Exploring the Wild Side of Australian Cuisine: Bush Herbs and Spices

Australian cuisine is a diverse and flavorful fusion of influences from around the world. While many are familiar with iconic dishes such as Vegemite and lamingtons, there’s a lesser-known but equally fascinating aspect to Australian cooking—bush herbs and spices. Indigenous Australians have used these unique and often wild ingredients for thousands of years and are now making their way into modern Australian cuisine. This article takes a culinary journey into the wild side of Australian cuisine and explores the world of native Australian herbs and spices.

Wattleseed: The Nutty Delight

Wattleseed is one of the most iconic bush foods in Australia. It is derived from the seeds of various species of acacia trees. Ground wattleseed has a nutty and roasted coffee-like flavour with a hint of chocolate. It’s a versatile ingredient used in both sweet and savoury dishes, from wattleseed damper (a type of bread) to wattleseed ice cream.

Lemon Myrtle: Citrusy Zest

Lemon myrtle is a fragrant bush herb known for its intense lemony aroma and flavour. It’s often used as a spice or herbal infusion and can add a zesty kick to dishes like seafood, chicken, and desserts. Lemon Myrtle’s versatility makes it a favourite among chefs looking to infuse Australian flavours into their creations.

Kakadu Plum: A Tangy Treat

Kakadu plum is a small green fruit with a tart flavour and an exceptionally high vitamin C content. It’s used in sauces, jams, and chutneys, providing a unique tangy element to dishes. This superfood from the Australian outback is celebrated for its nutritional value and distinctive taste.

Mountain Pepper: Spice with a Kick

Mountain pepper, also known as Tasmanian pepperberry, is a native spice with a spicy and slightly sweet flavour. It’s often used as a substitute for traditional black pepper and can be incorporated into marinades, sauces, and even desserts. Mountain pepper adds a delightful twist to familiar dishes.

Bush Tomato: A Unique Twist

Bush tomatoes are small, round fruits with a strong and tangy flavour. They are traditionally used in Indigenous Australian cooking to add depth to sauces and stews. The intense taste of bush tomatoes can elevate savoury dishes, offering a distinctive twist on conventional ingredients.

Macadamia Nuts: The Native Nut

While macadamia nuts are now grown in many parts of the world, they are native to Australia. These buttery and rich nuts are a popular snack and ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes. Macadamia nuts are often used in desserts and baked goods, adding a delightful crunch and flavour.

Saltbush: Nature’s Seasoning

Saltbush is a hardy and salt-tolerant plant found throughout Australia’s arid regions. The leaves of saltbush have a natural salty flavour and are used as a seasoning in various dishes. It’s a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional table salt, offering a unique Australian twist to seasoning.

Quandong: A Sour Surprise

Quandong is a small, bright red fruit with a sour and tangy flavour. It’s often used in jams, sauces, and desserts to add a burst of acidity and vibrant colour. Quandong desserts, such as quandong pies and tarts, are beloved for their unique taste.

Finger Lime: Tiny Citrus Pearls

Finger limes are small, elongated citrus fruits filled with tiny juice-filled pearls. These pearls burst with a citrusy tang when bitten, making finger limes a favourite garnish for seafood, salads, and cocktails. They provide a burst of flavour and texture to dishes.


Australian cuisine is a treasure trove of flavours, and native Australian herbs and spices play a significant role in its culinary landscape. These indigenous ingredients not only add a distinctive twist to dishes but also celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Australia’s First Nations peoples. Exploring the wild side of Australian cuisine through bush herbs and spices is a journey that reveals the depth of flavours that this vast and diverse land has to offer.


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