It would be remiss to visit one of NSW’s 14 wine regions and not indulge in a little food. After all, where grapes grow well, so too does a plethora of other produce. From Australia’s oldest wine region to some of its most innovative, culinary experiences range from fine dining to rustic and even vineyard picnics.
From the very north of the state to the very south, there’s just about a farmers market for every village, town and hamlet you encounter. Yes, you can purchase produce straight from the passionate people who grew or raised them. But you’ll usually also find entertainment and plenty of munchies to get you through your shop.
Berry Farmers Market, Berry
Lismore Organic Market on the North Coast is Australia's longest-running certified organic-only market, while Newcastle City Farmers Marketfeatures 150 stalls, bulging under the weight of culinary temptations. Don’t even get us started on the epic Mullum Farmers’ Market, which is just as much about people-watching and catch-ups as it is the produce.
Mullum Farmers Market, Mullumbimby
Food shows and fairs
There’s nothing Aussies like more than agricultural shows and fairs. It’s in our DNA. Sydney’s epic Royal Easter Show aside, regional NSW delivers with the annual Royal Bathurst Show, among the biggest of its kind outside the state’s capital. Set on the banks of the Macquarie River, Bathurst charms you with its pretty, tree-lined streets and heritage buildings – then wins you over with its country swagger. Meanwhile, the Inverell Annual Show has been celebrating country life since it began in 1868, in the gemstone country of New England. Added bonus: the region’s cool climate wines.
There are other shows held regularly throughout NSW’s lush farming regions, including the Upper Hunter, Griffith, Bega, Armidale, Mudgee and more.
Royal Bathurst Show, Bathurst
Trails & tours
Chances are, someone else knows the purveyors in regions you want to visit better than you do. And those people have put together a tidy network of food, wine and ale trails across regional NSW. Self-navigate the Northern Exposure trail through Byron and the Tweed in search of tropical fruit, gin and mud crabs. Or discover vineyards, orchards and olive groves on the (also self-guided) Blue to Orange route through the Central West. In the Riverina, along the Victorian border, indulge in chocolate, charcuterie and wines on the Echuca Moama Food and Wine Trail.
The Sweet Meadow, Echuca - Credit: Tyson Mayr
If you prefer someone else to do all the hard work, sign up for a food and/or wine tour Hunt for truffles and learn how to cook them at Turalla Truffles, near the town of Bungendore just outside Canberra. On the Sapphire Coast, you can eat oysters straight from the leases on a tour with local legend Captain Sponge. His Magical Oyster Tours will see these tasty South Coast molluscs disappear before your eyes… Take a tailor-made wine tour of the Southern Highlands with The Grape Escape to meet the winemakers and taste the region’s applauded cool-climate drops, or weave around the streets of Newcastle with Underground Epicureans.
We’re all about gathering like-minded gourmands and the best place to do just that in a bacchanalian atmosphere is at one of the state’s food and wine festivals. We could spend days listing off favourites, but instead, here’s a curated selection:
Farm-to-table, paddock-to-plate, sourcing local produce, the culinary movement to showcase food provenance in fine-dining restaurants is a way of life in regional NSW. There are many acclaimed restaurants across regional NSW to try.
Pair great food and wine at Muse Restaurantin the Hunter Valley, enjoy contemporary Italian and French fare at Lolli Redini in Orange, taste oysters shucked just metres from where you sit at The Quarterdeck in Narooma, and work your way through the menu at Bangalay Dining in Shoalhaven Heads – chefs here are dedicated to using native Australian ingredients wherever possible. And then there’s Limone in Griffith, where head chef Luke Piccolo plucks produce from his family’s farm to create memorable dishes inspired by his time working in Sicily.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.