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8 Classic Australian Dishes You Need to Try

From wild sea snails to bite-size pavlovas and new takes on Vegemite, these are the dishes to feast on during your next trip Down Under.


1. Damper

In the early 19th century, Australian swagmen (transient labourers who often travelled alone in the outback) invented a simple bread made with flour and water that could easily be baked in the coals of a hot fire. Over two century later, damper is finding its way onto restaurant menus across the country. At Attica, chef Ben Shewry pays homage to the bush bread with sour damper: Prepared with native wattleseed and fermented for three days, the dish is topped with hand-picked crab from Western Australia’s Shark Bay.

74 Glen Eira Rd., Ripponlea, Melbourne, 61-3-9530-0111,

Bad Frankie

Photo: Bad Frankie Bar

2. Lamingtons

To say that Australians love these chocolate- and coconut-coated sponge cakes is an understatement; over 8 million lamingtons are consumed in the country every week. Head over to Bad Frankie in Melbourne’s Fitzroy neighbourhood for a taste of the Original Lamington Jaffle. The glorious love child of two of the country’s most beloved snacks (the lamington and the jaffle, a hot pocket-style grilled sandwich) consists of a lamington stuffed with jam and prepared in a jaffle press.

141 Greeves St., Melbourne, 61-3-9078-3866,

3. Fairy bread

With the rise of Instagram-worthy food – we’re looking at you, Unicorn Frappuccino! – it seems that fairy bread has finally found its footing. This simple childhood favourite is made up of a piece of white bread slathered in butter and loaded with rainbow-coloured sprinkles. Instead of crashing a birthday party to get your fix, visit Jethro Canteen in Richmond, where the staff will gladly make it for you using fresh sourdough.

385-389 Burnley St., Melbourne, 61-3-9421-2900,

Crown Hotel

4. Vegemite

The Down Under breakfast staple is spreading far beyond toast. At the Crown hotel in Melbourne, experience chef Ashley Palmer-Watts’ perfect combination of sweet and salty with Vegemite ice cream served over a biscuit base with yeast-salted caramel.

8 Whiteman St., Southbank, Melbourne, 61-3-9292-8888,

Fingermonger’s Wife

5. Barramundi

Native to both fresh and salt water, this white-flesh sea bass is a favourite on menus across Australia, from country pubs to the coast’s best restaurants. Grab a seat at the Fingermonger’s Wife, an award-winning fish ’n’ chips spot in Hawthorne, for a taste of ocean-farmed barramundi from the Northern Territory. Order it grilled or pesto-crumbed with a side of crispy chips.

48 Orchard St., Brisbane, 61-7-3899-5873,

Grampians Estate winery

6. Sparkling shiraz

This uniquely Australian wine style, made using the méthode traditionelle, is the perfect companion to backyard barbecue dinners and soaring summer temperatures. Enjoy it slightly chilled with roasted lamb among friends or make the trip to scenic Great Western in Victoria, region, where the wine is widely produced. Visit Grampians Estate winery for a glass of their highly rated sparkling shiraz, bubbling with refreshing acidity and notes of spices, blackberries and leather.

1477 Western Highway, Great Western, Victoria (2½- hour drive from Melbourne), 61-3-5356-2400,

7. Pavlova

This creamy meringue-based dessert has been central to Australia and New Zealand’s ongoing rivalry. (Both countries claim they invented the dish following the 1926 visit of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.) Not hungry enough for a full serving? BlackStar Pastry, home of Australia’s most-photographed cake, proposes mini bite-size fruit pavlovas to satisfy your craving.

277 Australia St., Newtown, Sydney, 61-2-9557-8656,

Billy Kwong

Photo: Penny Lane

8. Wallaby

With its tender and mild gamey flavour, the kangaroo’s small cousin has earned a spot at some of Australia’s top tables. (Despite their prominence at tourist-trap restaurants, kangaroo and wallaby meat are not regular menu items across the country.) Book a table at Billy Kwong for an Australian-Chinese take on wallaby tail. Sourced from Flinders Island, the braised and caramelized cut is served with stir-fried black beans and red chili peppers.

Shop 1, 28 Macleay St., Potts Point, Sydney, 61-2-9332-3300,