Tropical North Queensland: Places to eat and things to do


In partnership with Tourism Australia

Last summer’s bushfires have left their mark, and COVID-19 has kept tourists away, but regional centres are unfurling and waiting to welcome visitors. Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Tropical North Queensland have long been loved by foodies from all over, and with good reason. Plan your own trail to discover excellent cuisine, plus abundance of natural beauty and wildlife. And, while you’re feasting your senses, you’ll be giving a boost to the many locals who have been doing it tough.


Head up to Tropical North Queensland and learn about the tales and traditions of the Kuku Yalanji people, the Traditional Owners of the land. This immersive experience from Adventure North Australia will take you from coast to rainforest. You’ll learn time-honoured hunting and gathering skills for bush tucker as well as walk along the riverbanks of Mossman Gorge.


Summer Land Camels Homestead Cafe is definitely worth a visit.Source:Supplied

If your palate runs to more exotic tastes, the dishes at the Summer Land Camels Homestead Cafe are definitely worth writing home about. All manner of camel milk creations can be enjoyed – as well as checking out the Camel Milk Artisan Collection of skincare products at the Farm Store – and the best part is that you get to spend time in the company of the majestic camels.


Enjoy the vines and fields of lavender.Source:Supplied

About an hour’s drive from Brisbane and 90 minutes from the Gold Coast, chef Daniel Groneberg awaits at the Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm restaurant with a sumptuous seasonal menu, featuring the finest local ingredients. The property overlooks a six-hectare vineyard and an expanse of lavender fields with stunning views of the Scenic Rim mountains. Eat, drink and relax the day away, take a leisurely stroll around the property, and visit the cellar door and gift shop.


Time your trip to Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation to join a Crop-to-Cup tour of the coffee plantation on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Then move on to lunch, made from fresh local produce.


A tasting paddle at Scenic Rim Brewery.Source:Supplied

Located in the town of Mount Alford, just over an hour’s drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, is the small, family-owned Scenic Rim Brewery & Cafe. Mike’s craft brews and Wendy’s European-inspired homestyle cooking – think gourmet hot dogs and bitterballen (Dutch meatballs) – are the perfect combo to while away an afternoon. Test your tastebuds on their Giddy Gout Milk Stout.


Nu Nu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.Source:Supplied

For an unforgettable dining experience right on the beach, it’s hard to go past Tropical North Queensland standard bearer Nu Nu. A signature part of the Palm Cove experience, Nu Nu’s modern Australian menu includes dishes such as coal roasted green masala tiger prawns with curry leaf and yoghurt, and fried pork and green mango curry with mint, lemongrass and jasmine rice. Best of all, Nu Nu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a bar offering refreshing cocktails.


The term paddock-to-plate takes on a different meaning at Tommerup’s Dairy Farm, a sixth-generation working dairy farm located in the Lost World Valley region of the Scenic Rim. It’s a great escape from city life, and a chance to buy products direct from the source, such as milk-fed and heritage-breed free-range pork; paddock-raised, bottle-fed veal; corn- and grass-fed, paddock-raised lamb; and Jersey Girl dairy products made on the farm, as well as pastured eggs from open-range hens. Time your visit to coincide with one of the farm’s dining events throughout the year, including farm picnic day and the harvest table lunch.


The stunning Cairns waterfront location is unmissable.Source:Supplied

The stunning Cairns waterfront location is unmissable, and Ochre’s clever use of native Australian foods in modern dishes will have you sharing rave reviews with your foodie friends.


An independent craft brewery in Tropical North Queensland, Hemingway’s has been making

waves across the nation with its artisanal range of lagers and ales. The business has now also opened two expansive gastro brewpubs, in Cairns and Port Douglas, to cater to a thirsty and keen crowd of locals and visitors alike.


When it comes to discovering hidden gems, this is it. Nestled beside the lake, about halfway between Beaudesert and Boonah, The Overflow Estate 1895 has 2500 vines, which the owners claim each “have a name, a personality and a favourite position in our lives”. Testimony to that passion is the menu, which features local produce and The Overflow’s own wines. Dine at their cellar door, overlooking Lake Wyaralong Dam, to feel like you’re on an inland island.


Over in Burleigh Heads is a restaurant that has the appeal, looks and charm of a European bistro. Labart is focused on celebrating local, seasonal produce through a modern lens. On any given day, you could be enjoying Mooloolaba scallop with white asparagus in prawn and jamon XO sauce or Moreton Bay bug, with borlotti beans and cherry tomatoes. Go for the set lunch menu for a broader experience of the restaurant’s brilliant offerings – dessert included, of course.


Try out some of these new experiences in Queensland’s beautiful Tropical North.


The unique Museum of Underwater Art.Source:Supplied

The first underwater art museum in the Southern Hemisphere is now open in Townsville. Snorkel and dive tours to the submerged Coral Green House installation are now available with various local operators.


Flynn, a stylish new hotel by Crystalbrook, will open its doors this month. It’s set on the Cairns Esplanade and has 311 rooms and suites, some with views of the Coral Sea. Flynn also features two swimming pools, a restaurant-come-night market and a bar. The day spa will open in 2021.


Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel.Source:Supplied

This Cairns company combines ancient stories with eco-certified underwater safaris. Access the expertise of a marine biologist and Aboriginal sea rangers to understand the reef’s ecosystem and its connection to indigenous culture.

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