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Nov 7, 2010 11:32 AM

Australia/NZ/Solomon Islands/Fiji - want to base travel around food!

Hi everyone!
I want to base my 6 week travel to Australia and New Zealand around delicious eats. Where are some areas that you recommend I "not miss" for food? I'm told that NZ has fabulous seafood and eats, and my original plan to just go for 1 week would not satisfy my foodie-soul. I also want to try interesting things - are there parts of the 'outback' that I should go for a unique experience?
I was told that 4 weeks is NOT enough for experience Aussie, but I want to try!



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  1. It is such a big question is is almost impossible to answer. The big food scene in Aus is in the cities and this tends to revolve around the rich culture mix we get from immigration coupled with a creativity and innovation and of course underpinned by an economy that is doing OK. So Melbourne for a more stylish European mix; Sydney for a more brash broad based mix, Adelaide for local innovation, and Darwin for a good infusion of Asian culture. And of course each city has its fair share of the others qualities i.e. you get great Asian food in all of them not just Darwin.
    The unique and interesting is best satisfied by going on a "bush tucker" trip.

    Up in Darwin or across in FNQ (Far North Queensland) you can book walking tours with Aboriginal guides who can introduce you to the indigenous food and culture of Australia. Obviously try and avoid the touristy ones and try and get to the real people who do these.

    Once you get more of a fix on your itinerary I am certain we can all help direct you to good stuff.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PhilD

      Thank you Phil! I've done quite a bit of hunting. I've heard that Noosa, Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth are the places to hit for well as Tasmania! So...

      So I'm toying with the idea of 5 weeks in Australia and 3 weeks in New Zealand, but not booking my New Zealand flight until I'm there to keep it flexible.
      So after some research I've come up with a list of things that I'm interested in, but I know I can't hit them all. My priorities have become food, natural sites/animals, with a touch of city life here and there.

      1. Uluru & Alice Springs
      2. Sydney
      3. Melbourne
      4. Tasmania
      5. Perth/Rottnest Island
      6. Purnululu
      7. Cairnes/Karunda
      8. Noosa
      9. Shark Bay
      10. Gold Cost
      11. Katherine
      12. Wolfe Creek
      Phew! Research is exciting!

      So I'm toying with this
      6 weeks in Aussie:
      1. Start: Perth [3 days]
      2. Fly to Ayers Rock & Alice Springs [6 days]
      3. Fly from Alice Springs to Darwin, which will lead me to Purnululu [7 days]
      4. Fly from Darwin to Cairnes/Karunda [7 days]*
      5. Travel from Darwin to Gold coast, stopping in Noosa if convenient [4 days]
      6. Sydney [4 days]
      7. Melboune [4 days]
      8. Tasmania [5 days]
      *Due to timing however, I’m thinking of skipping Cairnes due to the wet season in favour of Shark Bay, or an extra week in New Zealand

      Once I have a better idea, I post specifics...but it seems like I can hit the foodie places on this route!

      1. re: ekim256

        Okay, so I did a bit more trip planning last night and this morning. I am either going to arrive Dec 1 and be around until February 7th...or arrive December 20th until March 2nd - I have a couple days to decide before prices go up again. Maybe this is a better plan:
        1. Start in Sydney on Dec 20th. I was thinking that Sydney would be the most fun for New Years and Christmas.
        2. Move my way down to Melbourne
        3. Fly to Tasmania
        4. From there, hit New Zealand moving from the South up to Auckland.
        5. Fly from Auckland to Cairnes
        6. Move down Brisbane/Gold Coast/Noosa
        7. Brisbane to Perth
        8. Perth to Annie Springs
        9. Annie Springs to Darwin

        That way...I am visiting Uluru when it's still hot, but the least hot out of the weeks I will be there. If the weather feels awful, I'll hit Shark Bay instead or be spontaneous and just go somewhere! Anywhere! It all looks so exciting...! Maybe go down to the winery area, who knows!

        Phil, the walking tour sounds like an amazing idea...

