Across the country, a growing number of indigenous owned and run businesses are using food as a way to share their culture, highlight their heritage and provide delicious dining experiences.
Food is an important way to come together. Here, we highlight some of our favourite places to eat first nations foods at indigenous-owned-and-run eateries.
Birrunga Cafe in the Indigenous-owned and operated Birriga Gallery in Brisbane CBD features a range of Australian meats on their menu as well as ethically-sourced native spices. Burgers and native charcoal tacos come with your choice of crocodile, emu or kangaroo meat.
More adventurous diners can try mountain peppered crocodile with warrigal greens, a share plate of emu poppers or feast on rare kangaroo loin, wild grain tabbouleh, and roast heritage root vegetables.
BYRON BAY (BUNDJALUNG)
Mindy Woods created Karkalla in Byron Bay to develop opportunities for indigenous and non-indigenous people to connect with Aboriginal culture, art and stories through food. Her seasonal, share-plate menu of locally-sourced ingredients as well as Australian wines and native botanical-infused cocktails are the perfect vehicle for this connection.
Located in the place where macadamias evolved over 60 million years ago, these native nuts feature widely on Karkalla’s inspiring menu.
HUNTER VALLEY NSW (WONNARUA)
Kawul, named after the indigenous word for the local wedge-tailed eagle, takes inspiration from the local native produce of the Wonnarua (Pokolbin) region, as well as Australia’s multicultural society.
Their menu is designed to be shared and features fusion dishes like ‘bush salt meatballs, sourdough, sugo’ and ‘ocean butter gnocchi, seared scallops, grilled broccolini’.
MELBOURNE (Kulin Nation)
Mabu Mabu brings a taste of the Torres Strait to Melbourne. Owned and run by Torres Strait Islanders this business is on a mission to put Indigenous ingredients into kitchens across Australia.
And what an amazing range of ingredients they feature at their Big Esso eatery! Think emu liver parfait, periwinkles with makrut lime leaves, and saltbush-fried crocodile with smoked oyster aioli. Big Esso is located in Federation Square opposite the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image).
Just 250 metres away in the Hamer Hall concert venue of the Victorian Arts Centre, Pawa Café & Bar incorporates Indigenous ingredients in pastries, salads, sandwiches and other standard Aussie fare. Think lilly pilly croissants, strawberry gum brownies and kangaroo meat pies. Cheese plates and grazing platters feature native flavours as do their handcrafted cocktails.
Designed by Aboriginal woman Niyoka Bundle from the Gundijtmara people of south west Victoria and the Yuin people of Bega, this is a delicious addition to the Melbourne food scene that makes first nations food widely accessible.
MUDGEE (WIRADJURI COUNTRY)
The Warakirri Dining Experience at Indigiearth Cafe in the Mudgee Arts Precinct and Information Centre, is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of first nations foods and flavours as well as culture and ritual.
The five course degustation experience is spread over four hours, featuring Australian native foods and beverages, prepared by fusing modern techniques with traditional methods.
This unique dining experience is the passion project of Sharon Winsor, a Ngemba Weilwan woman, who combines her culinary training with a matchless knowledge of Aboriginal food.
SYDNEY (GADIGUL COUNTRY)
Can’t travel too far out of Sydney? You can still experience first nations food at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Every item in their newest kiosk has been curated by Indigenous Elder Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo to feature native Australian ingredients.
Aunty Beryl says first nations food knowledge hasn’t always been valued in the way it is today, but now it sits front and centre at the forefront of the gallery’s new North Building.