From surf club swimwear, kangaroo jerky, and lip balm with a cult following, make room for these less obvious Aussie gifts in your carry-on.
Let’s be honest, you’ll probably buy a boomerang…and a stuffed kangaroo and most likely a stuffed koala, too. And there’s no judgment here: boomerangs and plush Aussie animals are just-back-from-Australia classics. But if you’d like to be more focused—and less obvious—in your Aussie haul, we have a few recommendations.
Leaving Australia without a jar of Vegemite is like leaving Spain without olive oil or Switzerland without chocolate. Vegemite may not be to everyone’s taste but few things are more ironically Australian—it is found in 90% of Aussie homes. Best enjoyed on toast (the staple Australian breakfast).
Known for its beautiful beaches and beach culture, it makes sense that Australia is home to some of the world’s coolest and best swimwear brands. In fact, feel free to just leave yours at home so you have an excuse to buy more than one. Labels to look for on your trip include Seafolly, Matteau, Baku, Palm, and Zulu & Zephyr. In summer, the Bronte Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney sells their branded club merchandise along the promenade. Unlike swimsuits decorated with the Australian flag (a big no-no), locals actually wear “bathers” from surf clubs so you’ll fit right in and have a great memento to take home.
Australia has given the fashion world some of its favorite designers. Some renowned high-end Australian designers to look for include Zimmermann, Collette Dinnigan, Alice McCall, Akira Isogawa, and Camilla and Marc. High street labels include Spell & The Gypsy Collective, Réalisation Par, Aje, and Nobody Denim. Head to the boutique-lined streets of Paddington in Sydney or inner city Melbourne to kickstart your shopping spree.
The friend in every Australian fridge, Bega cheese is based in Bega in NSW but its bitey cheddar cheese is found in supermarkets across the country. This is not a fancy impress-your-guests cheese—for that, buy Unicorn cheese from Nowra Farmhouse—but it’s an authentic taste of Australia.
If you are visiting the Red Centre, allow time to stop at an Aboriginal art center. There are three important ones in the Kimberleys—Warmun, Waringarri, and Mowanjum—and more scattered across Arnhem Land. If you’re not heading inland you can find great works at the Aboriginal-run gallery Boomalli in Sydney and Koolie Heritage Trust in Melbourne. The Ayers Rock Resort near Uluru has a number of galleries and artist programs, including live-in residencies.
It doesn’t get more quintessential Australia than the distinctive national emblem and it turns out that emblem is a lean meat, high in protein and iron, free range and organic, and an environmentally-friendly alternative to beef and pork. Kangaroo jerky is readily available in grocery stores across Australia and in Duty Free on your way out. Brands to look for include Chewy Rooey and Billabong Jerky. For even more interesting souvenirs, look for emu and crocodile jerky, too.
We love to shop the beauty aisles wherever we travel and Down Under is no exception. With one of the harshest but also most botanically diverse environments in the world, it’s no wonder Aussie beauty brands are some of the most innovative. Products to look for include Sukin and Aesop skin care; Bondi Sands tanning products; Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics; and Kevin Murphy hair care. Also, be sure to pick up emu oil moisturizer, macadamia oil, and the 100+ year old Aussie lip balm product/healing ointment with a cult following–Lucas’ Papaw Ointment.
A quintessential symbol of Australian working life, fourth-generation family-owned Akubra has been making its fur felt hats in NSW since 1874. While the brand carries more urban styles such as the trilby and fedora, it’s the classic Bushman or Cattleman hats, worn by outback rangers, crocodile hunters, and Brumby-riding, whip-cracking horsemen that you’ll want to take home.
Whether it’s a Shiraz from one of the top producers in the Barossa Valley, a Yarra Valley chardonnay, a Hunter Valley semillon, or a discovery from a lesser-known Margaret River label, you will want to bring wine home (so plan ahead and pack wine skins in your luggage!) If you don’t want to limit yourself to one or two bottles, know that many of the larger wineries can ship to your home for a fee.
If you have a teenager on your list, there’s a good chance you will also have “a pair of Ugg Australia boots” on your list, too. Two things to know: “Ugg” is actually a generic term for sheepskin boots that have been made and worn Down Under since the 1930s and the “UGG Australia” brand is actually a U.S.-based company run by an Australian. If you are looking for authentic sheepskin boots, avoid boots that pretend to be Australian but are made in China and look for Emu brand boots which are made in Australia from local sheepskin. Other local brands include Urban Ugg and Shearers Ugg.