For many people visiting the tropics, tasting the local food and produce is all a part of the experience. So food lovers will be delighted to know there are many food tours, food markets, cooking classes, wineries and tasting opportunities in Far North Queensland.
If you want to enjoy a full day foodie tour without the hassle of self driving, then Food Trail Tours are a fantastic way to visit all the best foodie places with a tour guide.
Warwick has been running food tours for 13 years and knows all the best spots to visit. His tours include visits to a winery, coffee plantation, macadamia farm, chocolate and cheese factory.
They also include a stop for delicious Devonshire tea by Lake Barrine. This tour is a great way to get an overview of food in the tropics and allows you to meet some producers that you wouldn’t be able to meet on your own.
The idea of taking a cooking class somewhere unique and exotic is definitely high on most people’s lists and Rainforest Bounty run fantastic monthly cooking classes in the Atherton Tablelands.
Located beside a creek within a rainforest setting (in Malanda) the day starts with fresh scones and a cuppa before people break into smaller groups to prepare different dishes. At the end of the day everyone sits down to enjoy their efforts and sample the banquet of dishes that everyone has made.
Mareeba is well known for its thriving plantations and the coffee trail is a great drive for those who love coffee.
Jacques Coffee provide tours around their plantation but you can also take a ride on segways or a gyrocopter for something a bit different. There’s also a nice cafe with plenty of coffee products on offer.
On the other side of Mareeba, Skybury Farmgate has a cafe in their pole structured building with beautiful views over their plantations where they sell their locally grown coffee. They are also known for their red pawpaw so grab one while you’re there.
For real coffee nuts who want to learn all about the history of coffee making, head to Coffee Works in Mareeba where there is a large museum specialising in all things coffee. They also have a shop and restaurant where you can taste some of their coffees and chocolates.
The climate in Far North Queensland is also good for growing tea so tea lovers don’t need to miss out.
There are a couple of notable tea plantations in the region, and if you’re staying in hotel accommodation you will probably have come across their teabags in your room.
Nerada Tea’s plantation is in the Tablelands so it’s a good place to stop if you’re doing a self-drive tour of the central Tablelands. They have a small cafe there and if you’re lucky you may also be able to spot a Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo in the trees.
The other major producer is the Daintree Tea Company, right in the middle of the Daintree.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to know where your food comes from, then farm tours are a great way to better understand the paddock to plate philosophy. In Far North Queensland, you can visit Charley’s Chocolate Farm in Mission Beach or Sweet Farm Tours in Mossman, which grows chocolate and sugar cane.
Both of these farms provide tours and taste testing and are a great way to sample fresh local produce and learn more about the people producing our food and how these products end up in our shops.
Picking your own strawberries is a lot of fun and you get to choose your own delicious fruit to add into your punnet, tub or bucket.
Shyalees Strawberries is located near Atherton and strawberry picking season in the tropical north is in September so if you’re visiting at that time make sure you pop in.
exotic fruit tastings
For people who don’t live in the tropics, being able to sample some of the strange and unusual exotic fruits on offer is all a part of the experience of visiting.
Dragonfruit, custard apple, mangoes, mangosteens and a whole bunch of other fruits you’ve probably never heard of are definitely worth trying. The best way to do this is to visit an exotic fruit farm where you can taste them in a rainforest setting – there’s one in Cape Trib and one in Mission Beach.
Another interesting by-product of all these tropical fruits is tropical wines and liqueurs.
There are a few wineries around the region where you can pop in for a tasting session either as part of a tour or on your own if you’re self driving.
The ones to look out for are De Brueys near Emerald Creek in the Tablelands, Shannonvale Wineries near Port Douglas or Murdering Point Winery in Mission Beach.
Who doesn’t like ice cream on a hot tropical day?
Locally made ice cream is available at a couple of fruit orchards in the Daintree, which are made from their own fruit produce. There are lots of unique flavour combinations and many are incredible, including the fruit ice cream that tastes like chocolate (black sapote).
If you’re driving around the Tablelands you can also stop in at the Emerald Creek Ice Creamery on the road between Kuranda and Mareeba.
Known as the ‘food bowl of the north’, the Atherton Tablelands is a diverse agricultural area with farmers growing a range of fruit, vegetables, nuts as well as coffee and tea.
As you drive around the area you will see small stalls set up along the main roads where you can buy produce straight from the farmer.
Otherwise, you can visit Rusty’s Markets from Friday-Sunday or any of the other markets in the region.
travel nq fast facts:
- North Queensland’s biggest food event of the year is Taste Port Douglas, which has masterclasses from local and international chefs and restauranteurs
- Port Douglas is the ‘foodie capital’ of FNQ with many top class restaurants