A Food Lover's Guide To Australia's Northern Territory
The sacred rock of Uluru against red desert landscapes may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Northern Territory (NT), but at the heart of the country’s Red Centre lies an aboriginal culinary culture, known as bush tucker (bushfood), that awaits to be discovered by the world. From local bush food tasting to fine dining under the stars on a sand dune, the Australian native food experience will tantalise your taste buds in expected ways.
Start the day at… Field Of Light
Sip on coffee as you sit at the dune top while the dawn illuminates Uluru against the backdrop of the Field Of Light, an installation of 50,000 handcrafted stems of light glistening softly across the desert plain in a rhythmic spectrum of ochre, deep violet, blue and gentle white.
Alternatively, opt for a camel or helicopter ride to arrive at the dune top for magnificent views of Uluru at sunset, where an award-winning “Sounds Of Silence” gourmet dinner featuring an exclusive three-course bush tucker menu, which offers extotic meat options including kangaroo and crocodile, is served under the starry outback sky—a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed.
Field of Light, 177 Yulara Dr, Yulara, Northern Territory, Australia; +61 2 8296 8010
For a contemporary take on cuisine, head to... Pee Wee's at the Point
A favourite among Darwin locals and travellers alike, the oceanfront fine dining venue serves up modern Territorian cuisine at a gorgeous setting with sweeping views of Fannie Bay. Inspired by indigenous ingredients, the Fannie Bay Iced Tea made with local green ant infused gin makes the perfect sundowner as you sit back on the couch watching the sun sets on the horizon.
The menu is designed to showcase the produce, climate and multiculturalism of the NT and the Top End (the northernmost section of the region). The NT Assiette is a highlight that features paspaley pearl meat sashimi, Geraldton wax and Davidson plum powder, which brings together a medley of flavours native to Australia presented in a modern plating.
Pee Wee's at the Point, Alec Fong Lim Drive, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia; +61 8 8981 6868
For a true local flavour, head to... Anbangbang Billabong
To experience the aboriginal culture up close, meet Patsy Raglan, one of the few Australian aboriginal women who has lived without contact or assistance from non-aboriginals. The traditional ‘cook-up’ tour begins with foraging with Patsy in the bush of Anbangbang Billabong, where she will point out different kinds of bush tucker and share her knowledge along the way, followed by a cooking session using the kunkerri, or ground oven, where the food is covered in layers of paperbark and and buried in the earth. The result? An authentic slow-cooked meal that tastes the same as how it would taste 60,000 years ago.
Animal Tracks, Cooinda Lodge Kakadu, Northern Territory, Australia; +61 4 2967 6194
See also: A Food Lover’s Guide To The Faroe Islands
Go splurge at… Tali Wiru
It may be hard to imagine fine dining on a remote sand dune, but Voyages Ayers Rock Resort make it possible with premium offerings of bush tucker prepared in the middle of the desert. The Tali Wiru (meaning beautiful dune in local Pitjantjatjara language) four-hour experience begins with champagne and canapes inspired by native ingredients, including green ant gin and tonic, kangaroo and quandong pie, crispy emu and pickled emu apple and crocodile skin, to be enjoyed as the sun sets over Uluru accompanied by a didgeridoo performance.
As night falls, guests are invited to stroll to the top of the dune for an exclusive four-course dinner infused with native ingredients inspired by the landscape. Foraged daily by the Tali Wiru chefs, each dish is constructed to respect and put a spotlight on ancient indigenous flavours using modern cooking techniques. Must-try items include pressed wallaby with fermented quandong, pan roasted Glacier 51 toothfish and the decadent ‘Texture of Chocolate’ made with Davidson plum, lemon myrtle and quandong.
Tali Wiru, 175 Yulara Dr, Yulara NT 0872, Australia, +61 2 8296 8010
Join the festivities at A Taste of Kakadu
One of Australia’s most celebrated food festivals, A Taste of Kakadu returns from May 10 to 19 with an exciting lineup celebrating indigenous cuisine, culture and history. Kakadu National Park will be hosting an immersive programme of local food exploration and cultural events, from guided bush tucker walks, sunset canape cruises, masterclass led by indigenous chefs to hunting tools workshop—all set against the spectacular natural landscape shared with the local aboriginals.
Kakadu National Park, Kakadu Hwy, Jabiru, Northern Territory, Australia; +61 8 8938 1120
See also: 14 Must-Visit Culinary Destinations For 2019