Like any good Aussie traveller, you’ve probably explored many of Queensland’s beautiful beaches, rainforests and reefs, and done your local weekend destinations to death. The problem is, even the paradisiacal spot can lose its appeal if seen too many times.
That’s where the Queensland Government’s Taste farm life campaign comes to the rescue. The campaign draws attention to the Sunshine State’s fabulous rural and regional farms and food producers, who need every bit of support visitors can offer as they recover from Covid-19. They want you to get off the popular tourist trails and visit them this winter.
You can find inspiration and information on places to visit at Taste farm life, but to get you started, we’ve suggested 10 hidden gems below that are dishing up farm-fresh food and unique experiences.
So buckle up, lovers of gourmet treats and fine eats, and get ready to discover some of the best home-grown produce, food trails and farm-gate sales in Queensland. You can plan your own visits by clicking on the links we’ve provided to learn more about opening times and events – these are working farms so bookings may be essential.
Take a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Brisbane or journey just 35 minutes from Gympie to reach Woolooga and discover CC’s Kitchen, which specialises in fine foods made from the rosella fruit grown on Petersen’s Farm. Yep, you don’t hear of rosella jam as much anymore but it’s just as yummy as you remember. CC’s award-winning gourmet condiments are 100 per percent made-and-produced at the farm (you can’t miss it – it boasts a ‘big rosella’ in true Queensland style) and are inspired by seasonal produce. The farm runs tours so don’t forget to check on upcoming dates and don’t leave CC’s without a jar of the iconic chilli rosella jam – it promises to pack a real punch!
Nothing beats biting into a sun-ripened strawberry and you’ll be able to pick your own delicious punnets from June to November when you visit Cooloola Berries, which is just 40 minutes north of Noosa at Wolvi on the Sunshine Coast. Cooloola Berries doesn’t just do PYO strawberries though – you can pick blueberries in December and January, try its award-winning produce at the farm cafe, which is open seven days a week, and don’t forget to keep an eye on its Facebook page for Sunday afternoon Paella in the Paddock events with live music and food.
Truffle Discovery Centre Stanthorpe
You don’t have to go to Italy to sample some delectable truffles. Gourmands will delight in unearthing all things truffle at this Stanthorpe truffiere (‘truffiere’ means land used to grow truffles), tasting local truffle products and making the difficult choice of which condiments to bring home – ready to be shaved onto scrambled eggs, pasta or, well, anything! The discovery centre is open every Wednesday and on weekends. Entry is free and bookings aren’t required. If a trek to the Southern Downs isn’t on the cards, you can also try and buy Stanthorpe Truffiere products at the Gallery Walk Tasting Gallery at Mount Tamborine in the Gold Coast Hinterlands. Check out the Truffle Discovery Centre’s site for information on opening times.
Towri Sheep Cheeses
Cheese lovers rejoice. Towri Sheep Cheeses is just one hour’s drive from Brisbane’s CBD, which makes a weekend visit a breeze. Join Towri’s popular tour, held on the first Saturday of each month, for a milking demonstration, cheese tasting, morning tea and to learn the ins and outs of cheese-making. Or gather a group of friends and book in for a cheese-making workshop with cheese-maker Carolyn Davidson. You’ll get to bring home your very own handmade cheese – what dinner guest isn’t going to be impressed by that? There’s also Jamming With The Lambs, a fabulous dining event with live jazz, in late June. Bookings for Towri’s tours and workshops are essential. You can find more info on Jamming With The Lambs on Towri’s website.
Running Creek Beef
If you happen to be roaming the beautiful Scenic Rim during one of the region’s regular farm-gate weekends, be sure to stop by the Running Creek Beef farm to stock up on free-roaming, grass-fed beef from the mountain pastures of this family-owned farm. Second-generation cattle farmers Rod and Debbie Richardson treasure their Sahiwal cattle, a breed that doesn’t require invasive chemical tick treatments, which helps ensure they live a low-stress life. The couple also welcome guests to their Running Creek Cottage farm-stay accommodation that lets visitors get involved in farm life, from swimming and fishing in Running Creek to feeding the horses. Contact Running Creek Beef directly via its website for more information on visiting and staying at the farm.
If cooking is your meditation, you’ll be in bliss visiting Rainforest Bounty in Malanda, an innovative agricultural destination just over one hour’s drive from Cairns. Established by Geraldine Maguire and her husband to help preserve and showcase native Australian rainforest fruits, the farm is a leader in regenerative farming practices. Booking into one of Rainforest Bounty’s cooking classes, special lunches or dinners, buying a jar of its Ooray plum sauce or stopping in for the Ooray Plum Festival, which runs from September 25-26, is a treat for the senses and a chance to learn something new.
Fruit Forest Farm
Nestled between Tully and Mission Beach in Far North Queensland, Fruit Forest Farm is a 220-acre farm surrounded by World Heritage rainforest. This unusual farm, established by third-generation local farmers Peter and Alison Salleras, focuses on sustainably farming exotic fruit trees. It offers two-hour guided tours every Saturday from April to September (and can put on one-off tours by appointment), where you can meet the farmers and pick fruits such as jackfruit, pomelo, rambutan and mangosteen fresh from the tree. Bookings are essential and can be made online at the farm’s website.
If your love language is a double-shot flat white, visiting Jaques Coffee while you’re in Tropical North Queensland is a must-do. With 85,000 coffee trees and fully functioning roastery in Mareeba, Jaques Coffee allows you to opt for a self-guided tour or a longer guided tour that takes you behind-the-scenes of the roastery and coffee-tree plantation and includes tastings and bags of coffee beans to take home. Before heading back on the road, enjoy lunch at the on-site cafe featuring local and seasonal produce and stock up in the gift shop for your coffee-fanatic friends.