Whether it's stellar views across Sydney Harbour from Bennelong, sitting virtually on the beach at Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads or eating Moreton Bay bugs at the new Stokehouse Precinct, this wide brown land of ours is home to some impressive waterfront experiences. And there's no time like summer to dine waterside; here's our pick of the best waterfront eateries across the nation.
For ocean views, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar dishes up some of the best in the world. Food and wine aren't second thoughts, either; there's a natural-leaning wine list and a menu packed with contemporary Italian interest. Do you want to dine looking over the water at the Opera House or in it? Peter Gilmore has you covered. Quay offers the chef's three-star food alongside views of the house and the harbour bridge, while just over the water, his restaurant in the smallest sail of the Opera House, Bennelong, offers a slightly more relaxed version of the food that made his name, with reciprocal views of the harbour. A mere hop, skip and a jump away you'll find newly renovated and reinvigorated Aria. It's on song; don't miss the lobster French toast.
Grilled West Australian marron with sea bananas at Cirrus.
Travel out of the CBD and soak up the views of Rose Bay at Catalina, where a seafood-rich menu shines, or jump on a sea plane and head over to the secluded Cottage Point Inn on the Hawkesbury River. The renovated boatshed, surrounded by bush and right on the water, serves produce-driven food plated with flair by young Parisian chef Guillaume Zika.
Stokehouse has risen from the ashes to open two eateries, with one more on the way, that look out across St Kilda beach to the bay. Paper Fish serves a modern - and tasty - take on fish and chips and Pontoon puts its four-metre wood-fired grill to good use with the likes of Moreton Bay bugs with salsa verde, and a handsome lamb shoulder. The final restaurant, Stokehouse, opens later this month. While you're in the neighbourhood, consider a stop at Donovans for a saffron and crab risotto and stand-out sunset views.
If you're in the mood for a road trip, drive out to the Lake House in Daylesford. The House's superb accommodation means you can make the most of the restaurant's award-winning wine list without worrying about the drive home. For a more casual affair, head to Captain Moonlite in Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club, where former Pei Modern chef Matt Germanchis prepares smart takes on relaxed Mediterranean eats.
Fritto misto at Paper Fish, St Kilda.
In Port Willunga, dine at the famously scenic Star of Greece looking out across the Gulf St Vincent. Eat freshly caught King George whiting, or go big with beef short ribs with nashi pear and kimchi, paired with some of McLaren Vale's best bold reds. If eating oysters an arm's reach from where they're caught is more your speed, try 1802 Oyster Bar and Bistro in Coffin Bay.
Il Lido Italian Canteen, perched on the Cottesloe seafront, has one of WA's most extensive collections of Italian wines. A stroll up the beach at Swanbourne, The Shorehouse serves interesting takes on seafood, such as the charcoal-roasted cuttlefish with nectarine sauce, while Odyssea Beach Cafe on City Beach also makes the most of its proximity to quality seafood.
Sitting side-by-side overlooking the Noosa River are Wasabi and Rickys River Bar & Restaurant. Sink into the tatami room at Wasabi with a glass of sake and the omakase menu, or watch the sunset while eating quality local produce at Rickys. In Noosa Heads, Sails offers excellent access to Main Beach. The only beachfront restaurant in Palm Cove, Nu Nu, is a must-visit destination in Far North Queensland. Down at the Gold Coast you can almost touch the water from the dining room at Rick Shores, which sits on the sand at Burleigh Beach.
Back in the city, Stokehouse Q rocks Brisbane River views from both its dining room and Stokebar as do Black Bird and Aria Brisbane across the river.
Take in the views of Hobart Harbour from Aløft, where you'll eat local Tasmanian ingredients framed with Asian flavours. Float over Sullivans Cove at The Glass House with a Japanese-inspired cocktail, or, over in Launceston, try quality Tasmanian wine and produce at Stillwater, which sits on the bank of the River Tamar. If the weather calls for paper-wrapped fish and chips by the sea, Dunalley Fish Market serves some of the best, fresh from the surrounding waters.