Better known for its 74 islands and some seriously sensational sailing, the Whitsundays is also a force with which to be reckoned on the Queensland dining scene. And really, what better way to work up an appetite than a day out in the fresh salty air?
Breakfast in Bowen
Bowen recently made world headlines following a publicity stunt in which its iconic 'Big Mango' was stolen. All jokes aside, this northern-most town centre in the Whitsundays is also known as Queensland's salad bowl, with its mangos and abundance of tomatoes – 55 per cent grown here supply the entire country. Bowen became entrenched on the menu a few years ago following the filming of the movie Australia. Stop at Jocheim's Pies in the main street for a Jackman Special – a Hunky Aussie Beef Pie; a Baz Baguette; or, if you feel like it this early, a Kidmango Cheesecake. www.jocheimspies.com.au
Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation
You've heard of the Great Barrier Reef but what about the Great Barrier Bean? Well, discover it for yourself at one of Australia's largest coffee plantations near Proserpine. This is a great place for your morning Cup of Joe and where you can experience a plantation tour through the rich Arabica Coffee Trees.
Whitsunday Beefalo and Berkshire Gold
Proving that innovation is well and truly alive in the Whitsundays, head to the hills and to Conway Road to this unusual operation. Owner Christina della Valle sailed into Airlie Beach 20 years ago and is now one of the few beefalo breeders in the country. This curious cross between American Buffalo and cattle produces a lean, healthy red meat, low in cholesterol and high in protein. All the animals on this property are grass fed and hormone-free. Christina has also expanded her venture into Berkshire Gold pigs to produce in tender, juicy pork.
Make no bones about it, by lunch time you'll be ready to tackle Mr Bones, an Italian café and restaurant with one of the best views in town, overlooking the Airlie Beach lagoon. This is casual coastal dining at its best, but don't mistake the laidback surrounds for lackadaisical fare. This menu changes regularly – although an all-year-round favourite is the crumbed eggplant chips. And do try the pizza, we're told the lamb and baba ganoush is quite the adventure.
There's a couple of terrific options when it comes to dinner here. Depending on when you're in town, on the last Saturday of every month, you can participate in Airlie Beach Hotel's Localvore tour. This takes in some of the local farms with the hotel's chef and manager for an afternoon's education on the region's produce. Dinner is at Capers Restaurant where you'll experience the fresh food from the tour, matched with wines. If you're not in town at that time, we recommend Fish D'Vine Fish Café and Rum Bar for local seafood, washed down with plenty of rum fun. www.airliebeachhotel.com.au/localvore/; www.fishdvine.com.au
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Author: Tourism and Events Queensland
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