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People dining at a winery in Orange
Photograph: Destination NSW

The five best gourmet getaways for foodies in NSW

Eat and drink your way around the state at these delicious destinations

By Sarah Theeboom
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Sydneysiders are a lucky bunch. Not only do we have that harbour, those beaches, and world-class restaurants and bars on our doorstep, but our state is also brimming with cellar doors and farm gates that highlight NSW’s amazing produce.

For those with a taste for travel and an adventurous spirit, we’ve rounded up five destinations that are sure to satisfy your cravings. Some are suitable for day trips and weekends away, others are best enjoyed over a longer stay. So go on, pamper your palate and do a solid for regional businesses by heading to these food-focused destinations.

RECOMMENDED: The best wine tours in the Hunter Valley.

Truffles grown in NSW
Truffles grown in NSW
Photograph: Destination NSW

Hunt for truffles in Robertson

Travel time: 2 hours

Truffle season runs from June through August, which is why the pungent delicacy is popping up on menus all over town right now. But why not head straight to the source to dig up the sought-after funghi at Robertson Truffles in the Southern Highlands? On a two-hour tour you’ll learn all about the culinary world’s “black gold,” how truffle farms (called truffieres) work, and meet the farm’s specially-trained sniffer dogs. You’ll then head out to look for black perigord truffles, participating in the farm’s actual harvesting process. Whether or not you find any, you can buy some of the gourmet goodies to take home with you. While you’re in town, make sure you stop at Robertson Pie Shop which is something of a local institution. 151 McEvilly Road, Robertson, NSW 2577; 0419 986 844; robertsontruffles.com.au. Tours cost $110 per person and include a light lunch.

Hermitage cycle path, Hunter Valley
Hermitage cycle path, Hunter Valley
Photograph: Supplied/Melissa Findley

Cycle between cellar doors in the Hunter Valley

Travel time: 2.5 hours

Is there any better form of exercise than the kind that involves eating and drinking? If your answer is a resounding “hell no!” then you’ll want to check out the scenic 10 kilometer cycle path along Hermitage Road near Pokolbin, which takes you past bucolic vineyards, a brewery and more than a dozen cellar doors. Bring your own bike or rent wheels from Grapemobile Bicycle Hire or Sutton Estate Electric Bike Hire, then hit the asphalt for a leisurely ride interspersed with plenty of swirling, sipping and spitting (don’t drink and ride, kids). Worthy stops along the route include Ironbark Hill Brewhouse, Mistletoe Wines with its sculpture garden, Tintilla Estate which produces olives as well as vino, and hatted eateries Muse Kitchen and Restaurant Botanica. Right now most restaurants require reservations and many cellar doors are by appointment only, so make sure that you book ahead.

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Acres Cyder orchards
Acres Cyder orchards
Photograph: Destination NSW

Drink something other than wine in Orange

Travel time: 3.5 hours

Although this Central West region is primarily known for its produce and vineyards (most notably Philip Shaw winery), there’s plenty to eat and drink beyond the expected. Ten kilometres outside of town you’ll find the much awarded Small Acres Cyder cellar door, where you can sample high-end ciders made using traditional English and French methods. If you’re more of a beer drinker, try the craft brews at Badlands Brewery, which cleaned up at the Independent Brewers Association Awards in 2018. The brewery’s cellar door is located inside the Agrestic Grocer, a one-stop-shop that showcases the best of local deliciousness through its restaurant and retail section. (If you’re there during the week, you may even catch local musicians covering classic albums for Ruby Tuesday Classic Album Night.) For something a little harder, head to Washington & Co cocktail bar. The self-styled “whiskey saloon” is inspired by American founding father George Washington, whom apparently distilled bourbon when he wasn’t busy fighting for independence or serving as the first POTUS. Come September, there will be two brand new spots to add to your Orange hit list: a cellar door by local gin producers Parrot Distilling, and Racine Bread + Wine, the café iteration of the hatted Racine restaurant which shuttered earlier this year.

Wapengo Rocks oyster, South Coast
Wapengo Rocks oyster, South Coast
Photograph: Supplied/Michael Fiedler

Slurp oysters on the South Coast

Travel time: 2-6 hours

The coastline from Nowra down to the Victorian border is prime oyster-growing territory, producing premium Sydney Rock, Pacific and Angasi flat oysters. Though you can sample the region’s bivalves in top restaurants around Sydney, they won’t taste as good as a freshly-shucked oyster that was pulled from the water mere hours ago. If you’ve got time for a multi-day road trip, you can explore how the terroir changes as you move down the coastline. But if you’re only hitting up one or two spots, here are some highlights of NSW’s oyster coast.

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A couple eats at the Three Blue Ducks at the Farm
A couple eats at the Three Blue Ducks at the Farm
Photograph: Destination NSW

Have a fancy dinner on the Far North coast

Travel time: 8.5 hour drive or 1.5 hour flight to Ballina

You might think of it as a summer destination, but now is the time to book a table at the hard-to-get-into restaurants in the Northern Rivers region. In Byron Bay, you can bookend a meal at field-to-table restaurant Three Blue Ducks at the Farm with a wander around the 80-acre farm grounds and a visit to the produce shop. Or try a local ingredient you’ve never eaten before at Harvest Restaurant in the village of Newrybar, which regularly features foraged and wild ingredients on its menu. Local and ethically-sourced produce also shines at one-hat Paper Daisy in Cabarita (open from Jul 2); kangaroo, saltbush, wattleseed, macadamia and other native ingredients can be found all over the award-winning menu. In Brunswick Heads, Fleet (check website for reopening date) has two hats and 14 seats, which means chances of getting a table are slim. But if that’s the case, sister venues La Casita and Ethel Food Store provide ample consolation.

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Bubbletent, Capertee Valley
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

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