Food in Australia

Thanks to our multicultural society you can find almost any variety of food that you fancy in Australia. Migrants from all over the world have immigrated to Australia and brought their culinary traditions with them. Australia has an abundance of fresh food all year round.

Eating out is a popular pastime in Australia and we have a huge choice of fabulous restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars in our cities and towns.  In addition to speciality restaurants in a variety of cuisines such as Chinese, Thai, Japanese, French, African, Greek, Turkish, Italian, Mexican (the list goes on) many Australian chefs are renowned worldwide for ‘fusion’ cuisine which brings together European cooking styles with Asian flavours.

Does Australia have its own cuisine?

The Aboriginal peoples of Australia, Australia’s first inhabitants, have for thousands and thousands of years hunted and gathered their food in the Australian bush. This food is known as ‘Bush tucker’ and is still eaten today by Aboriginal peoples in remote areas of Australia. Bush tucker includes kangaroo, emu, crocodile, witchetty grubs, Quandong, bush tomato, yams and macadamia nuts. Many of these native foods have been incorporated into contemporary cuisines and you will occasionally find these ingredients on the menu of restaurants and cafés in Australian cities.

Iconic Australian foods

You are likely to come across these iconic Australian foods when you move to Australia:

  • Vegemite – sadly not an Australian owned company anymore, this thick dark brown yeast spread is a great source of vitamin B and is adored by many Australians.  Australian children have it ‘for breakfast, lunch and tea’ according to the ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle of 1954.
  • Chiko roll – these spring roll like deep fried snacks can be found in convenience stores and fish & chip shops across Australia
  • Tim Tams – made by Arnotts the Tim Tam is probably Australia’s favourite chocolate biscuit, it’s impossible to have just one!
  • Lamingtons - invented in Australia they are essentially squares of sponge which have been dipped in chocolate and coconut.
  • ANZAC biscuits - crunchy cookies made of rolled oats, golden syrup and desiccated coconut named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
  • Pavlova - An Aussie BBQ for some is not complete without a Pavlova for dessert. Although the origins of the Pavlova are unclear Australians like to claim it as their own. It was created for the ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured Australia in the 1920s.
  • Weetbix – you can’t really get more Australian than these wheat biscuits eaten for breakfast which are endorsed by the Australian Cricket Team (Cricket being Australia’s national sport)
  • Meat pies & sausage rolls – an Aussie staple sold at football matches and bakeries across the nation
  • Damper – you may hear of this traditional bread but it is rarely eaten by most Aussies
  • Fish & Chips – a popular food to eat on the beach
  • Hamburger with ‘the lot’ – despite the invasion of American Hamburger food chains you can still get a traditional Aussie hamburger with the lot – it’s a massive mouthful of meat, tomato, bacon, pineapple, beetroot, egg and lettuce
  • Shrimp on the barbie – referred to in a famous television ad by the Australian Tourism Commission in the mid-80s to appeal to the American market, however the word ‘shrimp’ is not commonly used in Australia. Instead Aussies like to cook ‘prawns’ on the BBQ or ‘Surf & Turf’ which is a fish and meat combination dish
  • The sausage or ‘snag’ – is a nod to our British heritage and a constant BBQ favourite. Snags are often put into a piece of bread with onions and tomato sauce. The ‘sausage sizzle’ stall is a typical fixture at markets, hardware stores, sporting events, or any other public events on weekends.  
  • Barramundi – is a popular Australian fish variety.  Australia’s clean waters produce an abundance of seafood. Seafood restaurants are common and popular as the vast majority of Australia’s population lives near the coast.

Australian Eating Habits

Australians tend to eat three meals a day:

  • Breakfast – eaten in the morning is either light and cold (cereal, toast, coffee) or heavy and hot (bacon, eggs, sausages, fried tomato)
  • Lunch – eaten around 12 – 2pm is usually a light meal such as a sandwich, or salad. However, with the vast array of choices available now Australians are just as likely to have curry, noodles, sushi or pizza for lunch
  • Dinner – the main meal of the day is eaten in the evening

Australians love to eat outdoors. A BBQ or picnic is a typical ‘Aussie’ way to enjoy a weekend meal.  Most homes have a BBQ and BBQs are readily available in parks and beaches.

While meat is a core part of the Australian diet due to Australia’s strong agricultural economy, more and more vegetarian eating habits are becoming common in Australia. You will almost always find a vegetarian option on any restaurant or café menu in Australia.

Increasingly specific dietary requirements such as Kosher, Halal, Gluten free, and Vegan are being catered for in supermarkets, restaurants and cafes.

This article covers general information about Food in Australia. Please use it as a guide only.