle beau­ties – Cap­tain Sponge’s Mag­i­cal Oys­ter Tours (mag­icaloys­ter­ au) is a bit of a mouth­ful but go­ing on one is well worth it. You get a cruise, a hands-on ex­pla­na­tion of oys­ter farm­ing and a few of the fresh­est oys­ters you’re ever likely to eat.



Vic­to­rian gold-rush town Bendigo is full of beau­ti­ful ar­chi­tec­ture, has a plethora of parks and gardens and is a re­gional cul­tural hub to boot. Hard to be­lieve, then, that this is where lo­cal boil­er­maker Frank McEn­croe cre­ated the Chiko Roll. The first out­ing of this pop­u­lar snack – a deep-fried pas­try tube filled with meat and veg­eta­bles – was in Wagga Wagga, NSW, in 1951 but it was birthed in Bendigo. Eat it at the Bendigo Agri­cul­tural Show So­ci­ety’s An­nual Show ( on Oc­to­ber 20 and 21 this year. It can also be found at most fish ’n’ chip shops and pop­u­lar sport­ing events.


Named af­ter Lord Lamington, a for­mer gov­er­nor of Queens­land whose chef sup­pos­edly in­vented it, the lamington is sim­ply a sponge cake dipped in choco­late and coated with co­conut. It can be en­joyed at The Pantry café ( in Bris­bane’s Old Gov­ern­ment House, al­leged scene of the cake’s cre­ation.


Na­tive only to eastern Aus­tralia, the macadamia nut is now cul­ti­vated all over the world. Just in­land from the NSW North Coast be­tween Bal­lina and By­ron, there is, yes, Macadamia Cas­tle (macadami­a­cas­tle. This 2.4-hectare fam­ily fun park fea­tures an an­i­mal park, 18-hole minigolf and a nut bar. Visit the café for the macadamia-and­mango pan­cakes.


All right, set­tle down, kids: they don’t ac­tu­ally fry Nemo at the Fry­ing Nemo fish ’n’ chip shop (fry­ in Dar­win but they do serve a mean wild-caught barra. It also helps that one of Aus­tralia’s favourite fish can be eaten on a de­light­ful wooden deck over­look­ing the yachts in the Tip­per­ary Wa­ters ma­rina. Bar­ra­mundi, by the way, is Abo­rig­i­nal for “large-scaled sil­ver fish”.



There’s that clas­sic Paul Ho­gan ad of 1984, of course, in which he in­vites Amer­i­cans to Aus­tralia and says, “I’ll slip an ex­tra shrimp on the bar­bie for ya” while hold­ing up a large prawn. The name change was to avoid any confusion in the United States but it doesn’t change the fact that a big old prawn on a bar­be­cue is heaven on Earth. Grunske’s by the River (grunskesby is a fish mar­ket and restau­rant in Queens­land’s East Bund­aberg, fronting the Bur­nett River. Feast on prawns there or buy some and bar­be­cue them your­self.



A true-blue Aussie beef burger isn’t com­plete with­out a slice of beet­root flopped in­side. Renowned Amer­i­can chef David Chang says Aus­tralians bug­ger up burg­ers more than any­one else in the world. What does he know? Try one from Neil Perry’s Burger Project (burg­er­pro­ out­lets: his Aussie burger uses Cape Grim beef and – take that, Chang – beet­root.


In 1990, just 14 per cent of Aus­tralian lamb was ex­ported and the in­dus­try was worth $1.9 bil­lion. To­day, those fig­ures are 56 per cent and $3.9 bil­lion. So eat up, peo­ple, be­fore it all dis­ap­pears. One place that uses lo­cal lamb – and uses it well – is Graze restau­rant at the Wil­low Tree Inn (grazewil­lowtree. on the New Eng­land High­way in NSW’s Wil­low Tree. Or­der the slow-cooked lamb shoul­der for two. Take some­one else if you must.



We’re go­ing through the look­ing glass on this one: this Alice in Won­der­land­sound­ing tart – a hand-sized pas­try filled with mock cream (and some­times jam) then topped with dried ic­ing in two colours – was not in­vented in the won­der­fully named NSW town of Grong Grong. That’s just wrong­wrong; a lit­tle white lie about lo­cal woman Ruby Neenish that got out of hand. The Neenish Tart Face­book page raves about those from Victoria at the Ap­pin Street Bak­ery in Wan­garatta (03 5721 2496) and The Basin Bak­ery in The Basin (03 9762 3081).


The Prairie Ho­tel (prairieho­ is a grand old sand­stone pile in Parachilna, a dot of a place near the Flin­ders Ranges in South Aus­tralia’s out­back. About 500 kilo­me­tres north of Ade­laide, the ho­tel is fa­mous for its Feral Mixed Grill of kan­ga­roo and emu fil­lets and camel sausage. Eat it in the early evening as the sun goes down and turns the sand­stone to gold.



Whether it’s the week­end sausage siz­zle out­side your lo­cal Bun­nings hard­ware store or the fa­mous “democ­racy sausages” at polling booths on elec­tion day, Aus­tralians do love a sim­ple snag on white bread, maybe with grilled onions and a spat­ter­ing of tomato, mus­tard or bar­be­cue sauce. Grab a beach um­brella and some sangers from Bun­nings in Rose­bud, on Victoria’s Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, then make your way to the lovely Rose­bud fore­shore camp­ing re­serve (morn­ It’s only a five-minute drive away so the snags will still be warm when you get there.


