News of our state borders reopening has never sounded sweeter. If you spent lockdown, obsessed with TikTok recipes and getting intimately acquainted with local takeaway menus, you’ll have more than itchy feet.
You’ll be ready to hit the road. Satisfy your hunger for bakeries, farm gates and regional restaurants on these fantastic foodie trails
The Sir George Hotel in Jugiong put Hilltops on the map, but this rural district between Sydney and Melbourne is a stellar spot for sweet cherries and cool-climate grapes. Enjoy a tipple in Murrumbateman, home to the likes of Clonakilla, Eden Road and Shaw Wines. Binalong, a cute country town with heritage appeal, boasts Harden’s House of Honey, the place to stock up on honey and candles. The Magistrate’s Tearoom in Boorowa is the place for a good old-fashioned Devonshire tea.
Southern Highlands, NSW
Just 90 minutes south of Sydney, you’ll find a string of cute country towns and no less than 30 cellar doors showcasing cool-climate wines. The new cellar door at Bendooley Estate in Berrima is one of the best, a light-filled space with pops of colour and an inventive bar menu. For a tasting of a different kind, head to Joadja Distillery, a whisky-tasting room in the ruins of an old oil shale town. Robertson is renowned for its crusty, flaky pies – they’re worth the queue. For fine-dining perfection, book ahead for Paste, a hatted Thai restaurant in Mittagong attracting a well-deserved buzz. In all, there are nine food-and-wine clusters, easily explored by downloading one of the self-guided maps.
You don’t have to venture far to experience the charms of Gippsland. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne is Loch Brewery and Distillery, a tasting room and cellar with gin, whisky and traditional ale. Over in Warragul is Hogget Kitchen, a nose-to-tail fine diner with bucolic views over the Strzelecki Ranges. South Gippsland boasts Prom Country’s award-winning cheeses. You’ll also find Gurneys, the largest cidery in the Southern Hemisphere with spectacular views to Wilsons Promontory. East Gippsland is home to two hatted restaurants: you can dine on fish fresh off the boat at Sodafish or savour a degustation at Sardine Eatery. Next door is their new bar, serving charcuterie plates paired with local wines. It’s within striking distance of Lightfoot & Sons cellar door and Long Paddock, a retro cafe in Lindenow with exceptional cakes.
Twelve Apostles, Vic
The Great Ocean Road is famous for more than its majestic limestone columns. Scattered along the coast and inland crater country is a collective of exciting small-batch food producers. Pick up a map from the Port Campbell visitors’ centre and set off on the 75-kilometre loop, which showcases cheesemakers, small-batch whisky producers, artisan chocolates, cool-climate wines and, surprisingly, snails. Indulge in a cone of award-winning Timboon Fine Ice Cream, pick ripe summer strawberries at Berry Farm, and taste the biodynamic farmhouse cheeses at Timboon Cheesery. Newtons Ridge Estate, a small family-run vineyard, is a top spot to savour cool-climate wines against a backdrop of dreamy countryside views.
Granite Belt, Qld
It might fly under the radar, but the Granite Belt is one of this country’s edgiest wine regions, with a dining scene to match. On the Strange Bird Alternative Wine Trail, you can swirl a glass of tempranillo, mourvedre and fiano or sample a viognier or roussanne and learn how to pair them with food. Varia’s Restaurant, a student-run wine cellar and bistro in Stanthorpe showcases dishes made from seasonal local ingredients. Dine at Ballandean’s winery restaurant surrounded by port barrels or swap grapes for cocoa beans at Wisteria Cottage in Wyberba, with a spread of Belgian chocolates and decadent hot cocoa drinks. Make a beeline for Suttons Farm, where the homemade apple pie lives up to the hype.
Blue seas, swaying palm trees and the world’s oldest rainforest make for a stunning backdrop to the Daintree food trail. The 87-kilometre path winds between barramundi farms and orchards, small farms and micro growers from the Daintree to Port Douglas. Indulge in Daintree Estate Chocolates or the four-scoop Signature Cup at the Daintree Ice Cream Company, where premium gelato is swirled with tropical fruits grown in Daintree orchards. Once you’ve eaten your way toward the top of Australia, make a detour to Oaks Kitchen and Garden. Set amid wild organic gardens, the Thai-centric cooking school is co-owned by Rachel Boon and ex-Longrain Melbourne chef Ben Wallace. The multi-course lunch might include red claw crayfish spun into a green mango and papaya salad or a yellow curry of goat.
Cradle to Coast Trail, Tas
Leave the Hobart crowds behind for this delicious road trip into the remote north- west corner of Tasmania. Stretching from Launceston to Stanley, the Cradle to Coast trail takes in 20 artisan producers, restaurants, farm gates and cafes celebrating ocean-to-plate, truffles, hand-made chocolates, pickled olives, kimchi, whisky and cider (this is the Apple Isle). Sample Tarkine Oysters farmed in the pristine wilds of the Tarkine, go on a truffle hunt or pack a picnic Famous-Five style at Mt Gnomon, a rustic spot near Penguin, with majestic views of the Dial Range, a wilderness tract that stretches all the way to Cradle Mountain.
Bruny Island, Tas
Bruny Island might be tiny, but it packs a flavoursome punch. A short ferry ride from Hobart, this foodie hotspot is brimming with passionate producers making everything from artisan cheeses to pork sausages. Begin at Bruny Island Cheese Co., where raw milk cheese toasties pair nicely with honey pale ale. It’s down the road from Get Shucked, the world’s only drive-through oyster shucking shed where fresh oysters are farmed from the waters below. Over on South Bruny, fudge lovers can indulge at Bruny Island Chocolate, or down some Tassie wine at Hotel Bruny, a perfect spot to see migrating whales, seals and dolphins.
Summer is a good time to dive into the lush green countryside of the Barossa. Less than an hour from Adelaide, this award-winning wine region is buzzing with farmers’ markets, gin dens, cellar doors and a thriving farm-to-table scene. Head to Eperosa, the recently crowned James Halliday Wine Companion 2021 Wine Maker of the Year for organic wines. The underground cellar door is a good way to escape the heat. Gin lovers can make their own at Durand Distillery or settle in for a paddle at the Barossa Distilling Company. The Barossa Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail is a self-drive tour taking in some of the Barossa’s best gourmet providores.
Eyre Peninsula, SA
Australia’s seafood frontier makes for an excellent foodie escape. The Southern Ocean brims with southern rock lobster, blue mussels, prawns, squid, oysters and the southern bluefin tuna that’s made many a Port Lincoln resident mega-rich. It’s also home to the Seafood Trail. The four-day guided ‘seafood safari’ traces the rugged coastline from Whyalla to the Head of Bight, with seafood stops aplenty. To taste the sea’s bounty, head to the Fresh Fish Place in Port Lincoln. Oyster Farm Tours is another seafood-fuelled stop. Travellers don dungarees and wade out to the oyster lease for a lesson in shucking and slurping, paired with local wine.