        1. re: ekim256

          In general, and like most destinations, foodie places and big tourist sightseeing places do not always coexist. Here are a few places that in my view, manage to contain both:
          1. Quay restaurant in Sydney. The View. The Food. Sean's Panaroma or Icebergs for lunch on a Sunday is a great way to experience Bondi Beach.
          2. The premier wine areas, especially the Barossa and Margaret River (MR has great beaches too).
          3. Tassie. There are some great walking places like Bay of Fires and Cradle Mountain and the a lot of restaurants that are really dedicated to excellence. Good wine too.
          4. Noosa. This place took an amazing coastline, added high quality accommodation, filled that full of discerning Melbournians and added some of the best regional dining in the country to keep them happy.
          I have not put Melbourne on the food + sights list but that is because Melbourne deserves a food pilgrimmage all on its own. From places like Cumulus Inc, Movida, Reymond to the simplest of Italian cafes, Melbourne has a great, vibrant, well-priced food scene. Get into it.
          I hate Cairns and I have never eaten well there but there are a few decent restaurants in Port Douglas. Brisbane has a growing food and cafe scene too.
          As a general approach though, you should not expect too much from restaurants near the really big tourist areas. I have eaten some genuinely disgusting meals at resorts in Queensland and would advise against the Gold Coast if you are a foodie. Best to use that time in Noosa or Far North Queensland. Cheers

    2. This is what I'm thinking now:

      Dec 1st - 7th: Melbourne (I heard this is *the* foodie city!)
      Dec 7th - Dec 28th: Fly to Cairnes, take the greyhound down to Whit Sunday Islands, Hervey Bay, Noosa, Gold Coast, all the way to Sydney
      Dec 28th - Jan 2nd: Sydney
      Jan 2nd - Jan 24th: New Zealand
      Jan 25th - February 9th: Tasmania
      February 10th-14th: Spontaneous. Ayres Rock/Urulu/KataTjuta if I decide to bear the heat. Darwin for an aboriginal walking tour and lightening storms. Perth for lovely sights. These are all places that I'd fly to on a whim! Unless if one really sings to me before I go, it will be a last minute decision.

      Now, my question: I read that Tasmania might not be so "WOW!" after New Zealand so perhaps I should stick to a week. Keeping in mind that my love is food food food...does that make sense? If so, then I would cut my Tasmania trip to 7 days, have more time and do Perth AND Darwin...or go back to my stop-over plans in Malaysia. Thoughts? :-)

      3 Replies
      1. re: ekim256

        I had a couple of weeks in Malaysia and I thought the food was stunning. We did Singapore- Malacca-KL- Ipoh- Penang - and I am in love w the food. I think you probably should shorten the Tasmania part. I'm from San Francisco, lived in Sydney a couple of years and just moved to Melbourne - let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

        1. re: debbieann

          How about a recommendation for Malaysian in Melbourne or Sydney? I am leaving tomorrow from SFO to Melbourne. Thanks!

        2. re: ekim256

          Oh yes, the Whitsundays are absolutely gorgeous - particularly the islands. I'd prioritise a visit there if I were you.

          If you have to drop a few beaches, I'd say drop Gold Coast and Hervey Bay over Noosa (though to be fair, I haven't been to Hervey Bay for many years. They have whale watching there, but I don't know if it's the season right now). Similarly, there are dolphins at Monkey Mia (Western Australia) - but not sure about the timing.

          If you are interested in wine regions, Margaret River (Western Australia) is awesome, particularly for whites. But then, so is the Marlborough region (New Zealand).

          Tasmania is indeed gorgeous but yeah, maybe not a "must see" if you've just been to New Zealand.

        3. Thanks!!
          I also just added Adelaide and Murray River to my radar :D

          1 Reply
          1. re: ekim256

            Be careful not to confuse Margaret River with the Murray River. By no means is the Murray River a food or wine destination. As mentioned above, if time is an issue then I would bypass Hervey Bay for some time in the Whitsundays. Noosa is really quite good for food. Tasmania, however, is definitely great for food.

