Food and Wine Road Trips in Australia — The Most Delectable Drives To Do
Food and wine road trips in Australia are in abundance. We’d need to write a book to cover them all. These are just some of the most delectable drives you can do that take in welcoming wineries, small artisanal producers, and wonderful cafes and restaurants, against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery.
With a ridiculously diverse range of jaw-dropping landscapes, a good connection of highways, impossibly scenic backroads, and fantastic produce and superb wineries, how could you resist the temptation to embark on a few food and wine road trips in Australia?
Boasting fabulous fruit and veg sold from farmers’ gates, fresh seafood served up sand-side, fabulous vineyards with welcoming cellar doors, gastronomic restaurants overlooking the grapevines, and small town bakeries you can smell a mile away, Australia is an ideal destination for lovers of long-distance driving, offering some of the world’s most tantalising food and wine road trips.
These are just some of our favourite food and wine road trips in Australia — the most delicious drives that we have done, that we think you should do too.
Food and Wine Road Trips in Australia — The Most Delectable Drives You Should Do
Perth to the Margaret River Region
One of our all-time favourite food and wine road trips in Australia is from Perth south through the Margaret River wine region. You can easily take a week exploring this outstanding food and wine region — or you could spend a weekend getting a small taste of what it has to offer.
The spectacular coastline is home to white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, windswept walking trails, and some of Australia’s best surfing spots at Yallingup, Prevelly Park and Margaret River. But inland is where you’ll find some of the country’s finest food and wine.
Thanks to a 1965 academic report by Dr John Gladstone, which pinpointed the region as one with enormous potential, the Margaret River now boasts sensational wineries producing award-winning drops. You should stop at the four pioneering wineries for tastings: Cullen Wines (notable for its Chardonnay), Cape Mentelle (for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon), Moss Wood (Semillon Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon), and Vasse Felix (Chardonnay and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon). These are still some of the most distinguished.
The region is also noted for Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Merlot. The most welcoming cellar doors with the best set-up for travellers are at Vasse Felix, Sandalford, Lenton Brae, Amberley Estate, Cape Mentelle, Voyager Estate, and Evans & Tate, while Leewin Estate, Xanadu and Palandri also have lovely restaurants for lunch. It’s not all about the wine either.
As you drive around the region, you’ll also spot small producers and gourmet shops you can call into to sample berries, preserves, olive oil, truffles, venison, cheese, fudge, and chocolate. Margaret River town has casual restaurants and buzzy wine bars while the fine dining restaurant at Cape Lodge has long had one the best reputations in the region, although we much preferred Will’s Domain on our last trip, which is producing much more contemporary and creative cuisine.
Many of the wineries are located along the Bussell Highway between Carbunup River and Cowaramup and between there and along Caves Road to Yallingup. There are more south of Margaret River, between Wallcliffe Road and Redgate Road, as well as east of Witchliffe. Pick up a winery map from the Margaret River visitor centre in Margaret River Town.
Western Australia’s Southwest
From Perth you could drive inland via Nannup and Manjimup to Pemberton, and then through the Southwest region to Albany over the space of a week to undertake another of the top food and wine road trips in Australia. Your first stop should be historic Bridgetown, a mill town that has developed a reputation for its organic produce, marron and olive oil. The timber town of Manjimup has become famous for its truffles, which you can try and buy at the Wine & Truffle Company and go truffle-hunting in season.
Set amidst undulating farmland and surrounded by towering centuries-old forests, Pemberton has charming cafés, galleries and crafts shops, while the surrounding countryside is dotted with boutique breweries, wineries, and trout and marron farms. In the Pemberton area you can catch marron and eat cherries from December to February and go salmon fishing from March to April.
Continue southeast to Denmark for wild windswept beaches on the coast and inland idyllic countryside with lofty forests, natural bushland and more gently undulating vineyards. You can throw in a line with the local fishermen at Denmark or take the Shadforth Scenic Drive up into the hills above town, which snakes through scenic bushland, stopping at myriad local producers of cheese, honey and wine, on your way to Mount Barker.
Before leaving town, drop into the Denmark Visitor Centre to pick up the Wine Lovers’ Guide to Denmark, which lists over twenty local wineries, some on the way to historic Mount Barker, which is well-regarded for its Rieslings, planted in the late 1970s, as well as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.
