The Northern Territory (NT) is renowned for its landscapes and wilderness, but it is also undoubtedly a foodie destination – mostly due to its availability of fresh produce. Two festivals staged in the NT recently showcased the importance of its food and the unique cuisine options for event planners: the Darwin Laksa Festival and the Mango Madness Festival.

The Darwin Laksa Festival ran between October 26 and November 29 at a range of venues in the city. The territory’s close proximity to Asia has created a unique culinary environment, with the NT’s laksas now recognised as being amongst the best in the world. Laksas are readily available across NT cafes, restaurants and at numerous open-air markets, as well as featuring on business event menus.

Unique festival dishes have included laksa ice-cream, crocodile laksa and even a laksa ‘toastie’ featured alongside traditional laksa soup dishes, with visitors and locals invited to vote for their favourite laksa-inspired dish.

The Mango Madness Festival took place in May and incorporated food stalls, tastings of mango-inspired food and drinks, entertainment, activities and competitions, as well as educational displays and workshops. Festival cuisine featured other Territory-inspired produce such as buffalo, crocodile and barramundi. 26 restaurants, bars and cafes in Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield participated in the festival and created mango drinks and dishes.

This event was hosted by the NT Mango Industry Association at the expansive Darwin Waterfront.  The NT is Australia’s largest grower of mangoes, producing 52 per cent of the national crop and representing the NT’s principal horticultural product.

The association’s key objective was to reconfirm the NT’s profile as the “Home of the Australian Mango” and to provide a welcome boost to the local economy. The event also incorporated a worthwhile CSR element, with approximately $2000 in funds raised for Careflight NT.