            The Agrarian Kitchen in Tasmania is worth investigating for a unique experience. Garagistes in Hobart is also meant to be fantastic.

          2. Awesome, I love you guys. All noted. Still working out some travel kinks, but once I land in your beautiful country...expect to see some posts about your delicious cuisine and requests
            As for Murray River - I got that idea from this:
            However, it appears that it was a unique experience, not something that I can easily recreate with my time and resources.
            I've heard that Port Douglas should be my first stop when I go up that area, and that I might want to just zip by Cairnes. I hope that I meet some foodies along the way who will do the East Coast with me, in a food-centric manner!
            There's a chance that my trip might have to be chopped in half (my heart will break but c'est la vie) so I will definitely have to do some re-arranging for the sake of food. Worst case scenario, I skip New Zealand all together and just focus on Australia and return for a New Zealand focused trip. Crossing my fingers that that won't happen!

            I had no idea that Brisbane had a growing scene though - I shall do some research into that too. I was told that I should just zip by it as well if I'm pressed for time, but everyone has a different opinion :


            Lastly, I'm one of the odd people who love food but does not enjoy wine and cheese. However, the food in Ontario's wine country is fantastic so I would think that the same applies here - Margaret River/Barossa still worth the trek if I'm short for time and I'm not someone who can appreciate good wine?

            I'm actually really excited for Melbourne. I was told by a few others that 3 days would be enough but I've slotted a week because the market, the restaurants, and even the side trips (Phillips Island & Great Ocean Road!) sound too fantastic.

            I am not even there yet, and I've already fallen in love with your country =)
            Thank you,

            1 Reply
            1. re: ekim256

              3 days for Melbourne? Are you kidding me? These "others" obviously aren't locals ;)

              The Great Ocean Road is quite a long drive. Make sure you take enough breaks and plan your driving. I would suggest you check out the restaurant Loam if you are going to do it.



            2. If you do make it to NZ, I can give a couple of recommendations for the two largest cities in the North Island (hopefully some others on here will have a bit of expertise in the South Island!).


              O'Connell St Bistro

              Both fine-dining, Mikano has a focus on Seafood.


              The General Practitioner
              Logan Brown

              The GP is a gastro-pub, Logan Brown is high-end with a mix of game and seafood.

              All four of these are central-city places. However, if you are going to be there in January, the best food experiences of your NZ trip will be: buying fresh seafood off the side of the road driving up and down the coast. Fresh snapper, khawhai (like a giant herring, delicious smoked), kina (sea urchins), pipis, paua and cockles (various types of shellfish), crayfish (NZ rock lobster), prawns in the warmer areas (although in my humble opinion Australia beats us for crustaceans including prawns, crabs and their delicious Morton Bay Bugs). Areas I'd say are the west coast of the North Island (Bay of Islands, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, 90 mile beach up to Kaitaia). You miss oyster season.

              January also has a wealth of delicious stone fruit - peaches, nectarines, cherries (I think I'm remebering this right). Otago in the South Island and the Hawkes Bay in the north.

              I could go on forever. But now I need to get back to working in my dull, grey London office and try to stop thinking about home.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ultimatepotato

                Ooh, the GP sounds good.

                In past travels in NZ I would say that outside the big cities, it's a land of great ingredients, not great cooking. The meals I liked the least were in trendy restaurants that spent too much time on sauce.

                As noted above, New Zealand has exceptional seafood, produce, wine, and of course fresh lamb. You can buy fresh mussels in the supermarket and cook them yourself. (Many motels have kitchenettes). Don't forget the manuka honey.

                Will add a khawhai to the list for our upcoming trip.

                1. re: ultimatepotato

                  Very true Windy - the ingredients in NZ are superior to the treatment they get in a lot of places.

                  Sorry, I've added an extra 'h' to Kawhai.And I've just realised in my befuddled state that I said West coast instead of East when I was talking about the North Island.! For shame, I probably won't be allowed back through customs ever again.