Once there, line your stomach with a couple of piping hot award-winning home-made pies from Mt Barker Country Bakery before hitting the cellar doors at Plantagenet, Galafrey Wines, Goundrey Wines, Ferngrove, and Poacher’s Ridge wineries. You should also spot some fine local producers of olive oil and cheese as you cruise around.
The holiday town of Albany was the site of the state’s first settlement and it boasts more wineries, a boutique brewery, fantastic art cafes and restaurants, as well as a year-round Saturday farmers market. Call into the Tangle Head microbrewery for a beer tasting tray and delicious deli board of snacks and don’t miss lunch in the sunshine by the sea at the Squid Shack Boat Ramp for a feast of fantastic local squid and calamari fresh of the boats, washed down with local white wine.
Adelaide to the Adelaide Hills and Hahndorf
Everybody knows the Barossa Valley, but the nearby Adelaide Hills and the charming town of Hahndorf are closer to South Australia’s capital Adelaide and make for a good weekend getaway and one of the best short food and wine road trips in Australia if you’re not a fan of long distances. In half an hour you can be in Adelaide Hills, and while its wineries might not be as well-known as those in the Barossa Valley, but they are still worth a trip.
The Adelaide Hills is the coolest wine-growing region on mainland Australia so it means you are in for tastings of some fresh crisp Sauvignon Blancs, light Chardonnays, and cool-weather Shiraz. Hahndorf Hill Winery produces award-winning Sauvignon Blancs and a rosé made from rare German grapes, Nepenthe does everything from hand-picked Riesling to Pinot Noir, while Petaluma Bridgewater Mill, apart from making beautiful wines has a wonderful restaurant in an atmospheric mill dating to 1860.
Founded in 1839, Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest German settlement, boasts Bavarian-style restaurants, coffee houses, and pubs. It’s also home to Udder Delights, where you can buy some sublime cheeses (we loved the pungent goat camembert) handcrafted by cheesemaker Sheree Sullivan, who also offers cheesemaking classes.
Their café also does lovely lunches made from fresh local products. Try the caramelized onion and goat cheese tart with a local wine. It’s also the starting point for the Adelaide Hills Cheese and Wine Trail, a three-course progressive picnic following a wine route through the hills.
For dessert, visit the German Cake Shop, which specialises in bienenstich, a yeast cake topped with honey and almonds and filled with cream, butter and custard. For authentic locally brewed pilsner hit the Hahndorf Inn Hotel, but dine at the Stirling Hotel’s casual bistro or stylish restaurant.
Food and Wine Road Trips in Australia — Our Tips
- If you’re only in Australia for a short time and you’re doing jaunts from the capital cities, we highly recommend that you rent a car to do these food and wine road trips in Australia. All the major international car rental companies are represented.
- If you’re spending a substantial period of time in the country and perhaps doing an extended around-Australia trip and combining a number of road trips like the ones we suggested in this post then look for a long-term car rental deal. If you’re hitting the road for a few months or more then you might be better off buying a vehicle and selling it before you leave. Do your research, however, as some cars will depreciate in value more than others. We like this motoring site for reviews of vehicles.
- For any of these food and wine road trips in Australia, it’s best to book your accommodation in advance — firstly, because you’ll always get a better rate online, and secondly, because many of the smaller motels and B&Bs operate on 9-5 office hours, so may be closed when you rock into town. Book as far in advance as you can and they’ll let you know where they’re going to leave the key or arrange to meet you.
- Plan your day carefully as most wineries and their restaurants close around 5pm, so if you’re hoping to eat at the winery restaurants we’ve recommended, you’ll need to do so for lunch.
- When you book accommodation, find out if there are decent local restaurants open for dinner, otherwise make lunch your main meal and buy lots of cheeses, cold cuts and other scrummy snacks for an in-room dinner.
- Cafés and bakeries in small towns often only open from 9.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday, although bakeries will open earlier, and may only stay open until noon on Saturday and close entirely on Sunday, so also plan your weekend eating carefully.
- If you are doing a long around-Australia trip consider having some of your wine purchases shipped home so they don’t spoil in the boot of your car.