Food & Wine

Tropical North Queensland has good reason to claim the unique title of the 'Fruit Bowl of the World'.  Besides the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforests, there is also exotic produce.

With the Coral Sea on the eastern side yielding a bounty of fresh seafood, and the rich volcanic soils of the mild Tropical Tablelands on the western side producing the best in tropical fruits, vegetables, dairy produce, spices, coffee and teas, it is no wonder that high quality chefs from around the world converge on this bountiful region, giving Cairns and Port Douglas some of the best restaurant menus in the world.

And there is good reason why we hold this title.  Within the entire region, diverse micro-climates exist, each with different soil, rainfall and geographical conditions. This provides all the essential factors necessary for growing and producing a year-long supply of intriguing produce.  In fact, more varieties of exotic and tropical fruit grow in Tropical North Queensland than almost anywhere else in the world.

The area is now responsible for 90% of Australia's coffee production; and wineries and distilleries make wines and liqueurs from banana, coffee, mango, lychee, jaboticaba, bush cherry, mulberry, plum, star apple, passionfruit and citrus fruits.

Besides the differing climatic regions, the diversity is in part due to the fact that earlier last century people came from all over the world to work in the mining, pearling and sugar cane industries, bringing with them their individual cultures from all corners of the world.  Settling in the area, it was not long before the farmers recognized that tropical and exotic fruit was more suited to the tropical climate than the fruit of the southern regions of Australia and subsequently introduced many exotic plants that were ultimately to become a dynamic part of the region.

In addition to that, the success of this tropical region is also dependant on the fact that there are very few politically stable tropical regions around the world, with high agricultural standards of research and development.

The rolling hills of the Atherton Tablelands are covered in tropical fruit plantations, farms and wineries, and are a feast for the senses. You can taste the wines and liqueurs and follow the journey of the local produce from branch to bottle.  Look for papaya, longans, jackfruit, rambutan, ducasse, mangosteen, durian and lychees.  You can visit farms producing delightful cheeses, taste tropical icecreams, see Australia's largest mango plantation or taste the world's lowest acid, highest flavour pineapples, the 'Mareeba Gold'.  And if you yearn for something a bit more substantial than fruit and coffee, you can sample the famous local freshwater crayfish or lobsters, known locally as 'red claw'

To get the best out of this delectable trail you may choose drive yourself and take your time, following the Food & Wine Trail of the Great Tropical Drive - www.greattropicaldrive.com.au or take a tour and be shown the delights of the Tropical Tablelands in comfort.

In fact, the tastes of the tropics have never been more enticing.  As well as the Tropical Tablelands, Cairns, Port Douglas, and Townsville have all recently undergone a culinary renaissance. Top chefs in the region are winning national awards, while others are moving into the region to establish city-slick eateries, serving fabulous food using fresh local produce of the tropical north.  With a dedication to local produce and experience in crafting native ingredients into modern exciting cuisine, our award winning restaurants offer a range of exquisite dishes, specialising in sustainable Australian regional produce.

North Queensland's seafood has long been famous throughout the country and is in big demand overseas. Where better to sample the delicacies of the deep than close to the reef and rivers where they are caught? Compared with southern Australia, Europe, America and Japan, even mudcrabs, lobsters, large prawns and premium fish such as coral trout and barramundi are excellent value and the dishes created by our chefs are innovative and exciting.  Tasting your way around the the Far North is like travelling the world.



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