Support NAIDOC Week and wrap your laughing gear around some first-class First Nations flavours.

It’s NAIDOC Week: the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. If you’d like to connect in a culinary way, some great opportunities exist in Melbourne, not least in the celebrated likes of Mabu Mabu and Big Esso eateries, but you might also want to support some Blak-owned businesses and suppliers, or connect with Indigenous content creators in your choice of reading material. Here’s a few places to start in 2023:

Taka Gin
An Indigenous-owned gin company showcasing the best of native Australian ingredients.

Nikoya Bundle and her husband Vincent Manning created Taka Gin as a celebration of the vastness of Indigenous aromats found in Australia. The Indigenous-owned company make contemporary gin that captures the scent of the Australian bush, with lemon-scented gum leaf and Indigenous lemongrass infused into the signature Taka blend; an excellent way to enliven your next Negroni or Martini.

Jala Jala Treats chocolate
Chocolate flavoured with native ingredients from a 100 per cent First Nations-owned Victorian business.

Jala Jala – “very good” in the Wajarri language of its owner, Sharon Brindley – is all about the use of native Australian plants chocolate. A perennial favourite in the MFWF Convenient Store, Jala Jala chocolates are flavoured with the likes of wattleseed, Davidson plum, lemon myrtle and finger lime.

Sailors Grave Dark Emu Dark Lager
A beer brewed with Indigenous ingredients in collaboration with First Nations author, Bruce Pascoe.

When Sailors Grave Brewing teamed up with Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe in the name of beer, we knew good things were brewing. Sailor’s Grave’s Dark Emu Dark Lager is brewed with mamadyang ngalluk and burru ngalluk grass seed harvested by the Yuin people on the banks of the Wallagaraugh River, and a percentage of each can sold helps support the studies undertaken by First Nations students in Orbost and Mallacoota. Cheers to that.

Big Esso by Mabu Mabu’s crocodile
Nornie Bero’s popular Fed Square restaurant tells the story of First Nations Australia with big-hearted food.

Making a reservation at Big Esso by Mabu Mabu is always a good idea; the cocktail list, packed with Indigenous ingredients, warrants the trip alone. But there are days when you simply need a cold beer and a staunch bowl of saltbush and pepperberry fried crocodile, and Big Esso is one of very few places in the world where you’ll make that happen.

Pick up a copy of Colournary
Rushani Epa’s head-turning publication puts First Nations food stories up in lights. 

Established in 2021 to champion the voices of First Nations and Black peoples and People of Colour through the lens of food and culture, Colournary was one of the great creative stories of the pandemic. Each issue features delicious recipes from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and a portion of the revenue from each magazine sold goes to First Nations not-for-profit, Common Ground.