Dine Farm-to-Table: Whitsunday, Queensland
Updated: Oct 26
Farm-To-Table adds a delicious eco element to travel in the Whitsundays. Ecotourism and the Whitsunday region go hand in hand thanks to world-famous beaches and wildlife. According to World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), natural experiences are at the heart of Ecotourism. We discovered the Whitsunday region is also a food basket, which when combined with the farm-to-table concept, is another fun way to add an eco element to your time in the Whitsundays.
9 Farm-To-Table Experiences in the Whitsunday Region
In fact, the UNWTO describes ecotourism as going beyond experiencing nature, also, ecotourism supports the community's social, economic and environmental health. The Whitsunday region grows a range of food and products to try as a Farm-To-Table experience which is a fun way to work towards the UNWTO goals. The UNWTO website is here.
What is Farm-To-Table
Farm-to-Table is a fuzzy social concept with good intentions. On the face of it, Farm-to-Table products are a healthy option that lessens negative environmental and social impacts. In a perfect world purchasing local, for instance, would reduce carbon footprint and improve nutrition due to fewer food miles at the same time as increasing benefits to the grower by cutting out the middleman. However, not everything grown is good for the body and not all production is great for the environment, food miles or not. I like to explore the positive and negative impacts of food on both the planet and myself. CNN has an interesting critique of the Farm-to-Table concept here. At the very least take your time and find out a little more about where food comes from and indulge in some delicious top-quality food.
NOTE: Access to a kitchen will broaden the variety of produce that can be purchased and processed while travelling. Book accommodation with a kitchen, otherwise, enjoy the restaurant and resort menus. Access to transport can take you off the beaten path to discover more culinary treasures.
9 Farm-To-Table Experiences in the Whitsunday Region
Prawns have iconic status and have come to symbolise Australia's casual outdoor approach to dining. This is immortalised by Paul Hogan in the movie Crocodile Dundee with the line "slide another shrimp on the barbie".
Prawns in the Whitsunday region give us the opportunity to explore two different ways of sourcing food. Wild caught and large scale farming. I'm not sure if produce from large scale operations is suitable for farm-to-table as it is common to only support smaller farmers. Below are the restaurants where we enjoyed local prawns.
Local fishing boats operate in coastal waters that are regulated by Australian authorities. A number of species are caught and supplied to wholesale and retail outlets. We enjoyed delicious local wild caught King Prawns.
Australian-owned, Pacific Reef Fisheries operate a large scale aqua farm supplying millions of tons of Black Tiger Prawns direct to wholesalers, markets, retail and the food service industry. They pride themselves on sustainable land-based production and have gained certification from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which certifies environmentally and socially responsible seafood. "ASC certification is the highest global standard for sustainable and responsible aquaculture". Pacific Reefs website here. Local restaurants and fishmongers supply the freshest of these prawns with as few food miles as possible. Comment if you consider these prawns a farm-to-table option.
2. Local Restaurants and Resorts
Birds Fish Bar
Birds sell a range of fresh seafood cooked in their restaurant or fresh to take home. The restaurant serves fast food such as gourmet fish and chips or burgers.
Birds is a family-owned business specialising in fresh, local and wild. Seafood is caught daily by the local trawlers that are docked next to their restaurant. Their seafood is clearly labelled by species and as "local and wild caught". Birds website here.
At Henry Darwen Drive, Bowen, Queensland, Australia Location
Cape Glouchester Resort
The menu is packed with local produce and fresh fish. Eat next to the sea where the fish swims free. I enjoyed the locally farmed Tiger Prawns with a delicious fresh salad and Derek had wild-caught Coral Trout.
At 128 Glouchester Avenue, Glouchester Location Map
Bowen River Hotel
At 45 Strathmore Street Collinsville Location Map
The Whitsunday Region's tropical climate and good soils support hundreds of Mango orchards ranging from backyard affairs to large commercial operations. Mango season starts in September. You will find delicious fresh local Mangoes in markets and on menus throughout the Whitsundays during the season.
The Big Mango - The Visitor Centre, A1 Bruce Highway, Bowen sells locally produced Mango products all year round. My favourite is Mango Sorbet and I also love mango soap.
4. Street Markets
Street markets operate in the true spirit of ecotourism. Small businesses, that are often concerned with organic and sustainable growing methods, sell directly to the public. Get a taste of the tropics from local growers and producers.
Whitsunday Farmers' Market
They are held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 6 am till Midday.
At Whitsunday Gold Coffee 12505 Bruce Hwy, Hamilton Plains QLD 4800, Australia. Location Map
Bowen Community Sunday Markets
Open every Sunday morning with a range of products including stalls from local growers. Look at all that local honey! There is also plenty of retail and street food stalls.
At Hanson Park, Horseshoe Bay Road, Bowen Location Map
5. Farmstay Accommodation
Glen Erin Farmstay / Bush Camp
At 222 Mookara Rd, Bowen QLD 4805, Australia Location
Phone: +61 408 870 599
Please contact the accommodation for availability. More about farm stays here.
6. Factory Shops
Sarina Sugar Shed
The sugar industry is big business in the Whitsundays and surrounding regions. Sarina boasts the only working miniature sugar mill and distillery in Australia. This tourism venture is run by locals with the support of the MacKay Regional Council. Explore the local sugar industry and experience the production process of this everyday item. If you are inclined, sample the local liquor and enjoy many other sugary products for sale. Sarina Sugar Shed is on my wishlist for the next time we visit Queensland.
At the Field of Dreams, Parkland, Sarina Location
Whitsunday Gold Coffee
Whitsunday Gold operates a coffee plantation that harvests and processes coffee beans onsite. The beans are for sale to take home or get a cup of their coffee and a meal from the onsite cafe. Delicious!
We also enjoyed the farmyard animals and parrot aviary. Great value!
Unfortunately, the factory was not operational during our visit. Also, I found no information about farming methods and types of crops grown.
At 12505 Bruce Hwy, Hamilton Plains QLD 4800, Australia Location
7. Road Side Stalls
Stalls dot the roadside throughout the Whitsunday region. They sell fresh, local and seasonal produce. These cooking bananas are from a small organic farm and are sold alongside a recipe for a nutritious snack!
Stalls are run on an honesty box system and take cash only.
8. Farm Shops
Stackelroth Farms Bowen
Is a large-scale market garden supplying retail outlets around Australia and beyond. We enjoyed a range of exceptionally fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm shop. Watermelon and pineapples are my favourites. The shop is run on an honesty box system taking cash only.
34 Kelsey Rd, Bowen, Queensland. Location Map
9. Fishing Charters
I am from a family of keen fisher people so I know how much fun it can be. Try https://fishingbooker.com/ to book a charter casting off from the world-famous Airlie Beach.