The ultimate Queensland food tour
FROM seafood freshly plucked from the ocean, to the burgeoning array of craft beer microbreweries to farms producing stunning local produce and an ever-changing line-up of restaurants, there's so much to explore on Queensland's food scene.
Our interest has never been greater, our obsession partly fuelled by top-rating television shows such as MasterChef and MKR, and one way of getting up to speed with what's happening in the food world is to take a food and beverage tour and let the experts bring you up to speed on local offerings.
More and more tours are popping up all over the state offering people a chance to sample some of the delicious fresh local produce that our regions have to offer.
Gold Coast Food and Wine Tours director Karen Inglis-Turner launched the company to cater for the rapidly growing interest in food tours, and says Queensland has an abundance of delights just waiting to be discovered. "Food tourism is one of our fastest growing markets," she said.
"We have local artisans serving up incredible fare every day. I've been part of the local industry for many years and there's never been a better time to be a foodie. I love supporting businesses by showcasing their best food and drinks. I look for their specialities - the things that make them really stand out."
One venue that's a regular on her tours is Clifford's Grill and Lounge at the new Voco Gold Coast Hotel in Surfers Paradise where executive chef Dan Smith shows off the region's bounty with seafood and signature tasting platters. "I like doing the food tours as the crowd the tour attracts are like-minded folks that are genuinely interested in our product and how to produce it," he says.
"Signature tastes are often prepared with each demonstration slipping out a secret or two to the success of the offering, for example kiwi fruit marinating our super soft squid."
You'll find food tours operating across the state. Here's our guide to some of the options:
SOUTHERN SESSIONS FULL-DAY BREWERY TOUR
This full-day tour kicks off at Brisbane Brewing Co in West End with a tasting paddle to sample and an explanation of the beer brewing process. Next it's on to Revel Brewing Co in Bulimba for pizza and beers to match before heading off to two more breweries in Yerongpilly and Salisbury in the city's south. Return transfers are included. This is just one of the options offered by Hop on Brewery Tours which also run a Best of Brisbane outing, a Gold Coast tour, a Western Explorer taking in Brisbane's west, as well as half-day options for those pushed for time.
BRISBANE FOOD TOUR: A TASTE OF QUEENSLAND
Beginning with a coffee tasting, moving on to sampling local beer and wines with a cheese platter and then settling in for lunch and a cocktail finale, this four to five-hour tour will introduce you to some of the best food and beverages in Brisbane. It includes visits to four venues, on a small-group tour.
OFF THE EATEN TRACKThis Cairns food tour is conducted by bike and visits local producers so participants can sample their products at the source. Highlights include a visit to the bustling Rusty's Markets in the heart of the city, sampling fruit, ice cream, seafood and coffee. (Other tours include the Bike to Brewery and a Local Foodie Gems.)
GOLD COAST FOOD AND WINE TOURS
An innovative progressive dinner tour on the Gold Coast Light Rail G-Link (a popular choice for birthdays and hen's parties) is just one of the ways to explore the Gold Coast's diverse food scene. Walking tours through Burleigh Heads, Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise, partaking in dishes and drinks at various restaurants, as well as a cocktail making demonstrations and mini-masterclasses from chefs are another option. There's also a Tamborine Mountain food and wine tour. Tour goers get to learn about the hidden gems and foodie secrets as well as meeting the people behind the food.
Operates: Selected dates
SUNSHINE COAST FOOD TOUR: FARM-TO-TABLE INDULGENCE
This eight-hour journey travels through the hinterland and along the coast, showcasing local produce and ingredients from the region with additional stops along the way to ensure you can take in the views from various vantage points. A four-course lunchtime experience with wine and cocktails also gives you the opportunity to stay in Noosa if you want to extend your stay.
Operates: Monday, Wednesday-Sunday
BUNDY FOOD TOURS
The Saturday Morning Taste of Bundaberg Experience is all about sampling the delights of the Bundy region and includes lots of stop-offs including visits to Australia's largest fig farm and avocado, dragonfruit or watermelon farms, depending on the season. Morning tea at Alloway Farm Market features freshly roasted espresso coffee from Barking Dog Coffee. Other highlights include a master rum and gin distiller at Kalki Moon and the chance to sample taste beer at The Brewhouse. The Wednesday Afternoon Taste of Bundaberg Experience begins on the north side of Bundaberg visiting farms with crops including macadamias, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, beans, tomatoes, Tahitian limes, strawberries, pineapples, mangoes, lettuces and herbs, roses and gerberas. The next stop is to see butcher Rick Elliot and his team at Bundy Chop Shop and the producers at Bundy Limes, Meadowvale Mushrooms, and Prichard Farms. The final stop is at Cha Cha Chocolate.
