Chef, TV presenter and restaurateur Kylie Kwong shares her top picks for travelling in Aus.
What are the unmissable experiences and destinations on your ultimate Aussie holiday itinerary?
I wish to visit the spirited outback centre of Mbantua (Alice Springs) in the Northern Territory. Many years ago I stayed in Arnhem Land yet since then I have made so many Aboriginal friends and learnt so much more about their traditions and culture. I would welcome this visit to explore the Red Centre, its contemporary and traditional art, natural wonders including the East and West MacDonnell Ranges, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata-Tjuta (Olgas) and Watarrka (Kings Canyon) and to gain more of an understanding and appreciation of the ancient wisdom of First Nations people of Australia.
What other Aussie destinations and experiences are on your list?
My idea of a great holiday is always focused around food, beautiful natural environments, culture and meaningful, quality connections. I would love to:
- Do a master class at The Agrarian Kitchen with Rodney Dunne in Lachlan, Tasmania
- Lunch at Northern Rivers' regional restaurant, Pipit - run by Ben Devlin and his wife Yen Trinh - small, bespoke, showcasing the best seasonal produce of the area
- Lunch at the charming Summertown Aristologist in the Adelaide Hills in SA - local produce, rustic setting, some of the best natural wines in the world.
- Weekend at Brigitte Hafner's Tedesca Osteria in Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula – a farm stay with Osteria-style eating, where the restaurant is directly connected to the land and the region, with a menu driven by the local produce and cooked for the day.
What is your fondest Australian holiday memory, and where did it take place?
Almost every year my extended Chinese family holidayed in Byron Bay for several weeks - we stayed in one of the large and only apartment blocks on Lawson St, overlooking Clarkes' Beach - now this street is completely filled with holiday rental apartments. We spent every waking hour on the beach and when it was time for lunch, my mum's sister, Aunty Jane, would hang a beach towel on the apartment balcony and we would all race up the beach like little soldier crabs to enjoy freshly peeled, super sweet school prawns jam-packed between pillowy-soft white sliced bread, tomato sauce and iceberg lettuce.
My Uncle Johnny and his family lived in Yamba so they would join us - he is a keen fisherman and would arrive with an esky overflowing with live mud crabs and one of the family highlights was cooking and feasting upon Black Bean and Chilli Mud Crab together!
Some of the other great holidays I have enjoyed include walking The Bay of Fires and Cradle Mountain tracks in the pristine natural environment of Tasmania; exploring the delicious food and wine region of the Barossa Valley in South Australia and spending a week in The Kimberley Ranges, fishing for barramundi and swimming in the unique waterholes.
You've focused on cooking with a conscience and effecting positive social change through the years. Where in Australia would you recommend travellers go to support sustainable travel and dining?
NSW's south coast beaches and seafood are pristine. The Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain and walking tracks in Tasmania; also the pristine wild islands of King Island and Flinder's Island and their incredible seafood. In South Australia, head to The Summertown Aristologist in Adelaide Hills for locally sourced produce and locally crafted natural wine.
Kylie Kwong's restaurant Lucky Kwong is in Sydney's South Eveleigh precinct, and focuses on ethically sourced ingredients. luckykwong.com.au