Did you know? The term “down under” dates back to the 19th century, when English historian James Anthony Froude visited the Oceania region aboard the SS Australia. If you use the phrase today, almost everyone knows that you’re talking about Australia – the large island continent that has captivated our imaginations and been the setting for many a catching tune and curious film.
Anthony Bourdain visited the land Down Under twice, and produced three episodes of television from his visits: two episodes in A Cook’s Tour and one for No Reservations. While this isn’t very many for a big country like Australia, it’s enough to entice travelers who want to follow in the footsteps and forkfuls of Anthony Bourdain in Australia.
If you’re planning a trip to Australia and are curious which cities and regions Tony visited, this guide will help. It covers the basics of Bourdain’s Australia visits, and provides links to resources with even more detail once you decide where you want to travel too. Use this as your inspirational starting point to explore Down Under.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung, Dharug, Djabwurung, Eora, Jardwadjali, Gandangara/ Gundungurra, Tharawal, and Wurundjeri peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
This post was originally written in January 2023 and was updated most recently in January 2024.
Though he didn’t visit many places in Australia, it should come as no surprise that Anthony Bourdain spent time in Melbourne – long considered the food capital of the country. In part due to its many immigrant groups and the variety of cuisines they brought with them when settling in the Melbourne area, Tony eats a variety of dishes that look like many of the other places he visited.
Here’s the list of restaurants he ate at which are still open today.
- Bratwurst Shop & Co. (Queen Victoria Market)
- Half Moon Restaurant
- The Alderman Pub
- Rumi Brunswick
- Dainty Sichuan (Chinatown) (Temporarily closed)
You can learn more about each of these spots and what Tony ate at them in my guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Melbourne.
Grampians National Park (Dunkeld)
After exploring Melbourne, Anthony Bourdain and chef Paul Wilson flew 300km west of Melbourne to the town of Dunkeld in the Grampians National Park, a former cattle station with a population of just 700. Here he dodges naked cattle handlers to experience what he calls “perhaps the best restaurant and wine cellar in all of Australia,” The Royal Mail.
Despite its remote location, The Royal Mail and chef Dan Hunter (Dan has since left the Royal Mail as of 2013) use its unique ecosystem and sustainable garden-to-table kitchen model to deliver a Michelin-caliber experience, and Tony experiences a magnificent selection of what is on offer.
Starting with a dish of sardines with jamon, radishes, and smoked tuna, Bourdain is presented with a summer vegetable salad with shoots, leaves, and flowers, an egg yolk served over toasted rye, legumes, and yeast, calamari on a bed of black cream with carrot, and cardamom, kingfish with cucumber, wild rice, and saffron, pigeon with beetroot, white chocolate and rose, and a truly breathtaking main course of lamb with green shallots, sheep’s milk, and licorice.
With the backing of a world-class wine list, the dessert selection is equally as impressive. Apple with triple cream, caramel, chamomile, pistachio, and hazelnut honeycomb with chocolate, and fig leaf soup served with fresh and dried berries. To quote Bourdain, this is “one of the great meals of the world,” with a conscious effort to make nothing feel constructed; everything on the plate has a reason, and at that point, you stop.
Anthony Bourdain also visited Sydney during his visits to Australia; it was actually part of the same two trips where he visited Melbourne. Here’s a list of the places he ate during those trips that you can visit during a trip today:
- Harry’s Café De Wheels (which he visits twice on his two trips)
- Silverton Hotel Pub
- The Lord Dudley Pub
- Victor Churchill’s
If you want more details about what Tony ate at each of these spots, be sure to check my full Sydney guide.
And that’s it – a short recap of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Australia. Have any questions about the cities and restaurants where Tony ate Down Under? Let me know in the comments!