Many abroad are drawn to Australia with its diversity of landscapes from Uluru in the outback, pristine swimming holes nestled away in the tropics, and 36,745 km of rugged coastlines boasting some of the consistently top-rated beaches from Whitsundays in Queensland to Turquoise Bay in Western Australia.
While sinking your teeth into the crunch of a chicken parmigiana – an Australian staple, the silky texture of a flat white or the maltiness of Vegemite, food may not come to mind when thinking about Australia. But with its quirky array of offerings, Australian foods will be sure to linger on you after leaving Australia.
Coming to Australia from almost anywhere in the world apart from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia, is a long haul. So, this likely means upon arrival you will be feeling famished and ready to try the mouth-watering delights of Australia.
Australia is a foodie’s haven. Its influences draw from its local flora and fauna, twists on favorites from around the world and it is constantly evolving with the forces such as sustainability, taste preferences and health trends.
One thing that strikes nomads and tourist alike upon arrival in Australia is the cost of food. Whether it is dining out at a swanky CBD outpost, a local deli or at its nationwide grocery stores, be prepared to fork out more money than you may be used to back home. So, we suggest nesting away a sizable cushion to spread over your time in Australia or start searching for local work upon arrival to help fund your food journey around Australia.
History and Evolution of Australian Foods
When the first European settlers came to Australia, they were met by Aborigines consuming bush tucker/bush food which is still eaten today. This diet is built around nutrient dense foods and a high proportion of animal foods including kangaroo, emu, crocodiles, barramundi, marron and more. This diet varies depending on regions of Australia and the seasonal variations.
The European settlers were not accustomed to the bush tucker diet and as a result, they craved the comforts of back home. They began the groundwork to realize this by establishing extensive farms that would provide the ingredients of dishes frequently found back home in Britain and Ireland.
Today, food eaten in Australia is highly influenced by Asia with its proximity and pre- covid-19 being a frequent travel destination for Australians.
Drawing on the expertise of nomads and expats alike that have spent a considerable amount of time in Australia, we have generated for you 10 foods you need to snag your hands on upon arrival in Australia.
1. Chicken Parmigiana
Some say this dish’s roots are grounded in Italy, others in the United States, but sliding its origin aside, the Aussies serve up a healthy serve of “Chicken Parma” or simply “Parmi” or “Parma”. This main oozes with golden cheese, crispy fried chicken and can be found sprawled in red tomato sauce. And typically accompanied by a decent greens salad and chips. The best place to secure your first parmi or parma in Australia? We suggest heading to any local pub nearby as it is sure to be on the menu.
Bonus tip – Browse your local pub night’s specials, and there is a good chance the parmi has secured a one weekday night at $15 AUD. This is the perfect score for a nomad’s budget. This by far is the best value for money at the pub and will leave you satisfied well into morning.
We recommend sizzling up this Australian crowd pleaser at home with this easy recipe found here.
Outside of Home
Between $26- $29 AUD, but as previously mentioned, look out for a pub weekday night special to secure this dish from $15 AUD.
2. Steak Sandwich
Another institution within the Australian food scene is the steak sandwich. While this dish can be commonly found in North America, it is the Aussie twist that makes it so irresistible. Australian grown Rump steak can be found dropped between crusty Turkish bread or panini and then moisten by a glazed relish or creamy aioli sauce
This favorite regularly secures a top spot on the menu, making it an easy order.
Served up on a bed of hot chips and a garden salad (if the venue is feeling generous), this is another well valued dish that will munch off any hunger pains.
We recommend frying up the onions and searing up rump steak in these quick and easy steps found here.
Outside of Home
The Lord Dudley Hotel, Sydney
The Beach Club Collaroy, Sydney
Between $18- $26 AUD, but as previously mentioned, look out for the pubs weekday night specials to secure from $15 AUD at your local pub.
Whether it is sandwiched between a piled high burger, tossed amongst a greens salad, or served up as a tangy side at dinner, beetroot with its vibrant hue makes its mark with its punchy color and taste. It is no secret that the Aussie’s have a strong affinity to this purple root vegetable, so watch out for its vibrant hue next time you are ordering lunch and perhaps even finding it in your next brunch outing.
Toss into a rocket salad, add a pickled slice to your next lamb burger or serve up alone in a nice serving dish to balance out any sweetness in your next main meal.
Outside of Home
We recommend asking for a sprinkling of beetroot when you order your first roll (a sandwich that can be served on baguette, or round bun) at a deli in Australia.
By the can approximately $2.50 AUD
Fresh approximately $5.00 per kg AUD
4. Avocado Smash or simply “Avo Smash”
Touted as the demise of millennials owning a home, the simply “avo smash” consists of a piece of bread, an avocado battered and then dispersed generously over a piece of bread. This dish consisting of half a piece of fruit, one slice of bread and some seasonings, can fork one nomad out anywhere up to $25 AUD. Tweaks to this staple can range from addition of a poached egg or two, crumbled feta, balsamic vinaigrette, pumpkin or some sort of seeds, squeeze of lemon or lime juice, chili flakes and more.
Not having to travel extensively, Australian avocados can be primarily found on trees in Queensland. This stone fruit is sought after for its buttery texture and/or nutty taste.
