Food and drink in Australia come in many forms and cater for absolutely every single taste out there. Whether you love barbeques or veggie food, through to fruit juice or beer, every Australian town or city will have something for you. There’s also something for anyone backpacking on a budget – as most backpackers in this country certainly will be!
Food in Australia
When in one of the larger Australian cities, such as Melbourne or Sydney, you simply have to think of the type of food you’d like – Thai, Indian, Chinese, Mexican etc – and you’ll be able to find a restaurant somewhere nearby serving it. Of course, there are loads of fast food joints in Australia too, such as Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Burger King, and hungry backpackers will find these a convenient place to stock up on energy. Even smaller towns will have a great variety of different restaurants, but if all else fails, there’s always the traditional pub to fall back on.
Pubs in Australia generally serve hearty grub, without a hearty price tag – although there are some “gastropubs” that serve restaurant quality food in larger cities. In these pubs you’ll find some old favourites – many of which hark back to the British influence in the country – such as meat pies, fish & chips and roast dinners. They can all be washed down with a good bottle of Aussie beer too, or perhaps an award-winning Australian wine…
Lovers of seafood will also be at home in Australia – and why wouldn’t they be, considering the country has a coastline of over 35,000 miles? There’s a multitude of different fish found throughout the oceans of Australia, as well as some fine shellfish (including some of the best lobster you’ll ever taste). There’s also the barramundi as well – it isn’t seen too often, but shouldn’t be missed if seen on the menu. Of course, just like most things, Aussie seafood tastes even better when placed on the barbie…
Talking of barbies, the Aussies love their meat. A summer day can’t possibly pass without the smells of a BBQ rising into the sky, and it doesn’t matter where you are: the beach, the city centre or the middle of the bush – they are all perfect spots for this most traditional of Aussie feasts. You’ll also find every meat imaginable to place on a BBQ, ranging from traditional sausages and beef, through to crocodile, emu and kangaroo. Don’t be shy about tasting new meats, as they really are pretty good when cooked right!
Finally, we come to the vegetarians among you, and the news is good for those staying in larger Australian towns. This is because there are loads of veggie restaurants in places like Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, plus supermarkets and stores are stocked to the brim with fruit and veg. When you get out into more remote areas, vegetarianism isn’t viewed quite so well, but you’ll still be able to grab enough to get by – just expect to be mocked slightly by the locals!
Drinking in Australia
Do you think that the Aussies’ love of drinking is a stereotype? Well think again! There’s no denying the fact that the Aussies do really love a good drink, and they don’t generally need an excuse to crack open a tinny or uncork a bottle of wine on any day of the year.
Beer is pretty much the national drink of Australia, with all kinds of famous brands hailing from here. Perhaps the most popular though is VB, which is seen by some as a national treasure – and it’s the beer you’ll find most Australians drinking. Carlton Draught, Toohey’s and XXXX are other really popular lagers in this part of the world – however Fosters isn’t, and trying to order it will get you laughed at a bit… Don’t ask for a pint either, as the Aussies don’t do pints. Instead, you’ll get a schooner, which is about ¾ of a pint.
Australia’s wine industry has also boomed in recent years, and it is now home to some of the finest vineyards in the world. You’ve probably already tried your fair-share of Australian vino at home, but there’s nothing like supping it in its home country, so get adventurous and sample some of the local bottles. You’ll find every type of wine in Australia, although try to avoid the boxed variety – it’s notorious for being cheap, dirty and solely aimed at people who want to get drunk. Quickly. And who want a massive headache in the morning.
When it comes to buying booze in Australia, the rules are quite stringent and are enforced strongly. Anyone purchasing alcohol must be at least 18 years of age, although anyone under the age of 25 is advised to carry some kind of ID around with them. Drink is the scourge of the Aboriginal population in Australia, so tough rules are needed to protect the vulnerable from alcohol’s harmful effects.
Unlike other countries, such as the USA, service charges are not generally added to the bill in Australia – meaning that tipping is entirely at your discretion. This doesn’t mean you should be stingy though, as tipping for good service is definitely appreciated by the staff at restaurants. It is typical to add about 10% to the bill as a tip, although you can leave more if the service was excellent. Remember that the Aussie way is to generally be laid back though, so don’t mistake this laid back attitude for rudeness.