So you’ve booked your trip to the Whitsundays. Everyone has told you about the white silicon sands of Whitehaven beach and the regatta of sails dotted throughout the vast blue ocean passages connecting the 74 jungle covered islands of the Whitsundays. But these are just a feast for the eyes – you’re in store for the feast of a lifetime.
You hop off your early flight into Whitsunday Coast airport, the start of our Whitsundays food trail. The airport café may be tempting to fill that caffeine fix – but hold out a little longer, because Proserpine has a little surprise in store.
BUT FIRST, COFFEE
Just one minute north of Proserpine, you’ll notice a peculiar crop nestled next to the highway. More than 100,000 coffee trees, producing six tonnes of beans per year, make up the Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation. Coffee is traditionally grown under the canopy of high altitude rainforests, but the hardy Dwarf Catuai Arabica bean grown at Whitsunday Gold can handle the full sun and low altitude.
From planting, to harvest, to roasting, all 20 stages of production occur on-farm, ensuring a fresh flavoured brew.
“It’s the same as any fruit or vegetable; when it’s literally come from the paddock outside, into our café, there’s so much more freshness to the bean – our flavour is in our freshness,” Ally Simpson, Whitsunday Gold manager says.
“Our flavour is in our freshness”
Alongside award winning coffee, the café has a real local flavour, where customers are known by name and all the staff are Proserpine born and bred.
After wandering through the plantation tour and working up an appetite, ride that coffee fix to the next treat in this Whitsundays food trail.
WHOLEFOODS AND A CROC SIGHTING
Just three minutes’ drive toward Airlie from Whitsundays Gold coffee, Crocodile Café and Wholefoods greets customers with a three-metre crocodile (a fake croc – not one from the Prossie river).
With no set menu and all-organic produce, the team at Crocodile Café can provide your groceries for the week, or just fill you up for one meal. For those with food allergies, the chefs are careful to take care of your every need.
Ten minutes’ drive from the café and the next stop on our Whitsundays food trail, is a farm producing a most unusual meat.
MOST UNUSUAL MEAT
Whitsunday Beefalo and Berkshire gold brings a heritage pork breed back to life, and the unique combination of American Buffalo and hardy Brahman to Australia.
Just off Conway Road on the way to Airlie beach, more than 120 hectares of lush green pasture feeds these bovine beauties from start to finish. Free from hormones and antibiotics the Beefalo breed provide a richer and healthier cut with Omega 3s, very high iron and low cholesterol.
An Old English breed of pork, the Berkshire golds are highly regarded for their meat marbling, moisture and tenderness. Combine that with a free range and healthy lifestyle, the Whitsunday-grown product embodies the saying “a happy animal is a tasty animal”.
Since starting with the Beefalo in 1999, owner and manager, Christina della Valle says that there has been a shift in consumer demands.
“People are beginning to understand the importance of gut health, and young families are now asking more and more where their meat comes from and how their meat lived,” Christina said.
A number of local outlets sell Whitsunday Beefalo and Berkshire meat, however, Christina is up early every Saturday morning to sell her products and talk with customers at the Airlie Beach Markets – the next stop on our Whitsundays food trail.
MARKETS ON THE SAND
We have arrived at the heart of the Whitsundays – Airlie Beach. Follow the esplanade lined with gourmet restaurants and cafés to find yourself at the foreshore and home of the Airlie Beach markets.
Sitting right on the water’s edge, there couldn’t be a more picturesque spot to pick up some local fruit and veg for the week, or to have brunch with your toes in the sand.
Finally, wind your way through the jungle, beyond Airlie Beach to the scenic Shute Harbour. This is where visitors can head out to the islands and reef, while local fishermen haul in their seafood bounty.
SEE THE SEAFOOD
If you fancy yourself as an angler, the public jetty is the perfect place to drop a line, with locals frequently hooking themselves something fresh for dinner.
If you’re like me and don’t find much luck fishing, then there’s another way to get your hands on some fresh local seafood.
Fishi is a local fishing boat and seafood service that catches all their products in Whitsunday waters. They deliver freshly caught and packed seafood platters right to your hotel door.
Find yourself a vantage point, settle in with a fresh seafood platter and a glass of your favourite wine, and take in one of the famous Whitsunday sunsets.