Food is so much a part of my enjoyment of life that when I go on holidays it always has to be about the delicacies of the region! So, on my recent discovery trip to tropical North Queensland, I spent a day meandering through the lush Atherton Tablelands, home to dairy, coffee, tea, chocolates, nuts, wine and spirits. As usual, I had undertaken extensive desktop research and had a list of “must visit” destinations. As is often the case where internet trawling is concerned, a number of allegedly essential stops have now been relegated to the “don’t bother” bin, and as a consequence, I have a much-refined, perfect foodie itinerary to share with you!
One important thing to remember about the tropics is that there is a reason the landscape is so lush and green. Yes, you guessed it – it rains – a lot. So, be prepared to get wet and muddy and, although cooler than the coast, the air can still feel thick and warm. It is however a welcome reprieve from those humid summer days.
Setting off from Cairns, head north up the picturesque Kuranda range, taking in the amazing scenery of Barron Gorge. Stop if you have time or continue heading west along the Kennedy Highway. If you want to get away from the tourist crowds and get close to nature, look out on your left for Davies Creek Road – follow this for about 6km (some of which is unsealed) until you reach Davies Creek National Park – an awe-inspiring gorge featuring a waterfall and water holes for swimming.
As your tummy starts to rumble, head straight to Coffee Works in Mareeba where you can revel in tastings of local coffee, chocolates, teas and liqueurs, have some morning tea and buy some goodies in the gift shop. Save some appetite though, because next stop is Mt Uncle Distillery, a wonderful rustic cellar door where you can taste locally made vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and liqueur. You can also lounge on the leather couches overlooking native woodland at the cafe, sipping a cocktail made from local products, paired with some enticing food. I couldn’t resist buying a bottle of the Botanic Australis Gin – made from a structured blend of 14 native Australian botanics – just add ice and a slice of lime – delicious!
Hopefully you will still have some intestinal fortitude to head to Gallo Dairyland for yet more tastings, this time of cheese and chocolate. I can highly recommend the dried mango dipped in dark chocolate and the lactose-free Gallozola – a mild yet tangy blue cheese.
These are my top three picks, and require a fair amount of driving, but if you still have time, head further south to Mungalli Creek Bio-Dynamic Dairy past Millaa Millaa for some great tasting yoghurt and cheese in a quaint farmhouse-style tearoom. If you are still hungry, they also serve home-style morning and afternoon teas and lunches.
I’ve really only scratched the surface on my Atherton Tablelands adventure, so I’m looking forward to a return visit to try more local produce and visit some of those outstanding natural wonders en-route. But this is a helpful taster!
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Note: This blog is part of Tiffin’s A-Z Guidebook – a collaborative project whereby travel bloggers can share their experiences on a journey through the alphabet. This month’s letter is “A”.