A beautiful setting, an exquisite meal and a glass of something deliciously refreshing – it's a simple combination that often makes for the best experiences. For an amazing day out, lap up a little foodie culture and check out the exciting calendar of culinary events being held across Australia. From a fun-filled rum festival to an all-out beach barbecue, there's plenty to whet your appetite…
Related article: A quick guide to Australia's favourite wine regions
Ceduna Oysterfest, September 28-30
Whether you like them natural with a drizzle of lemon or grilled with bacon and Worcestershire sauce, oysters are the quintessential romantic treat. Sample some of Australia's best at Ceduna Oysterfest in South Australia's fabulous Eyre Peninsula. Australia's largest oyster festival, the event gathers local suppliers and chefs together by the Murat Bay for seafood tastings, cooking demonstrations, live music and drinks in the sunshine. No need to dress up – do as the locals do and enjoy the delectable morsels in relaxed style on the lawn (in other words, thongs are perfectly acceptable footwear).
Margaret River Gourmet Escape, November 15-18
For something a little more refined, check out the Margaret River Gourmet Escape in November. A renowned event that serious foodies and those seeking a wonderful experience will both enjoy, the culinary extravaganza showcases the very best that the region has to offer – from artisan honey to craft distillers.
The heart of MRGE, Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate Winery is where you can meet the talents behind all the enticing fare (and sample their produce, of course), catch a masterclass and even see comedians like Matt Okine. Smaller events like exclusive dinners also grace the programme, but it's the Westpac Gourmet Beach BBQ that captures Australia's attention. Bringing together names like Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein and Justine Schofield on the pristine shores of Castle Rock Beach, the sensational gourmet feast takes place in a glamorous tipi village. Expect exquisite canapés, free-flow beer and wine, and some of the best grilled seafood you've ever tried.
Spirit of Bundaberg Festival, October 13
With scrumptious street-food, foot-tapping live acts and rum-spiked tipples, Queensland's Spirit of Bundaberg Festival beautifully laid-back. Celebrating Bundaberg Rum's 130th birthday, this year's event is set to feature everything from rum-inspired cuisine to Pub Rock Choir sessions and the final of the Battle of the Sounds competition – it all makes for an incredibly fun day out. Head to the iconic rum distillery, order yourselves a Dark and Stormy (or three), taste some fuss-free fare and let your hair down. Cheers to that!
Macedon Ranges Wine + Food Budburst Festival, November 17-18
Consider yourselves wine connoisseurs? Like a cheeky drop every now and again? Inviting couples to discover one of Australia's best wine-producing regions, the Macedon Ranges Wine + Food Budburst Festival is perfect for those wanting to escape to Victoria's countryside. Wineries and vineyards across the region will throw open their cellar doors for tastings, live music and special dinners, plus talks with the producers themselves. There'll also be 'Festival Dinner with a Masterchef' at Parkside Estate Winery, where Masterchef 2017 contestant Jess Butler will serve up artistic dishes paired with the winery's own award-winning wines, of course.
Taste of Tasmania, December 28-January 3
A real highlight in the Australian culinary calendar, Taste of Tasmania is definitely worth checking out. Held on Hobart's scenic waterfront, the celebration is a winner for outstanding fare and entertainment. Serving up a range of cuisines from around the world, more than 70 specialty stallholders make the festival a gourmand's wonderland. Food tours, cooking classes and tasting table sessions add to the excitement, while a Tasmanian-focused entertainment program gives couples a taste (pun intended) of the state's culture. Be sure to make a night of it and enjoy sundowners and a fantastic dinner by the water before catching a film under the stars in the nearby parklands.
Sydney BeerFest, December 1
We couldn't talk about Australian culinary festivals without mentioning one of the nation's most beloved drinks – beer. Held at Sydney's Centennial Park, Sydney BeerFest promises to take couples on a 'journey of beer and food discovery' and will host more than 300 small-batch craft beers, ciders, cocktails and wines. Helping to line the stomach, a brilliant lineup of street-food vendors will entice foodies and acts like Grinspoon's Phil Jamieson will keep attendees' feet tapping. Hungry for more? Sydney BeerFest will also keep couples entertained with live comedy, master classes and beer-food matching sessions.
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Images courtesy of Mitch Osborne and sourced via www.southaustralia.com/, www.facebook.com/pg/GourmetEscape/, www.queensland.com/, www.macedonrangeswineandfoodfest.com.au/ and www.beerfestivals.com.au/