Price: $109 per adult and $59 for children (under 17), $105 for concession card holders.
Operates: Saturday; Wednesday
Experience a selection of the Sunshine Coast's growing crop of breweries starting with Macleod Brewing Company on the Landsborough-Maleny Road in Bald Knob. The next stop is in the hinterland town of Maleny at Brouhaha Brewery for a tasty lunch and another tasting paddle of locally crafted beer, ranging from sours to saisons, pale ales to stouts. Moffat Beach Brewing is the final stop. The brewery is situated close enough to the beach that you can hear and see the waves while you sample their award-winning beers. The company also offers a Coastal Hop tour and a Noosa Brewery Trail.
MT TAMBORINE WINE
A wine tasting tour on Tamborine includes visits to a selection of wineries that might include Witches Falls Winery, Cedar Creek Vineyard and Winery, Mason Wines and Mount Tamborine Vineyard and Winery. Guests will sample a number of varietals as well as boutique crafted liquors, beers, cheeses and fudge. Full day personalised tours are available as well.
Operates: Seven days a week
BRETT'S OUTBACK TASTING ADVENTURES
Billed as a "foodie tour from Port Douglas you will thoroughly enjoy and remember", this experience has participants tasting some of the best food and wine that the Atherton Tablelands has to offer. With such a variety of contrasting landscapes from lush rainforest, dairyland to savannah plains, farmers are able to grow a diverse range of crops including bananas, coffee, sugar cane, avocados, mangoes, macadamia nuts, and citrus fruits.
Stops include Jaques Family coffee plantation, Mount Uncle Distillery, Gallo Dairyland, Golden Drop Winery and Tjapukai (which means rainforest) Aboriginal Cultural Park.
XXXX BREWERY TOURS-DAY STANTHORPE
Take a journey through one of Brisbane's landmark attractions and explore the world of XXXX. This brewery tour is at the cheaper end of the food tours and takes you through the 135-year history of the iconic amber nectar in 90 minutes. You'll learn all about your favourite beer: its world-class brewing methods, quality ingredients and, most importantly, how to pour the perfect pint.
Price: Adults $32, children $18
Granite Highlands Maxi-Tours specialise in wine and winery tours in the Stanthorpe region, with the tours selecting stops from 45 cellar doors. There are multiple half, full-day and personalised tours leaving from Brisbane, Toowoomba, Warwick, Dalby and Goondiwindi as well as package tours. The full-day Stanthorpe tour visits five to six wineries and can include visits to various attractions. Lunch is included.
Price: $110pp/ min eight people
TEMPTED IN THE TWEED
Take in some of the Tweed's iconic restaurants, including Fins, Osteria, Taverna and Paper Daisy. This is an absolutely spectacular day of fresh local food, award-wining restaurants and beautiful scenery. All food and a glass of wine is included at each restaurant and you get to travel in luxury vehicles. A gift completes the tour.
Operates: Saturday and Sunday
THE ART OF FOOD
This tour is just south of the border and combines food and art. The day starts with pastries and coffee before heading to the Murwillumbah's Wednesday markets to sample local produce and meet the farmers. Mavis's Kitchen, at the base of Mt Warning is next on the agenda, where you will enjoy a tasting plate of their signature dishes. After lunch, drive through farmland and sugarcane to the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre, for a tour of the latest exhibitions followed by afternoon tea overlooking the Tweed Valley. (The company also runs Tempted in the Tweed tour visiting Osteria, Taverna and Paper Daisy. All food and a glass of wine is included. $299, operates Saturday and Sunday.)
QUEENSLAND FOOD TOUR: ULTIMATE DELECTABLE EXPERIENCE
This first-class tour includes both premium car and helicopter transportation, visiting fine-dining establishments in the outer Brisbane region. After a wine tasting and a cheese platter at a winery, its off to entrees and mains with paired wines at two locations followed by dessert, coffee and wine tasting in the Scenic Rim. The experience will dent your wallet, but it includes two bottles of locally produced wine to take home. It's a way to combine the best of regional produce with a scenic adventure.
FULL-DAY WINE TOUR
Visiting five locations of wineries, vineyards and cellar doors, the trip also includes a two-course lunch at one of the winery restaurants. The company also operates a number of trips including a full-day Grape 'n Hops Escape.
Contact 0415 454 313 for availability