Review: Gourmet food tours from Cairns offer an abundance of delicious delights

For those heading up to fabulous North Queensland, this tour is without doubt a foodie's dream day: the chance to be chauffeured around a selection of the region's best gourmet food producers, taste-testing their wares along the way. Review: Julietta Henderson

Gourmet food tours from Cairns

Gourmet food tours from Cairns. Image: Julietta Henderson

4 stars

Gourmet food tours from Cairns with Food Trail Tours

Tropical North Queensland is a burgeoning destination for foodies, and these gourmet food tours from Cairns offer visitors the chance to taste the very best of the region. Travel through the Atherton Tablelands in an air-conditioned minibus, with hotel pick-up and drop-off. Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

As one of the most abundant food bowls in the country, the Tropical North Queensland region is a burgeoning destination for foodies looking to experience its spectacular seafood, meats, locally produced dairy, coffee, chocolate and foraged Indigenous specialties.

It’s wonderful to see local operators taking the opportunity to showcase the wonderful tastes of the tropics alongside its magnificent natural attractions, and Warwick James of Food Trail Tours is aiming to do just this with his full-day gourmet food tours from Cairns and the Northern Beaches around the lush Atherton Tablelands.

It’s an early start at 7.30am, but on a glorious Cairns ‘winter’ morning that’s certainly no hardship. As we board the bus and meet our companions for the day (Warwick’s tours offer small group sizes and it’s just five of us today), we’re presented with a complimentary eco-bag in which to carry any food and wine purchases – a lovely touch, and very handy, as it turns out!

Food tours from Cairns

Image courtesy of Lake Barrine Teahouse Cafe

As we head out of Cairns and up the Gillies Range to the Tablelands, Warwick’s extensive knowledge of the local region ensures a wonderful commentary to pass the journey as we travel to our first stop – the volcanic crater, Lake Barrine. The teahouse on the lake has achieved legendary status for its homemade scones, jam and cream, and they certainly don’t disappoint. Luckily, there’s a short rainforest walk planned to show us the magnificent twin Kauri pines overlooking the lake, so that extra scone was justified – surely?

After a relaxing and very pleasant drive through the rolling hills of the Atherton Tablelands, the next stop on these gourmet food tours from Cairns is the renowned Gallo Dairyland cheese factory where, once again, Warwick’s diverse knowledge comes to the fore. After a viewing of the factory floor and a short video it’s time for the tastings. Warwick talks us through samples of several cheeses and chocolates before letting us loose to continue tasting the products and make some purchases. Oh yes – blessed are the cheesemakers.

Food tours from Cairns

Gourmet food tours from Cairns. Image: Julietta Henderson

We’ve still got one more place to visit before lunch and as a die-hard macadamia lover, it’s the one I’ve been looking forward to. Warwick has private access to the Wondaree farm and we’re treated to an agricultural lesson on macadamia growing and harvesting right at the source. After a wander through the plantation, Warwick shows us the working shed where the nuts are sorted and we’re able to taste a range of natural and flavoured nuts (the wasabi ones are the clear winner with our group).

We’re all starving by this time (not!), so it’s on to lunch at the historic Tolga Hotel for a fabulous meal of Spanish mackerel, juicy prawns, fresh fruit and salad (and yes, there are alternatives for those who don’t eat seafood). With all that local produce on one (huuuge!) plate, it feels like a mini tour of NQ on my palate.

Food tours from Cairns

Image: Julietta Henderson

Warwick’s commentary and good humour are intact but the group is looking decidedly sleepy and full as we trundle on to our next stop – De Brueys winery. The prospect of tasting their boutique range of exotic fruit wines, ports and liqueurs at the cellar door does wonders for the energy, however. After a generous tasting session (and a few more items added to the eco-bags) we’re off to our final foodie experience of the day – a coffee plantation. Ahh coffee…and perhaps cake?

On the way to Jaques Coffee Plantation Warwick takes us on a little side-trip around some cane paddocks where, as luck would have it, the farmers were in the throes of harvesting – a great (and interesting) little bonus!

Food tours from Cairns

Gourmet food tours from Cairns

At Jaques we tour the plantation and learn about the coffee making process, and by the time it’s finished I’m pretty keen on testing out the finished product! It’s been a long, food-filled day and sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee made from beans growing just metres away is a most satisfying end to the experience. And yes, several of the group did indulge in some of the homemade cakes – but not me. Honest.

For a VIP experience at each stop, informative commentary, lots of special touches along the way and of course – someone else to do the driving – these gourmet food tours from Cairns with Food Trail Tours are a must.

Julietta travelled as a guest of Food Trail Tours

Additional images: Bigstock


About the writer

Julietta Henderson is a travel and feature writer. Originally planning to visit London for six months, she ended up staying 10 years and now divides her time between her home in Australia and several months of the year in the UK, Italy and France. She has travelled extensively through Europe, North America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and Russia, and believes the keys to a great travel experience are an open heart, an open mind and an open-ended ticket. Apart from travel, she writes on subjects as diverse as photography, business, and well-being, and is halfway through her first novel. An avid lover of cold weather, Julietta’s master travel plan of never having to sweat again has somehow slipped out of synch and she’s currently on her third consecutive year of non-stop summer.

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