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Go Gourmet

THERE’S NO DENYING the foodie scene in the Top End has upped the ante over the past few years, with cafés, restaurants and food trucks popping up about the place, much to the delight of food-lovin’ Top Enders and visitors alike.

So what could be better than feasting on delicious feeds from a swag of local restaurants whilst also sampling the beautiful sights of Darwin? Cue new culinary tourism biz, Darwin Gourmet Tours.

Inspired by a trip to Cambodia, this exciting new offering is thanks to husband-and-wife team, Darrel Trueman and Claire Bartlett.

“A few years ago, my wife and I went on a trip to Cambodia and took a food tour and were quite impressed by it. Looking around, I saw there were food tours around the world – you go to Melbourne, there’s food tours, you go to London, there’s food tours – but there weren’t any really in Darwin,” Darrel says.

“I thought, well, the food scene in Darwin has really improved over the last decade in terms of fine dining, and that it would be a good idea for Darwin. Despite the downturn in tourism, it has turned out to be good for Darwinites – so many people from the Top End have been taking advantage of the tourism vouchers.

“There’s a sense that people are bursting at the seams a bit. Aussies really love to travel, and they haven’t been able to do that. We’ve been saying ‘let your tastebuds do the travelling!’”

And travel they will… Over the course of three hours, guests can tuck into a specially curated lunch or dinner menu from a selection of local restaurants from the likes of Hanuman, Phat Mango, Moorish, Wharf One and Chow, just to name a few.

With a focus on local flavours, each restaurant has been selected quite on purpose. Seafood is caught locally, Asian greens grown locally, and spices foraged locally – even the tour guides are locals. Indigenous ingredients that have been used in cooking by Top End Aboriginal people over hundreds of years are also championed, with paperbark, lemon myrtle, river mint, rosella and kangaroo popping up on the menu.

As you move from one restaurant to the next, tour guides chat you through significant Darwin landmarks, such as the Old Town Hall, Parliament House and Survivor’s Lookout. Over the course of the tour, guests can expect to cover about a kilometre – not a bad way to burn off some of that tucker you’ve been enjoying so much! (Hot tip: wear comfy kicks.)

There’s also an exciting Sunday brunch experience at Roma Bar and a couple of pre-dinner drinks and nibbles options on offer. Private party? No problem. You can book a session out entirely for you and your crew.

“It gives our guests the opportunity to try a number of different restaurants in a short amount of time, and the opportunity to try local ingredients that you might not be able to try at other restaurants. And with some cultural and historical highlights, we bring to light some things that even locals might not know about Darwin,” Darrel says.

“People really make connections with other people on the tour that were strangers before. One of the icebreakers we use is that we ask people to talk food and their experiences growing up, their favourite dishes, and everybody shares some of that – by the tour there’s a real congeniality between everyone. It’s the language of food!”

If you’re in the mood for a stroll with some good company, culinary conversation and an amazing spread of local food, this is the tour for you.


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