Pocket $20 AUD and create your own café inspired avo smash at home in these quick and easy steps here.
Outside of Home
Laneway Café, Sydney
Monk Bodhi Dharma, Melbourne
Cost from $18-25 AUD, but sometimes poached eggs or toppings are charged extra.
5. Meat Pie
Whether it is a quick grab and go as you head out for your first Australian road trip, an easy grab at your first AFL game or served up on a china plate with a heaping of green peas, gravy and mashed potatoes, this comfort food enclosed by the richness of a buttery pastry with warm contents inside, is an easy devour. This will leave you feeling oh so satisfied. Outside of delis and stadiums, pies have evolved from their classic beef mince into a wide offering from fillings of mushrooms, sweet potatoes, chunky steak bits, cheese, lamb, chicken curry and more.
The Aussie pie is best served up with a generous squeeze of tomato sauce atop.
We suggest sourcing a rolling pin, pie pan, some quality mince (ground beef), and finding an hour to set aside. Follow these easy steps here.
Outside of Home
Meat pies can be found costing from approximately $4.00 AUD at a deli to $8.00 AUD at a bakery or pie shop.
6. Hot Chips
Australia has their own spin on hot chips or commonly referred to outside of Australia as merely “fries” or “french fries”.
For starters, these typically come a bit thicker than your shoestring fries at McDonald’s. Secondly, Australians have a cult like obsession with chicken salt which makes them even more tempting. Trust us, hot chips or fries will never be the same.
Outside of Home
Hungry Jack’s– Found Australia Wide
Red Rooster – Found Australia Wide
From $1.00 AUD at a fast-food location to $9 AUD served at a pub or restaurant.
This adorable animal can be found on the Australia Coat of Arms, hopping along at dawn or dusk in grassy hinterland or making their presence known on popular beaches such as Lucky Bay in Esperance, Western Australia and Cape Hillsborough at sunrise in Mackay, Queensland. But beyond the grasslands and beaches, you might unsurprisingly find this adorable creature landing on your plate at a Modern Australian Restaurant.
But, do not fret. Served up in small filets alongside vegies, garnished atop a pizza, silky cold as a tartare dish or tucked away in a curry dish, these adorable creatures become unrecognizable plated up. Plus you have the backing that this dish has been eaten by Australians for over 50,000 years.
The taste profile is earthy and gamey with more of a chewy texture versus beef. Kangaroo punches a number of health benefits being low in fat with only a 2 % fat content and high in iron. Surely, you cannot say you have been to Australia until you have tasted this earthy delight.
Scour here on how to cook up the perfect kangaroo steak at home so it is not too dry nor too chewy.
Outside of Home
Kangaroo can be found plated up at a Modern Australian Restaurant from approximately $12- 38 AUD depending how it served from mince to filets.
Sinking your teeth into your first pavlova is such a dreamlike experience. And even if you have had one before, Australians sure know how to whip up a pavlova with the perfect poise of fluffiness to sweetness.
The perfect indulgence to the end of an evening with layers of egg whites, whipped cream and topped with an array of seasonal fruits. We suggest trying pavlova with a sprinkle of passionfruit, providing a counterbalance with its tart profile.
This dish acclaimed as an Australian icon, can be typically found at a BBQ with friends and family, patisseries, or served up as the final offering at a Modern Australian eatery.
Outside of Home
From approximately $12 AUD by the slice.
Some would ask what all the fuss is about. For these are only crackers? Found on every grocery shelf in Australia, with flavors such as Pizza, Vegemite and Cheese, and more. These small bites grasp you tightly and will become your new snack best friend.
These are light and easy for throwing into your bag and to crush any savory craving during long road trips around Australia. Did you know the distances between any major city in Australia is a minimum of 8 hours? Alternatively, Shapes are best served at beach days or for BBQ hangouts with your newfound mates.
We recommend the Original Pizza or if you are looking to embrace everything Aussie, biting into the Vegemite & Cheese flavor.
Approximately $3 AUD at Woolworths or Coles.
Ask any Australian when they move abroad what is one iconic food item has them scouring every local grocery shop for? And most commonly this will be the iconic yellow and red jar- Vegemite. Filled with a brown substance, it has a salty profile, an acquired taste and is a staple to any Australian’s pantry.
Vegemite is best served on toasted bread, butter and scraped on top to your liking.
Bonus tip: While cooking at home, Vegemite makes the perfect addition to gravies providing the desired coloring and adding depth. And giving your gravy that extra salty zing!
From $3.50 AUD at Woolworths or Coles depending on the jar size.
Immerse yourself into the native ingredients of Australia as a nomad, and dishes that continue to evolve as Australia builds upon some of the best dishes found from around the globe. Pre-empt your appetite and come take a food journey around Australia from the laneways of Melbourne, to the hippie cafes of Byron bay serving up the best in vegan and organics eats to the Bondi Farmers Markets wafting smells of basil, deep fried sweets and stacked potatoes. Happy food exploring throughout Australia!
While eating out in Australia it is not necessary to tip. Locals do not normally tip unless they receive extraordinary service.
Drop us a comment below on what food item most excites you ahead of arriving in Australia?