Indigenous foods THRIVE in our visitor economy

30 May 2022

The national long-term strategy for Australia’s visitor economy is THRIVE 2030. It outlines seven priorities to sustainably grow the visitor economy. Priority Seven is to develop unique and high-quality products, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences.

By presenting native foods in unique ways, these three Indigenous-owned businesses are great examples of unique visitor experiences.

Tali Wiru: Once-in-a-lifetime fine dining

A true bucket-list experience, Tali Wiru offers luxury fine dining on a sand dune facing Uluru. Tali Wiru means ‘beautiful dune’ in local Pitjantjatjara. The experience, run by Voyages Ayers Rock Resort, celebrated its tenth year in April 2022.

A maximum of 20 diners enjoy champagne and canapés as the sun sets before beginning their four-course meal. Dishes such as Paroo kangaroo tartare and desert lime brûlée celebrate ‘bush tucker’ in new ways. After dinner, an Indigenous storyteller interprets the night sky and shares their cultural knowledge.

Voyages Ayers Rock Resort gives back to the local community through its National Indigenous Training Academy (NITA). The program provides tourism and hospitality training to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, who live onsite for the duration. The resort offers participants jobs at the end of their 12-month traineeship. Many of the staff at Tali Wiru are graduates of this program.

Chocolate on Purpose: Sweet treats with a sustainable focus

The delectable Chocolate on Purpose is a 100% Indigenous-owned chocolate business. Its chocolate flavours include native ingredients such as Illawarra plum, quandong and wild rosella.

Chocolate on Purpose is also expanding into tourism, with a chocolate tasting experience. It has received funding from the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s Indigenous Tourism Fund for this initiative.

As befitting its name, Chocolate on Purpose is a business created with a sustainable ethos. The company offsets its carbon emissions through the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation. It also supports the work of the First Nations Bushfood and Botanical Alliance Australia. This organisation aims to return custodianship of native food production back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Big Esso by Mabu Mabu: Bringing Torres Strait dining to the city

Big Esso is an all-day diner. It brings the experience of eating in the Torres Strait to Federation Square in Melbourne’s CBD. It gives local and international visitors an opportunity to try native foods in an urban environment.

The menu presents native ingredients in a fun and accessible way, all designed for sharing. Some dishes will be familiar to diners, but with new flavours. Think lamb rack, but served with pickled quandong and crispy saltbush. Other dishes may be more unfamiliar, such as charred emu served with kutjera, a type of desert raisin. The restaurant also champions Indigenous-owned businesses such as Sobah, who make non-alcoholic beers with Indigenous ingredients.

THRIVE 2030 highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures – the world’s oldest enduring cultures – as chief among Australia’s unique offerings. By showcasing native ingredients in fresh ways, these businesses position Australia as a top destination for First Nations experiences.

Read the THRIVE 2030 strategy.