Here is one thing you’ll learn for sure when you’re studying abroad in Australia: Vegemite is not the national dish. Yes, most natives do enjoy the stuff (a spread of yeast-extract) smeared on their breakfast toast, but the influence of Asian and European immigrants (and the culinary use of the country’s own native edibles) means a lot more than vegemite will cross your plate if you’re volunteering, working, or studying in Australia.
In Melbourne, the Greek and Italian immigrants left a legacy of pasta and pastries; in Darwin, Northern Territory, sushi and udon noodles are a reminder of the town’s Japanese settlers. And no matter where you go, sausage rolls reign supreme.
Here are a few other types of tucker (or food, in Aussie-speak) that you should try if you’ll be in Australia for study abroad, volunteering, working, or just traveling around:
Australians love good coffee. Especially in the city, you’ll find an espresso machine in every other building. The flat white is an espresso drink with foamy milk, a cross between a latte and a cappuccino.
Cattle ranches cover as much of the country as its dry, central lands and harsh climate will allow. Beef, typically in the form of steak or meat pie, is a source of national pride. For the top taste in cow, order Australian Certified Angus.
Rumor has it there are more kangaroos in central Australia than any other stock animal. Not too chewy, not too gamey, it’s a meat that is growing in popularity and can be found on many restaurant menus.
Hunter Valley Shiraz
South Australia is known internationally for its wines. Called a syrah in other countries, the shiraz (a red varietal) from the Hunter Valley is arguably one of the most flavorful you can drink.
Granny Smith Apples
This crisp, golden apple variety originated in Sydney.
Bundaberg Ginger Beer
No alcohol goes into this ginger-flavored fizzy drink. It enjoys so much popularity in Australia that the company now exports to more than 30 other countries.
Take one of these cakes with your morning coffee. Coated in chocolate and coconut, these sponge cakes are named after a former governor of Queensland.
Take note: like many things, the originality of this desert is contested by Australia and New Zealand. Though most sources now believe the meringue-based treat was first created in Australia’s “little brother” to the East, be careful with whom you share that opinion. In Australia, it’s still Australian, and worthily delicious.
Named after the Australia and New Zealand Army Corp, these oat cookies are usually seen around April 25, ANZAC Day. Originally made by wives and daughters and sent in care packages to ANZAC soldiers, the biscuits continue to commemorate the men who fought in World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli, in Italy.
It’s not quite an original Aussie dish, but this English colonial meal of roasted meat and vegetables is a weekly staple. Many restaurants and pubs feature the Sunday specialty with lamb or beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and whatever else is in season.
While seafood is prevalent along the coasts, this river fish is found all over the country. Often fried, it’s also commonly served with a topping of sauce and shrimp.
Beetroot & Egg
Though Australia can’t claim either of these, their combination and addition to any dish garners it the name “Aussie style.” Pizza, burger, pie, toastie, you name it and you can add beetroot and egg.