Adventurous epicureans can plot their itineraries around awesome Aussie food and wine festivals that happen year-round.
1. Full Moon Festival, Byron Bay, NSW
It’s not that Byron Bay’s Full Moon festival is underground exactly. It’s that 2022 will be the first time the Aussie food and wine festival is being held in the Northern Rivers town. Full Moon, curated by Luna Wine Store’s co-owners and sommeliers Russ Berry, James Audas and Tom Sheer is aimed at educating consumers about natural wines that have been produced with little intervention.
The inaugural Full Moon festival in Byron Bay will focus on natural wines. (Image: Kitty Gould)
Ticketholders attending the May 14 event, to be held in Byron Bay’s magical Secret Garden venue, will enjoy a two-hour tasting session for $65 with all profits going to the Koori Mail’s Rebuild Fund to help those impacted by the devastating floods in the Northern Rivers.
Ticket profits will go towards helping those impacted by the recent Northern Rivers floods. (Image: Destination NSW)
2. Babinda Harvest Festival, Qld
Blink and you’ll miss Babinda on the way to Cairns or Townsville. But the pocket-sized village is definitely worth a detour, especially during the annual Babinda Harvest Festival. The festival, which sprouted in Tropical North Queensland 59 years ago, is now the most anticipated day of the calendar year. The down-home country festival takes place in October, and offers exciting activities for the whole family including tractor-pull rides, live entertainment and fireworks. The population in Babinda is very multicultural, so expect to enjoy some of the best homemade cannoli outside Italy.
The Babinda Harvest Festival is a dinky, down-to-earth snapshot of colourful Tropical North Queensland.
3. The Curated Plate, Sunshine Coast, Qld
After launching on the Sunshine Coast in 2019, The Curated Plate is back in 2022 in a new, more intimate format based around the Sunny Coast’s premium local produce. The 10-day festival is designed to celebrate the region’s restaurants, chefs, farms and artisan producers at events dotted around the stunning coastline and sprawling hinterland.
The Curated Plate shines the spotlight on the Sunshine Coast’s premium local produce. (Image: Tourism Events Queensland)
Expect everything from bespoke dinners, to cooking demonstrations, and a pop-up marketplace showcasing local producers such as Walker Seafoods and Hinterland Feijoas as well as Brouhaha Brewery and CAVU Distilling. The event, to be held from July 29 to August 7, is known for its roster of celebrity chefs. Check the website for the full program.
Expect everything from bespoke dinners to cooking demonstrations and a pop-up marketplace. (Image: Tourism Events Queensland)
4. Taste of Kakadu, NT
The aim of the Taste of Kakadu festival is to provide visitors with insights into the culture and unique food history of Indigenous Australians while learning a little something about the Northern Territory along the way.
Taste of Kakadu offers insights into the culture and unique food history of Indigenous Australians. (Image: Tourism NT)
Set within the World-heritage listed Kakadu National Park, the hosts of the cultural food festival rekindled knowledge passed down over 65,000 years ago to curate the bush food festival that is attracting new audiences from the city. The three-day weekend, from 27–29 May, celebrates Kakadu’s cuisine, culture and country. Although the 2022 program is yet to be finalised, expect hands-on workshops, cooking demonstrations, bush tucker guided tours, and culinary cruises around Yellow Water/Ngurrungurrudjba.
Sample bush tucker at Taste of Kakadu. (Image: Tourism NT)
5. Mango Madness Festival, Darwin, NT
There are few fruits as appealing on a sultry day in the Top End than a juicy mango. Tastings, talks and cooking workshops are an integral part of the Mango Madness Festival dedicated to the fleshy, oval tropical fruit that is eaten ripe, used green for pickles and chutneys or blended into a smoothie. The Mango Madness Festival is now in its third year and has become an annual family event. Highlights of the festival include the search for Darwin’s best mango drink, cooking workshops as well as the obligatory mango-eating competition. The festival is held annually in October or November. Check the website for details.
6. RedFest Strawberry Festival, Cleveland, Qld
Aaah strawberries. We love to eat them fresh, dipped in chocolate, fattened up in a flute of fizz or sprinkled with lemon juice and icing sugar on crepes. But you can forget all the niceties surrounding this sweet, soft, seed-studded red fruit when you start going for gold and smooshing as many strawberries in your pie hole as you can during the Strawberry Eating Competition at RedFest. The community-focused food event, held 2-4 September, will be held in Cleveland on the western shores of Moreton Bay, Queensland, and will include live music performances, fair rides, fresh produce and cooking displays.
Strawberries in the spotlight at RedFest.
7. Kingaroy Baconfest, Qld
You will be giving thanks to the bacon gods for this Southern Queensland festival devoted to the cured meat, of which there is a bounty of at the 19-21 August event. Tell your vegan mate a porky pie about where you’re going for the day so you can enjoy pigging out on everything from bacon ice cream to bacon fries. The Kingaroy BaconFest will also include a smoke-off competition, Wine & Swine night, and bacon-themed fashion pageant. Enter the Rasher Run cycling event so you can counter the calories at the event, which includes a Wine Garden and Bacon Community Artisan Market selling everything from bacon-themed aprons to bacon jam and Don’t go Bacon my Heart tea-towels that nod to the farming community in the South Burnett region of Queensland.
8. Thorpdale Potato Festival, West Gippsland, Vic
A lot of under-the-radar food and wine festivals around Australia were created to lure people into the regions. And the bonus of visiting the Thorpdale Potatoe Festival in the West Gippsland region of Victoria is that it is used not only as a platform to sell a crop like potatoes but as a way of promoting the area, in this case, the Thorpdale district in the beautiful foothills of the Strzlecki Ranges. West Gippsland has a proud history of growing potatoes in its rich, red volcanic soil. Mark March 2023 in your calendar and start training like an Olympian for challenges such as potato picking, packing, and stacking as well as mash-potato eating and sack racing to celebrate the return of the festival, which has been on pause for the past two years.
Packing it in at the Potato Festival in Thorpdale, West Gippsland.
9. Meeniyan Garlic Festival, South Gippsland, Vic
Expect the festivities at the annual Meeniyan Garlic Festival in South Gippsland to be deliciously pungent with 120 different stallholders selling everything from garlic-laced beer and ice cream to garlic gin and garlic jam. Chefs and a group of about 20 artisan growers traditionally descend on the Meeniyan Recreation Reserve during the annual festival, held during the month of February or March, when the strong-smelling bulb is at its best. Co-creator of Meeniyan Garlic Festival and deputy chair of the Australian Garlic Industry Association, David Jones, says the garlic festival puts the region known as Prom Country – which nods to Wilsons Promontory National Park – on the map.
The focus is firmly on all things garlic at Meeniyan Garlic Festival in South Gippsland.
10. Taste Great Southern, WA
WA’s Truffle Kerfuffle is well and truly on the radar of food-focused travellers from around the globe. But the Taste Great Southern festival will also appeal to epicureans who will appreciate the region’s status as one of Western Australia’s premier food bowls. While the region is most celebrated for its forests full of towering karris and jarrah trees, the small pocket of WA is also on the map for its farm-gate tourism.
The Taste Great Southern food and wine festival celebrates the region’s status as WA’s premier food bowl. (Image: Amazing Albany)
The Taste Great Southern festival, held from 5-15 May, will feature more than 20 chefs, long-table lunches, degustation dinners and markets designed to showcase fresh local produce ranging from oysters to avocadoes, truffles, marron and cheese.