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Tuesday 29 March 2022

Small town food festivals offer a real taste of the country

Big cities host various wine and food festivals all the time, but for smaller regional areas their once a year gourmet events are an annual highlight - and the perfect time to visit a destination that might otherwise be off your radar.

The folks at Visit NSW recently released a list off festivals that fly under the radar, and I've selected a few that sound particularly tempting and offer food lovers a chance to head off the beaten track. 


Held on the banks of the picturesque Lachlan River, lined with red river gums, Grazing Down the Lachlan (top image) in September is a walking long lunch celebrating the produce of the Central West region. Visitors can snack, sip and wander their way through the day – six stations are set up along a dedicated path in the reserve, each offering a dish with a matched drink (but the menu is kept secret until the day). The organisers have a commitment to delivering a no-waste, environmentally responsible event.    


For the last 16 years, this lovely little coastal town 550 kilometres north of Sydney has transformed transformed itself into a little slice of India with culture and curry to the fore for one day only in September. The town has a large Punjab community that built the first Sikh temple in Australia. Woolgoolga Curryfest (above) is a celebration of the multiculturalism of the town with a wide array of Indian food, dance performances, live entertainment, and a kid’s zone. 


A lively coiuntry town just south of Coffs Harbour, Sawtell has hosted the annual Sawtell Chilli Festival (above) for over 20 years. From dark chilli chocolate to spicy ginger beer and everything in between: (condiments, curries, hot dogs, fresh chilli plants), guests can test their tolerance for heat while listening to live music each July. 


This small town in the Upper Lachlan Shire - a 30-mnute drive from Goulburn - is known for its fine wool, potato production, Irish heritage and community spirit, all qualities are celebrated at the Crookwell Country and Potato Festival, held in March (from 2023). Think celebrity chef appearances, farm tours and a popular demonstration kitchen. 

Southern Highlands

If you love a good pie, and who doesn't, then plan your next trip to the the Southern Highlands(or Southern Pielands, as it will be known for the month) in June for Pie Time. Follow a pie trail for a road trip through the picturesque towns of the region and sample a few of the 30 pies on offer. 

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