According to Australian foodies, the cuisine in Australia is a unique blend of culinary adaptations and contributions from different cultures around the world. These include Indigenous, European, British, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures just to name a few. Australian traditional food, therefore, is a diversity of cuisine that the people have tweaked to make their own.
Australia is a popular destination with vibrant cities, beautiful coastlines, vast landscapes, and a hub of different nationalities. Besides visiting famous beaches, like Bells Beach, trying out local food is a big aspect of any holiday.
Whether you’re visiting for the first time, showing friends around or looking to expand your horizons, Australia offers plenty of food options to suit different palates.
The following five dishes are the Australian traditional food dishes that you shouldn’t miss sampling while visiting the country. You will find them all over, from the Great Ocean Road to metropolitan cities like Sydney or Melbourne.
5 Australian Traditional Food to Try
Believed to date back to 1891 and consumed in millions each year, meat pies are regarded as Australia’s national food. Ideal for football and cricket matches, outdoor events, or as a takeaway snack, these classic hand-sized pies are made with a shortcrust base and rich minced meat gravy.
They are Australia’s answer to the American burger, delicious, meaty and can be eaten by hand or with fork and knife. Gourmet versions with mashed potatoes and peas are also popular, and often served in restaurants
The journey of Australian foodies would not be complete without a taste of Vegemite, considered the country’s most iconic spread. It was first made in 1922 when Fred Walker asked a chemist to develop a different version of British Marmite using rich natural sources of the vitamin B group. It rapidly became popular with Australian soldiers during WW2.
Today, vegemite sells over 20 million jars each year and is loved in Australia and overseas. Try it on crackers or toast with butter, avocado, or cheese slices. It can also add flavor to meat pies, and soup stocks. It supposedly helps promote brain functionality, reduce fatigue, stress, anxiety, and risk of heart disease. It is known as an acquired taste, so be frugal when spreading it the first time.
Considered one of the most popular Australian desserts, pavlova is made with meringue, cream, and fresh fruit. While its origins are debatable, what’s certain is that it is one of the most delicious desserts one can try in Australia.
Initially called a “cream cake,” it got its current name in the 1920s to honor the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who visited Australasia and New Zealand at that time. It’s made with a crisp meringue crust from slowly baked egg whites with a soft, light marshmallow texture inside, and finished with fresh whipped cream and fruit. Kiwi fruit, passion fruit and strawberries are often used.
Pavlova is a popular dessert in Australia and New Zealand, but the creator has been a source of debate between the two countries for many years. This dish forms an integral part of the national cuisine of Australia and New Zealand, and is frequently served on holidays, for celebratory meals and in the summer.
On April 25 each year, Australians, New Zealanders, and associated regions like the Cook Islands and Samoa celebrate ANZAC Day to commemorate the lives sacrificed during WW1. Parades, commemorations, and special ceremonies were held, and one of the traditions on this day is eating ANZAC biscuits.
ANZAC is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC biscuits were prepared by the wives and mothers of soldiers sent off to war. They were easy to prepare and didn’t contain eggs which meant they kept for long periods of time.
Original biscuits were not sweet; they were rather savory hardtack biscuits known as ANZAC tiles or wafers and used to substitute for bread. Today, ANZAC biscuits are sold commercially and used for fundraising activities when Australians celebrate. Their origins are still contested today (similarly to pavlova) with both Australia and New Zealand claiming to have invented the ANZAC biscuit.
Avocado on Toast
Australians love avocado on toast for its creamy taste and health benefits. It’s rare to visit a café that doesn’t serve smashed “avo” on toast. They are usually prepared with salt and pepper, lemon, feta or goat cheese and a poached egg on top. Considered natural butter, avocados will go with just about anything.
For a real Australian experience try avo on toast at home with vegemite. Toast your bread, spread butter and vegemite, and top up with avocado. Eat with your favorite coffee or shake.
No matter what your preferences are, there are many ways to enjoy the Australian traditional food mentioned here. With a history that comprises migration, it is one place where everything comes together in a melting pot. Over the years, Australia’s cuisines have been influenced by people arriving on its shores, and that reflects on the complexity and beauty of a multicultural nation with delicious food. Visit any part of the country and you are bound to find some delicacy worth trying.
About the Author
Josiel is of the Great Ocean Road Collective, a website dedicated to sharing the beauty of the Great Ocean Road in Australia with travelers far and wide. If you’re planning a trip, need some inspiration or are looking for authentic advice on Aussie travel, visit their website or check them out on Instagram.