What used to be ex­otic meat can now be found in the large su­per­mar­ket chains, though it’s still not hugely pop­u­lar. Up in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, where crocs have been known to eat peo­ple, you can get your own back by eat­ing them at Out­back Jacks Bar & Grill (out­back­ There’s a gi­ant 10-me­tre saltie in­side (don’t worry, it’s fake) that might be good for a selfie. Then get your teeth into the sig­na­ture bar­be­cued croc skew­ers, ribs or burger.


Thanks to post­war im­mi­gra­tion from Europe, Aus­tralia now pumps out some of the best cof­fee in the world. For an award­win­ning cuppa, visit Ona Cof­fee (ona­cof­ in Can­berra. Its head trainer, Hugh Kelly, was named Aus­tralian Barista Cham­pion in 2016. His men­tor, café di­rec­tor Sasa Ses­tic, won the ti­tle in 2015 and then took out that year’s World Barista Cham­pi­onship, too.



The western rock lob­ster, or cray­fish – Pan­ulirus cygnus if you have a sci­en­tific bent – can be found in the wa­ters off Western Aus­tralia, liv­ing mostly be­tween Perth and Ger­ald­ton. Get your­self to Cer­vantes, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Perth, for good lob­ster in sea­son. You’d be hard-pressed to find fresher than at The Lob­ster Shack (lob­ster­, a fac­tory and restau­rant in Madrid Street that’s open 11am to 3pm daily for lunch.



Den­mark is a town in WA’s stunning Great South­ern coastal re­gion about 400 kilo­me­tres south of Perth. It has dra­matic coast­lines, age-old forests, golden beaches, turquoise wa­ters and, on Strick­land Street, the Den­mark Bak­ery (den­mark­bak­ – 2016 win­ner of the best sausage roll in the Of­fi­cial Great Aussie Pie Com­pe­ti­tion. This is no mean feat, as Aussies love their sausage rolls as much as their pies. Snack on it while walk­ing the Bib­bul­mun Track, the state’s long­est hiking trail, which passes through town.


Aus­tralians eat about 25 kilo­grams of seafood per per­son an­nu­ally and a fair whack of that is sal­mon. Ac­cord­ing to Roy Mor­gan Re­search, a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion eats it in any given week. Oddly, salmonpro­duc­ing Tas­ma­nia is one of only two states where its con­sump­tion has de­clined (from 27 per cent in 2014 to 23 per cent), which means all the more for us. Head to Ho­bart’s water­front and the Drunken Ad­mi­ral Sea­far­ers Restau­rant (drunk­e­nad­mi­ral. for a good se­lec­tion of sal­mon dishes.


This fruit is syn­ony­mous with sum­mer and, in Aus­tralia, the Kens­ing­ton Pride (or Bowen mango) is the most pop­u­lar – ac­count­ing for about 55 per cent of our an­nual com­mer­cial mar­ket. See the 10-me­tre-tall Big Mango in Queens­land’s Bowen, where this va­ri­ety was orig­i­nally grown. The nearby in­for­ma­tion cen­tre (tourism­ sells a pure mango sor­bet, as well as mango fudge, dried mango, mango lip balm, mango body lo­tion and mango toi­let pa­per. Okay, I made that last one up but give ’em time.


The pav con­tin­ues to court con­tro­versy, for there is much dis­cus­sion as to whether it orig­i­nated in Aus­tralia or New Zealand – or in­deed else­where. What’s not in con­tention is that it’s a meringue dessert topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream and was named af­ter Rus­sian bal­le­rina Anna Pavlova. In­dulge at Adri­ano Zumbo’s café and high-tea sa­lon (zum­bo­ in South Yarra, Mel­bourne, where it ap­pears on the Dessert Bar menu on Satur­day nights only.



Bush herbs, spices and fruits have been pop­u­lar in Aus­tralia in re­cent years; say, the past 50,000 or so. In­dige­nous Aus­tralians have been chow­ing down on them for a while but the rest of us have fi­nally caught on. The Ay­ers Rock Re­sort (ay­er­srock­re­ in Cen­tral Aus­tralia has cre­ated a Bush Tucker Trail through the re­sort’s restau­rants, serv­ing dishes with lo­cal in­gre­di­ents such as bush tomato, Kakadu plum, wat­tle­seed and lemon myr­tle. You can also im­bibe a range of bush-tucker cock­tails – Quan­dong caprioska, any­one?


When so­cial com­men­ta­tor Bernard Salt pon­tif­i­cated in his news­pa­per col­umn last Oc­to­ber that young peo­ple could af­ford a mort­gage if they stopped pay­ing $22 for smashed av­o­cado on toast, he un­wit­tingly put this hum­ble fruit in the na­tional spot­light. Now you can’t find a café with­out smashed av­o­cado on the menu. Un­less it’s the Plan­ta­tion Cafe at Trop­i­cal Fruit World (trop­i­cal­fruit in Du­ran­bah, north­ern NSW, home of the Big Av­o­cado. Their Av­o­cado Lovers’ De­light is an av­o­cado (half) served with gluten­free toast and a spicy sauce. Note the par­en­thet­i­cal half: none of your hip­ster smash here, cob­ber.



Pretty much a fea­ture of ev­ery Aus­tralian’s child­hood and pop­u­lar in the milk bars of old, the spi­der is a scoop of ice-cream in a soft drink or car­bon­ated wa­ter flavoured with cor­dial. The milk bars are mostly gone now but a great one sur­vives in the min­ing town of Bro­ken Hill in out­back NSW. Bells Milk Bar (bellsmilk­ is a ’50s-style joint where you can drink malted milk and ice-cream so­das in more than 50 flavours.

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