Australia has some of the most relaxed, down-to-Earth people I have ever met. I spent a month in Australia exploring, camping, and volunteering in different conservation projects. The land is absolutely breathtaking, and the wildlife is a force to be reckoned with.
I never realized that Australia is similar in size to the United States. Therefore, I only spent time on the east coast. Here are my suggestions for an east coast trip Down Under, along with the foods you should try.
All pictures are © The Baking Tour Guide. All rights reserved.
Where to Go: (On the East Coast)
Take a stop at the Australia Zoo in
The zoo’s success is thanks to the one and only Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.
You should then head somewhere that you can see the Great Barrier Reef. I went to North Keppel Island, part of Keppel Bay Islands National Park, to snorkel in the reef. You must travel to the island by boat, but it’s definitely worth the trip. The island is covered in hills, cliffs, and sandy beaches.
Vegetation and wildlife span the land, and, of course, the water.
Snorkeling along the reef is almost indescribable. Just think of the gloriously animated Finding Nemo, but with real fish and marine life. Can you see it now?
The picture on the right was one of the only colorful pictures my friend and I could get, because the reef of Keppel has started to bleach. Bleaching happens when coral expels its algae after becoming stressed from changes in light, temperature, and nutrients. If you get a chance to view the Reef, please take time to appreciate this wonder of the world, and contribute to sustaining its environment. Its beauty is exceptional, but its wildlife is endangered.
Head to Fraser Island, the only place on Earth where tall rainforests grow on sand. You will get to see beautiful beaches and colorful sandy dunes. I suggest that you avoid going into the water, unless you find yourself at one of the lakes. The ocean there is filled with sharks and jellyfish. There are also leeches around the rainforests, and dingoes running along the beaches. The lakes, however, are safe! Lake McKenzie’s sand is so exfoliating that you can even shine your jewelry with it. Spend a few days at Fraser Island. You won’t want to miss anything!
One of the most fascinating parts of Fraser Island is the Pinnacles. There are over 72 colors of sand flowing around these dunes, but you have to dig for it! The area is sacred to the Aboriginal Butchulla People, who believe that only women are allowed to roam the grounds. They think the Rainbow Serpent is the reason for the color formations.
The story says that Wuru, an aboriginal who was promised to an older man, Winyer, fell in love with Wiberigan (the rainbow man). Winyer found Wuru alone one day, and was so jealous that he threw a boomerang toward her. Wiberigan jumped in from of the boomerang, and smashed the rainbow into pieces that poured over the Pinnacles. Since Wuru was unharmed, the Butchulla tribe believes that the colored sand is good luck.
The Pinnacles was a site that I could never forget. If you have a chance to tour Fraser Island, you have to visit those dunes.
Now it’s time for some city life again. Take a day or two to tour around Brisbane. Brisbane is a large, modern city, as well as the capital of Queensland.
Brisbane is home to science and art museums, cute little shops and restaurants, and fun nightlife. The Brisbane Botanic Gardens are locating on Mt. Coot-ha, exhibiting glorious views of the city itself.
Head to Byron Bay next. It’s filled with beautiful beaches and a giant lighthouse. It is also home to the most easterly point of the Australia mainland. When I looked into the ocean from that point, I saw a giant pod of dolphins. It was magical.
No matter where you go in Australia, you have to learn how to surf. Even if you already know how to surf, you’ll want to take a few days out of your trip to spend some time riding the waves. I had the most amazing surf instructors. I learned how to stand on a board in a tea tree lake. I also surfed next to dolphins and sea turtles. Where else can you get that kind of experience?
Next, head to the Blue Mountains to see the Three Sisters, a massive rock formation that represents an Aboriginal legend in which three sisters were turned into stone. You can read about more the legend at this site.
Last but not least, you have to head to Sydney. It’s pictured at the beginning of this page. Sydney is one of Australia’s largest cities. It’s known for its famous Opera House, which has a sailboat-like design. You can walk the 6,000 steps across the Harbour Bridge, smell the flowers in the Royal Botanic Garden, or check out the waterside of Darling Harbour or Circular Quay.
I saw a show inside the Opera House. It was such a treat, and a true gift.
Now, let’s get to eating!
A lot of the food that I ate in Australia was similar to that of New Zealand. However, there were a few key differences that you should check out.
Have you heard of that quintessential Australian condiment called Vegemite? Vegemite is a food paste that is dark brown in color. It’s made from brewers’ yeast extract and spices. Before I went to Australia, I thought everyone ate Vegemite straight out of the jar. It turns out, I was completely wrong about that. Many Australians use Vegemite as a salty spread on bread, toast, crumpets, crackers, etc. Then they put jam or cheese on top of the Vegemite. Vegemite adds body and mouthfeel to any “regular” condiment. Once I tried Vegemite in this manner, I didn’t mind it as much anymore. However, I’m not a huge fan of salty foods, so Vegemite isn’t my condiment of choice.
It took me an entire 3 weeks to find a restaurant that served this next food. Can you guess what it is?
That’s right, you heard me. Although I love the cute, hopping animals, a part of me wanted to know how they tasted. Don’t knock it until you try it., because it’s delicious. Kangaroo tastes like a lean steak, and it is as tender as can be when cooked correctly.
There is some controversy as to whether kangaroo is a sustainable food. Most people will tell you yes, because they have become “pests” in Australia, like deer in the United States. However, they do not produce as much greenhouse gas as typical meat products, like cows. I don’t think I would eat kangaroo all the time if I was in Australia, but it definitely makes for a tasty meal every once in a while.
In my New Zealand post, I gave a sneak peak of both ginger beer and Tim Tams. I’ll be honest with you- before I went to Australia, I had no idea that ginger beer existed. Now I see it everywhere, maybe because I was never actively looking for it before. However, the Bundaberg brand is common in Australia, so be sure to check that out.
Tim Tams, however, are a rare site in the United States. Tim Tams are chocolate biscuit cookies with a cream filling and a chocolate coating. They are unique because they taste equally as good when they are in their natural biscuit form or softened by a warm beverage.
I’m not talking about dunking the cookie into something like coffee. I’m referring to the one and only, Tim Tam Slam. The Tim Tam Slam converts the cookie into a straw. Opposite corners of the cookie are bitten off (only a small bite is needed), and one of those corners is submerged into a hot beverage. Suck the beverage through the cookie until the biscuit softens, then immediately shove the entire cookie in your mouth. The taste of ooey, gooey, delicious chocolate will flood your senses.
If you’re in need of a salt fix after eating an entire sleeve of Tim Tams, then try some crocodile or emu jerky. I don’t particularly like jerky, but I couldn’t find a restaurant that served either of those ingredients. I would recommend finding a place that sells the meat, but the jerky was a good alternative in the meantime.
I hope you can find some new, exciting food adventures through this post. Safe travels to the land down under!