What better way to travel than to eat your way from place to place? Beyond the pristine rainforests, waterfalls, walking tracks and quaint towns of the Atherton Tablelands, you’ll discover fruit wineries, dairies, coffee plantations, fruit farms and quaint cafes. And that’s just to start! From chocolate to smoked barra, here’s just a taste of what to do when exploring North Queensland.
Kuranda is famous as the “Village in the Rainforest”, so you can trust that wherever you dine, you’ll be surrounded by lush green foliage. Stop in one of the character-filled restaurants, cafes or bars in the historic buildings lining the main street, then taste-test your way around the stalls packed with local flavours, from German sausages to homemade fudge. Do you have a sweet tooth? You’ll love a trip to the Kuranda Candy Kitchen to learn the old art of candy-making, and the Honey House to see the bees at work buzzing in their hives. Still up for sweets? Drop into Ice Cream Barons for one of their amazing tropical flavoured ice creams. They come in all kinds of unique flavours, like custard apple, avocado and jaboticaba.
Once you’re full: Check out the markets, and local and arts and crafts shops.
If you like history, you’ll love the National Trust listed buildings of Yungaburra. And what’s better is that you can sip award-winning Devonshire teas on the shores of beautiful Lake Barrine, in a grand old timber tea house built in the 1930s. They offer breakfast and lunch too, but if you’re around for dinner, you certainly won’t be missing out! In town there are some fabulous restaurants to choose from, all capitalising on fresh local produce. Otherwise you could catch your own fresh fish from Lake Tinaroo, a favourite local fishing spot, and cook it up on one of the BBQs. To take it all the way to gourmet, first head to Gallo Dairyland – set on a fully operational dairy farm – to pick up some artisan cheeses for pre-dinner nibbles and handmade chocolates for desert.
Once you’re full: Be amazed by the famous Curtain Fig Tree and take a cruise on Lake Barrine.
While Mareeba has tonnes to eat, it’s a lot about what you can drink too. So head straight to the Golden Pride Mango Winery for a guided tour before tucking into some mango wine. Mango is a typical North Queensland flavour! For more variety, duck into De Bruey’s Boutique Winery for fruit wines ranging from lychee to bush cherry and passionfruit, before sampling the prize-winning banana, citrus and coffee liqueurs at Mt Uncle Distillery. Prefer coffee altogether? There are numerous coffee plantations around Mareeba to explore, including the Skybury Australian Coffee Centre which offers plantation and roastery tours. Enjoy a brew in their cafe overlooking the very fields it came from. As you drive around, pick up some local fruit and nuts from the roadside stalls and farm gates.
Once you’re full: Cleanse the palate with an exotic sorbet at Emerald Creek Ice Creamery.
For the real foodie connoisseurs, Malanda offers the chance to not only taste, but learn. Rainforest Bounty make and sell their own gourmet condiments using native Australian rainforest fruits. But they also have a cooking school where you can learn how to make the most of the local flavours – then eat it! Be sure to book ahead though. If you’re a tea-lover and you’re interested in learning about how it’s grown and processed, don’t miss the Nerada Tea Visitors Centre for a tour of the factory and a fresh cuppa. If you’re around for lunch, the Malanda Dairy Centre is in the middle of town and has a retro milk bar restaurant with scrumptious and creative meals. While you’re there, check out the museum and join a milk factory tour.
Once you’re full: Discover the art trail of colourful mosaics showcasing the town’s history.
Around Millaa Millaa
Millaa Millaa is a tiny little town with some unique foodie finds in its midst. Just 10 minutes up the road in tiny Tarzali, you simply must explore the Tarzali Lakes Aquaculture Centre and Smokehouse. With smoked barramundi, red claw and jade perch, as well as chorizo, sausages and other tasty treats, it’s all too good to resist. They also have fresh raw fish on offer. Afterwards, drop into Mungalli Creek Dairy for amazing organic and biodynamic goods. Expect delicious natural set yoghurts, ice creams, soft cheeses and milks, and if you stop for a bite, spectacular views from the cafe and tea house.
Once you’re full: Take a rainforest walk to Millaa Millaa Falls and Mungalli Falls.