The Ginger Factory is one of the Sunshine Coast’s best-loved family attractions, and for a limited time it’s home to the Gruffalo Trail augmented reality experience. Enjoy some monster fun in the forest, do a tour and tasting at the factory, see a bee show, and ride the Ginger Train. It’s all aboard for a great day out! Duration: 9am to 5pm daily
Warm, spicy, invigorating, and even explosive; if this doesn’t give you a craving for the zingy taste of ginger, then maybe a trip to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is just what you need to cleanse the palate.
Nestled away from the coastline in the town of Yandina lies The Ginger Factory — Buderim Ginger’s visitor experience. ‘Buderim in Yandina?’, I hear you ask. To cut a long story short, the factory outgrew its Buderim beginnings about 40 years ago and has since resided on a beautiful nine-hectare property at Yandina.
Stepping inside, you instantly feel like you’re about to have a big adventure. The energy of the staff is infectious and the ‘big’ arrives in the form of a real-life Gruffalo. He’s a temporary resident at The Ginger Factory, and I warn you, you’ll need to tackle the little fans first in order to get a photo with everybody’s favourite monster.
I’ve arrived just in time for the launch of the Gruffalo Trail — an adventure that melds reality with digital effects and will delight the whole family. Before you head into the deep dark forest, download the Gruffalo Spotters 2 App. This is where the fun begins. By wildly flapping your arms and stomping your feet, the characters of the book, such as fox, mouse and owl come to life. You could spend hours recording videos and taking photos of yourself going wild in the woods, but for those who would rather watch from a distance (and have a laugh at someone else’s antics!), it’s a chance to enjoy a walk beneath shady trees and work up an appetite. After all, there’s ginger to eat!
If you are lucky enough to be here on a weekday, you’ll have the opportunity to see the factory in action. I’m visiting on a weekend, but there’s still plenty to do. We learn how ginger is grown and harvested, before being turned into the yummy products on offer in the Ginger Shop and online. You’ll also hear the story of how ginger found a home in Queensland. Prior to the Great Depression it was imported from China, but after a cut in supply, and with perfect growing conditions here (such as high rainfall, high humidity and rich volcanic soil), five farmers decided to invest in the future and plant a crop. The rest, as they say, is history.
While all of this is interesting, it’s the tasting that gets my mouth watering, and I’ve got to say it’s quite an eye opener to find out all the different ways you can use ginger to enhance the flavour of food!
The Ginger Factory will also introduce you to the fascinating world of the busy bee and the critical role it plays in life on our planet. The live bee show is a chance to look inside the working life of a hive (behind glass of course!), watch a bee smoking demonstration, and learn the extraordinary way bees communicate by doing the ‘waggle’ dance. It’s a lot to take in, but I leave with a broader understanding of what goes into every jar of honey — and we get to taste five different varietals, each with its own distinct flavour.
Processing so much information might sound exhausting, but never fear. You can relax and relive the magic of the childhood tale of the gingerbread man on a Disney-style boat cruise around the world. The story comes to life through animated puppets and effects, as the gingerbread man tries to escape some hungry chefs. This may be the cheapest overseas adventure on offer!
We end the day with our feet up on board the Moreton historic train. Now 120 years old, this former sugar cane train has been restored and given a new lease on life. The train passes through cool, shaded tropical gardens, and by a replica of an old sugar cane farm. The journey ends back at Ginger Town, where we have time for a spot of shopping for our favourite ginger treats.
All in all, I’ve been quite surprised at just how much there is to do at The Ginger Factory. With the Gruffalo in tow, it’s a monster day of family fun!
The Ginger Factory will be home to the Gruffalo Trail until September 2021.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Vanessa O’Hanlon is an Australian media personality and avid traveller. Her travels began with a flight to Egypt, a visit to the pyramids and a camel ride, and she knew there was no turning back. Since then, Vanessa’s backpack has seen a thing or two — from exploring relatively untouched Bhutan to braving the cold on the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro.