Australian cuisine

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Australian cuisine refers to the food and cooking practices of Australia and its inhabitants. As a modern nation of large-scale immigration, Australia has a unique blend of culinary contributions and adaptations from various cultures around the world, including Indigenous Australians, Asians, Europeans and Pacific Islanders.

Food any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body; form of energy stored in chemical form

Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells to provide energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.

Cooking art of preparing food for consumption with the use of heat

Cooking or cookery is the art, technology, science and craft of preparing food for consumption. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, from grilling food over an open fire to using electric stoves, to baking in various types of ovens, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions and trends. The ways or types of cooking also depend on the skill and type of training an individual cook has. Cooking is done both by people in their own dwellings and by professional cooks and chefs in restaurants and other food establishments. Cooking can also occur through chemical reactions without the presence of heat, such as in ceviche, a traditional South American dish where fish is cooked with the acids in lemon or lime juice.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.


Indigenous Australians have occupied Australia for some 65,000 years, during which they developed a unique hunter-gatherer diet, known as bush tucker, drawn from regional Australian flora and fauna. Australia became a collection of British colonies from 1788 to 1900, during which time culinary tastes were strongly influenced by British and Irish migrants, with agricultural products such as beef cattle, sheep and wheat becoming staples in the local diet. The Australian gold rushes introduced more varied immigrants and cuisines, mainly Chinese, whilst Australia's post-war multicultural immigration program led to a large-scale diversification of local food, particularly under the influence of Mediterranean and East and South Asian Australians. [1]

Indigenous Australians are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before British colonisation. The time of arrival of the first Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers. The earliest conclusively human remains found in Australia are those of Mungo Man LM3 and Mungo Lady, which have been dated to around 50,000 years BP. Recent archaeological evidence from the analysis of charcoal and artefacts revealing human use suggests a date as early as 65,000 BP. Luminescence dating has suggested habitation in Arnhem Land as far back as 60,000 years BP. Genetic research has inferred a date of habitation as early as 80,000 years BP. Other estimates have ranged up to 100,000 years and 125,000 years BP.

A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging. Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on domesticated species.

Bush tucker Food native to Australia and used as sustenance by the original inhabitants, the Aboriginal Australians

Bush tucker, also called bushfood, is any food native to Australia and used as sustenance by the original inhabitants, the Aboriginal Australians, but it can also describe any native fauna or flora used for culinary and/or medicinal purposes, regardless of the continent or culture. Examples of Australian native animal foods (meats) include kangaroo, emu and crocodile. In particular, kangaroo is quite common and can be found in Australian supermarkets, often cheaper than beef. Other animals, for example goanna and witchetty grubs, were eaten by Aboriginal Australians. Fish and shellfish are culinary features of the Australian coastal communities.

Australian cuisine in the 21st century reflects the influence of globalisation, with many fast-food restaurants and international trends becoming influential. Organic and biodynamic foods have also become widely available alongside a revival of interest in bushfood. [2] Australia has become famous for the high quality of its exports, with major agricultural industries including cattle and calves, wheat, fruit and nuts, vegetables, milk, sheep and lambs (for meat and wool), poultry, barley, canola. [3] The country is also well regarded for its locally-made wine, beer and soft drinks.

Globalization or globalisation is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide. As a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, globalization is considered by some as a form of capitalist expansion which entails the integration of local and national economies into a global, unregulated market economy. Globalization has grown due to advances in transportation and communication technology. With the increased global interactions comes the growth of international trade, ideas, and culture. Globalization is primarily an economic process of interaction and integration that's associated with social and cultural aspects. However, conflicts and diplomacy are also large parts of the history of globalization, and modern globalization.

Organic food foods produced without synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers

Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming, in general, features practices that cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations regulating organic products may restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers in the farming methods used to produce such products. In general, organic foods are also usually not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or synthetic food additives.

Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but it includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). Initially developed in 1924, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.

While fast food chains are abundant, Australia's metropolitan areas have famed haute cuisine and nouvelle cuisine establishments that offer both local and international foods. Restaurants whose product includes contemporary adaptations, interpretations or fusions of exotic influences are frequently termed Modern Australian. [4]

<i>Haute cuisine</i>

Haute cuisine or grande cuisine refers to the cuisine of "high-level" establishments, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels. Haute cuisine is characterized by meticulous preparation and careful presentation of food, at a high price level.

<i>Nouvelle cuisine</i>

Nouvelle cuisine is an approach to cooking and food presentation in French cuisine. In contrast to cuisine classique, an older form of haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine is characterized by lighter, more delicate dishes and an increased emphasis on presentation. It was popularized in the 1960s by the food critics Henri Gault, who invented the phrase, and his colleagues André Gayot and Christian Millau in a new restaurant guide, the Gault-Millau, or Le Nouveau Guide.

Restaurant single establishment which prepares and serves food

A restaurant, or an eatery, is a business which prepares and serves food and drinks to customers in exchange for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services, and some offer only take-out and delivery. Restaurants vary greatly in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models ranging from inexpensive fast food restaurants and cafeterias to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments.

Indigenous Australian bush food

Bush tucker (bushfoods) harvested at Alice Springs Desert Park. Australian bush tucker, Alice Springs.jpg
Bush tucker (bushfoods) harvested at Alice Springs Desert Park.

Indigenous Australians have lived off the often unique native flora and fauna of the Australian bush for over 60,000 years. [5] In modern times, this collection of foods and customs has become known as bush tucker.

It is understood that up to 5,000 species of Australian flora and fauna were eaten by Indigenous Australians. [6] Hunting of kangaroo, wallaby and emu was common, [7] with other foods widely consumed including bogong moths, witchetty grubs, lizards and snakes. [8] Bush berries, fruits, and honeys were also used. [1] Fish were caught using technologies such as spears, hooks and traps. [9]

Kangaroo сommon name of family of marsupials

The kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae. In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, especially those of the genus Macropus: the red kangaroo, antilopine kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, and western grey kangaroo. Kangaroos are indigenous to Australia. The Australian government estimates that 34.3 million kangaroos lived within the commercial harvest areas of Australia in 2011, up from 25.1 million one year earlier.

A wallaby is a small- or mid-sized macropod native to Australia and New Guinea, with introduced populations in New Zealand, UK and other countries. They belong to the same taxonomic family as kangaroos and sometimes the same genus, but kangaroos are specifically categorised into the six largest species of the family. The term wallaby is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or wallaroo that has not been designated otherwise.

Emu Large flightless bird endemic to Australia

The emu is the second-largest living bird by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. The emu's range covers most of mainland Australia, but the Tasmanian, Kangaroo Island and King Island subspecies became extinct after the European settlement of Australia in 1788. The bird is sufficiently common for it to be rated as a least-concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Resource availability and dietary make-up varied from region to region and scientific theories of bush tucker plants being spread by hand have recently emerged. [10] Food preparation techniques also varied, however a common cooking technique was for the carcass to be thrown directly on a campfire to be roasted. [11]

Native food sources were used to supplement the colonists' diet following the arrival of the First Fleet in Botany Bay in 1788. [12] [13]

Development of modern Australian cuisine

Chinatown, Melbourne. Multiculturalism has contributed to the development of a diverse local cuisine in Australia. China Town.JPG
Chinatown, Melbourne. Multiculturalism has contributed to the development of a diverse local cuisine in Australia.

Following the pre-colonial period, British colonisers began arriving with the First Fleet of ships at Sydney harbour in 1788. [14] The diet consisted of "bread, salted meat, and tea, with lashings of rum (from the West Indies, but which was later made from the waste cane of the sugar industry in Queensland)." [15] The British found familiar game in Australia including swan, goose, pigeon and fish, but the new settlers often had difficulty adjusting to the prospect of native fauna as a staple diet. [1]

After initial difficulties, Australian agriculture became a major global producer and supplied an abundance of fresh produce for the local market. Stock grazing (mostly sheep and cattle) are prevalent throughout the continent. Queensland and New South Wales became Australia's main beef cattle producers, while dairy cattle farming is found in the southern states, predominantly in Victoria. Wheat and other grain crops are spread fairly evenly throughout the mainland states. Sugar cane is also a major crop in Queensland and New South Wales. Fruit and vegetables are grown throughout Australia [16] and wheat is a main component of the Australian diet. [17] Today there are over 85,681 farm businesses in Australia, 99 percent of which are locally owned and operated. [18]

Barbecued meat is ubiquitous with Modern Australian cuisine, though it is estimated that more than 10% of Australians are now vegetarian. [19] [20]


A traditional billycan on a campfire, used to heat water. Billycan-campfire.jpg
A traditional billycan on a campfire, used to heat water.

Billy tea is the drink prepared by the ill-fated swagman in the popular Australian folksong "Waltzing Matilda". Boiling water for tea over a camp fire and adding a gum leaf for flavouring remains an iconic traditional Australian method for preparing tea, which was a staple drink of the Australian colonial period. [1]

The nation also has a longstanding dairy industry (virtually from colonisation) and today produces a wide variety of cheeses, yoghurts, milk, cream, and butter products. Australians are high consumers of dairy products, consuming (on average) some 102.4 L of milk per person a year (in part is due to its quality-coffee culture), 12.9 kg of cheese, 3.8 kg of butter (a small reduction from previous year, largely for dietary purposes) and 7.1 kg of yoghurt products. [21]

The chocolate and malt powder Milo, which was developed by Thomas Mayne in Sydney in 1934 in response to the Great Depression, is mixed with milk to produce a popular beverage. In recent years, Milo has been exported and is also commonly consumed in Southeast Asia even becoming a major ingredient in some desserts produced in the region. [22]


Penfolds Grange, 1999, an Australian wine PenfoldsGrange.jpg
Penfolds Grange, 1999, an Australian wine
Six Australian beers. XXXX Gold was Australia's top-selling beer by volume in 2012. Cairns Australia Beer Run.jpg
Six Australian beers. XXXX Gold was Australia's top-selling beer by volume in 2012.

The Australian wine Industry is the fifth largest exporter of wine around the world, with 760 million litres a year to a large international export market and contributes $5.5 billion per annum to the nation's economy. Australians consume over 530 million litres annually with a per capita consumption of about 30 litres – 50% white table wine, 35% red table wine. [23] Wine is produced in every state, with more than 60 designated wine regions totalling approximately 160,000 hectares. Australia's wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country, in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia. Amongst the most famous wine districts are the Hunter Region, Margaret River, Yarra Valley, and Barossa Valley and among the best known wine producers are Penfolds, Rosemount Estate, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Lindeman's. [24]

Beer in Australia has been popular since colonial times. James Squire is considered to have founded Australia's first commercial brewery in 1798 and the Cascade Brewery in Hobart, Tasmania, has been operating since the early 19th century. Since the 1970s, Australian beers have become increasingly popular globally - with Fosters lager being an iconic export brand. However, Fosters is not a large seller on the local market, with alternatives such as Victoria Bitter & Carlton Draught outselling the popular export. Craft beer is popular, as well as distinctive products from smaller breweries such as Coopers and Little Creatures. [25]

Rum served as a currency during the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Australia when metallic currency was in short supply. [26]


A flat white with latte art. Flat White Coffee.png
A flat white with latte art.

Australia has a distinct coffee culture. The coffee industry has grown from independent cafés since the early 20th century. The flat white first became popular in Australia, and its invention is claimed by a Sydneysider. [27] [28]

The iconic Greek cafés of Sydney and Melbourne were the first to introduce locally roasted coffees in 1910. In 1952, the first espresso machines began to appear in Australia and a plethora of fine Italian coffee houses were emerging in Melbourne and Sydney. Pelligrini's Espresso Bar and Legend Café often lay claim to being Melbourne's first ‘real’ espresso bars, opening their doors in 1954 and 1956 respectively. This decade also saw the establishment of one of Australia's most iconic coffee brands, Vittoria, which remains the country's largest coffee maker and distributor. The brand has existed in Australia since 1958, well before it moved to the US. [29]

Although Australians often drink tea at home, it has been found that in out-of-home establishments where tea and coffee are sold together, tea accounted for only 2.5% of total sales. To this day, coffee chains such as Starbucks have very little market share in Australia, with other homegrown franchises such as Hudsons Coffee and Gloria Jean's Coffees also contributing to the smaller coffee chain market share. One reason for this is that unlike in the United States and Asia, Australia already had a developed coffee culture for many decades before coffee chains came to the market. [30]


A Granny Smith apple Granny smith and cross section.jpg
A Granny Smith apple

There are many species of Australian native fruits, such as Quandong (native peach), Wattleseed, Muntries / Munthari berry, Illawarra plums, Riberry, Native Raspberries and Lilli pillies. [31] These usually fall under the category of "bush tucker", (bush foods), which are used more commonly in restaurants and used in commercial preserves and pickles but are not generally well known to Australians due to low availability.

Australia also has large fruit growing regions in most states for tropical fruits in the north, stone fruits and temperate fruits in the south which has a mediterranean or temperate climate. The Granny Smith variety of apples first originated in Sydney, Australia in 1868. [32] Another well-known Australian apple variety is the Cripps Pink, known locally and internationally as "Pink Lady" apples, which was first cultivated in 1973.

Fruits cultivated and consumed in Australia include: apples, banana, kiwi fruit, oranges and other citrus, mangoes (seasonally), mandarin, stonefruit, avocado, watermelons, rockmelons, lychees, pears, nectarines, plums, apricots, grapes, melons, papaya (also called pawpaw), pineapple, passionfruit and berries (strawberries, raspberries etc.). [33]


Kangaroo meat found in restaurants, supermarkets or butchers Kangaroo meat supermarket.JPG
Kangaroo meat found in restaurants, supermarkets or butchers

Kangaroo, emu and crocodile meat is available in Australia, although it is not among the most commonly eaten meats. In colonial recipes, kangaroo was treated much like ox tail, and braised until tender forming a rich gravy. It is available today in various cuts and sausages. [34] [35]

