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For a region famed for its lavish beaches, the Sunshine Coast is now urging visitors to look beyond the golden sands and blue seas to the lush landscape, where an abundance of culinary delights are waiting to be devoured.

More and more visitors are seeking experiences that let them ‘taste’ a destination, and few regions are better stocked than the Sunshine Coast to claim the title of Queensland’s ‘Sunshine Pantry’. A new initiative designed to champion the region’s paddock-to-plate dining, fresh local produce and unique farm stays and encounters.

The Sunshine Coast benefits from a terrain crafted from volcanic activity some 25 million years ago which created rich soils that nurture world class dairy, meats, fruit, vegetables and herbs.

With the region home to more than 900 producers, Queensland’s Sunshine Pantry aims to connect visitors with a vast range of authentic food and beverage experiences, including:

 The perfect paddock-to-plate pairing

Boeuf Bourguignon, Steak Dianne and Beef Stroganoff. Mushrooms and beef have long been deemed the ultimate food pairing, and this family-run farm is serving up both in droves. Eastwell Farms can be found in the rolling hinterland pastures of Kin Kin and is home to a unique breed of cattle and exotic mushrooms. Visitors will be introduced to the farm’s regenerative practices (and unconventional mushroom varieties) through farm trails and open days – including the all-important tasting and online shop.

Sip on sunshine in the subtropical rainforest

If the Sunshine Coast could be bottled into one spirit, Sunshine & Sons would be the perfect genie. Step through the distillery door for an interactive experience worth raising a glass to. A tour is the best way to fully understand and appreciate the local favourite’s philosophy and commitment to sustainable production. Sip on the essence of the Sunshine Coast in the form of Pineapple Parfait Gin under the golden afternoon sunlight, served paired with a local cheeseboard from Woombye Cheese located just up the road.

 Indulge in a cheese tasting masterclass

From aged cheddars and ash brie, all the way to creamy camemberts, Woombye Cheese has established an enviable reputation for transforming local milk into world-beating cheeses. While the cheese has become available from outlets and restaurants across Australia, visitors to the Sunshine Coast can now taste their cheeses in Woombye in a new masterclass session in partnership with locally owned and run tour operator, Tasty Tours. Sample six different varieties in an interactive session best enjoyed with good company (like all good cheeses). Be sure to taste the Blackall Gold Washed Rind – recently voted Australia’s Best Cheese at the 2023 Australia Dairy Awards.

Connect the stories of Country and coast

Food is the staple of Saltwater Eco Tour’s Bushtucker Tour – where guests enjoy stories that connect coast and the culture of Kabi Kabi Country. Indulge on a range of mouthwatering Mooloolaba prawns, spanner crab or scallop ceviche as dolphins and turtles flit beneath the water. Learn the importance of the seasons and the way nature communicates in its own, beautiful language while toasting the glistening waters with a cocktail crafted using locally-sourced spirits with hits of bushtucker flavours and botanicals such as lemon myrtle and finger lime.

 A farm experience with a cuddly difference

For a one-of-a-kind feel-good encounter, plan a visit to QCamel farm – the world’s only certified organic camel dairy. Not only do they manufacture and sell high quality milk, feta and skincare products, QCamel also offers a ‘Camel Cuddles’ experience every Saturday. Over 100 of the farm’s gentle giants open their arms (well, necks) to welcome visitors and put their quirky personalities on show. After a cuddle, enjoy morning tea while gleaning insights into the farm operations and sample the variety of camel milk products on offer.

Fine dining to the backdrop of the Glass House Mountains

Exceptional local produce that speaks for itself is the culinary philosophy and mantra of Warrior Restaurant & Bar’s Head Chef, Graeme Mair. Opened in early 2023 and nestled among the native bushland at the Irwin family’s famed Crocodile Hunter Lodge, the restaurant’s menu concentrates on using local produce from handpicked Sunshine Coast farms and suppliers, complemented by crafted cocktails and an extensive wine list. Graeme’s culinary style is derived from a combination of classical techniques and championing local, ethically sourced ingredients. For the ultimate experience, stay the night next door at Crocodile Hunter Lodge, dine at Warrior Restaurant and spend the next day exploring Australia Zoo.

Brew your own blend

In the coastal hub of Caloundra, coffee lovers will be sure to enjoy Montville Coffee’s ‘Build your Dream Blend’ immersive workshop. Explore each step in the coffee-making process, from discovering the array of diverse global flavours available all the way through to what happens when turning coffee from bean to brew. Not only will guests leave well-educated on one of the world’s most consumed beverages and the developing countries in which majority of the world’s beans are sourced, they’ll also be armed with a bag of their very own handmade blend that’s sure to hit just the right flavour notes for each individual palate.

To tuck into Queensland’s Sunshine Pantry, visit www.qldsunshinepantry.com.

 

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