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Travelling and living gluten free in Australia

By Harriet Kendrick

Sydney Opera House
Australia. Courtesy of kevgibbo

Australia. There's nothing like it! And there's definitely nothing else like it for a Coeliac traveller. This country is a haven for Coeliac's and their travelling buddies alike. Since arriving here in August, I have found Australia to be one of the most gluten-free friendly countries I have visited. Making travelling and living here so much easier than I imagined!

After arriving at our first city - Sydney - in August, I was a little sceptical of how good the GF food would be. I'd had a reasonable experience on the plane; booking my flights with Singapore Airlines, who offered a great range of meals for passengers with intolerances or special dietary requirements (including requirements for different religions). My meals mainly consisted of egg cooked in several different forms, but also a pleasant salmon dish - provided with lots of fruit and bread rolls which was great, apart from the fact that I'd panic-bought a whole range of GF snacks for the plane journey just in case. So, I had a lot of food, and the problem was you can't take anything of it off the plane with you into Australia.

So lesson number 1 there, don't panic-buy for long-haul flights! In Sydney, I had researched GF restaurants, and realised that Australia was indeed more GF friendly than England. Nearly every restaurant (not fast-food chain) had a GF option on the menu, or a message that stated a request could be made for a GF meal (it is an English-speaking country after-all, so lesson 2 is that asking is always recommended!) So the occasional evening meal was easy.

The best places I found in Sydney were Mexican restaurants ('Guzman y Gomez' & ' Montezuma's ' where tacos are the best option), and the Sky Tower revolving restaurant which I'd booked for my BF's birthday. Amazing views over the whole of Sydney, and a whole lot of GF food in the buffet - all clearly labelled. Great stuff!

In terms of travelling back-packing style, most hostels have shared kitchens, therefore buying your own food and cooking it is a great way to save money - which is what we did most nights. The main supermarkets in Australia are Coles and Woolworths (in the larger cities). Both have a great selection of GF food, all found in the 'health-food' isles. However, as in England, it's pretty expensive. Expect to pay $5-$6 for a box of cereal, and $6-$7 for bread that doesn't taste like sand (Country Life is the best I've found so far). Basco cake mixes are also brilliant for the occasional treat at only $3-$4. Buying your own food to make your own lunch is one of your best bets, as it's more difficult to find places to grab a quick and cheap lunch.

However, Asian food is huge in Australia due to the country's links to the Pacific, and a lot of Asian food is GF. Rice noodle soups and sushi rolls are great for lunch, and in the cities you'll only ever be 5 minutes away from a Sushi restaurant. They're incredibly cheap too, at around $2-$3 each for a large sushi roll. Unfortunately, only the egg/vegetable based ones are for safe eating. We travelled through every state in Australia in a hired campervan - the first leg which we'd pre-booked in England, and the rest we'd booked as relocations (search 'campervan relocations Australia' online and a whole host of campers are available for as little as $5 a day, and usual come with fuel allowances).

The relocations were a great, cheap alternative to any other travel, allowing you to see more of this amazing country - despite the time limits. The other benefit of driving in a campervan is you have your own kitchen in the back, allowing you to control what you eat, and the amount of cross-contamination you can control. Even in the dusty Red Centre, there were Asian establishments and large supermarkets to buy your GF food.

Eventually, we settled down in Brisbane, and got our own flat which made my GF experience even easier. Our diet has mainly consisted of rice/pasta/salad based meals, as in the hot climate mash and gravy is a little too stodgy.

But there's loads of ways to make your meals exciting. Brisbane is a great city, a lot smaller than Sydney and Melbourne, cheap to get around with your 'Go Card', and a great climate for residents of the colder countries! Soon, we'll be off to SE Asia, and the whole GF experience will begin again - will definitely be downloading some of the free GF Restaurant Cards


Wherever you're going, remember to take a free gluten free restaurant card with you.

I hope that this celiac travel story has helped you. You can help other celiacs travel more safely by telling me about getting gluten free food in your area - remember where you live is a destination too! Send me a report and I'll let thousands of celiacs know.

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