Sheep grazing in rural Australia. Early British settlers introduced Western stock and crops Sheep eating grass edit02.jpg
Sheep grazing in rural Australia. Early British settlers introduced Western stock and crops

Lamb is very popular in Australia, with roasting cuts (legs and shoulders), chops, and shanks being the most common cuts. Lamb will often form part of either a Sunday roast or a barbecue. It is also commonly found as an ingredient in doner kebabs, a dish of Turkish origin that has been popular in Australia since the 1970s. Australia consumes more sheep meat than any other country listed by the OECD-FAO (with Kazakhstan in second place). In 2017, Australians consumed an average of 8.5 kilograms (19 lb) per person. By way of comparison, New Zealanders average 3.2 kilograms (7.1 lb) and Americans just 0.4 kilograms (0.88 lb). [36]

Fish and Seafood

Seafood consumption is increasing, but it is less common in the Australian diet than poultry and beef. [17]

The most common species of the aquaculture industry are: salmonids, tuna, edible oysters, pearl oysters and prawns. Other species include: abalone, freshwater finfish (such as barramundi, Murray cod, silver perch), brackish water or marine finfish (such as barramundi, snapper, yellowtail kingfish, mulloway, groupers), mussels, ornamental fish, marine sponges, mud crab and sea cucumber. [37]

While inland river and lake systems are relatively sparse, they nevertheless provide some unique fresh water game fish and crustacea suitable for dining. Fishing and aquaculture constitute Australia's fifth most valuable agricultural industry after wool, beef, wheat and dairy. [38] Approximately 600 varieties of marine and freshwater seafood species are caught and sold in Australia for both local and overseas consumption.

Typical serving of fish and chips Fish and Chips Ocean Foods Drummoyne.jpg
Typical serving of fish and chips
Confit of Tasmanian ocean trout Tetsuyas-Ocean-Trout.jpg
Confit of Tasmanian ocean trout

Australian cuisine features Australian seafood such as: southern bluefin tuna, King George whiting, Moreton Bay bug, mud crab, jewfish, dhufish (Western Australia) and yabby. Australia is one of the largest producers of abalone and rock lobster.

Fish and chips is a take-away food that originated in the United Kingdom and remains popular in Australia. [39] It generally consists of deep-fried fish (often flake rather than cod in Australia) batter with deep-fried chipped (slab-cut) potatoes. Flathead is also popular sport and table fish found in all parts of Australia. Barramundi is a fish found in northern Australian river systems.


In the temperate regions of Australia vegetables are traditionally eaten seasonally, especially in regional areas, although in urban areas there is large scale importation of fresh produce sourced from around the world by supermarkets and wholesalers for grocery stores, to meet demands for year-round availability. During Spring: Artichoke, Asparagus, Bean shoots, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Leek, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Peas, Rhubarb, and Spinach. During Summer: Capsicum, Cucumber, Eggplant, Squash, Tomato, and Zucchini. [40]

Iconic foods

ANZAC biscuits.JPG
ANZAC biscuits, made without coconut
Christmas pavlova.jpg
A pavlova garnished with pomegranates and cream
Damper (food) (cropped).jpg
Damper (soda bread) being cooked over hot coals.
Vegemiteontoast large.jpg
Vegemite on toast
Iconic Australian foods

Iconic Australian foods include ANZAC biscuits, lamingtons, Tim Tams, fairy bread and Vegemite, a vitamin-rich, savoury brewers yeast which is spread on toasted bread. [41] [42] Another iconic dish is pavlova but the origins of this mergingue-based cake are contested, with New Zealand also laying claim to its invention. [43] [44]

Damper is a traditional Australian soda bread prepared by swagmen, drovers and other travellers. It is a wheat flour based bread, traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire.

The Australian hamburger consists of a fried beef patty, served with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato in a (usually toasted) bread roll. Tomato sauce (similar to ketchup but made with less sugar with a more liquid texture) or barbecue sauce are almost always included. Beetroot and fried onions are also common additions, and sometimes sliced pineapple. Other frequently-served hamburger options are bacon, fried egg and cheese. Pickles are rarely included, except in burgers from American chains. [45]

Regional iconic foods

As well as national icons there are many regional iconic foods. [46] South Australia has pasties - based on cornish pasties, fruchocs, King George Whiting, and a range of food of German origin including metwurst, beesting, kuchen streusel (German cake) [47] and fritz. The state has its own iconic brands such as Farmers Union Iced Coffee, YoYo biscuits, Balfours Frog Cakes. Jubilee cake remains a specialty of South Australia and Mildura, Victoria. [48] Victoria is also famous for its home-grown Melbourne invention, the dim sim. [49] Tasmania has leatherwood honey and abalone. [50] Queensland has Weis Fruit Bar and claims the lamington. [51]

See also

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Further reading