Queensland’s Sunshine Coast: the food destination that should be next on your bucket list

By Shirley Sinclair

The Imperial Hotel, Eumundi, home of Eumundi Brewery
The Imperial Hotel, Eumundi, home of Eumundi Brewery
The Sunshine Coast’s food scene begins in the rich, volcanic soil where a thriving modern agricultural industry grows. Then it finds its way to you.

The bountiful harvest — including macadamia nuts, avocados, coffee, mainstay and exotic vegetable crops, tropical fruit plantings from bananas and pineapples to strawberries — is blessed by sunshine and a mild climate.

Trawler-fresh prawns, spanner crabs and reef fish such as snapper and coral trout daily supply seafood co-ops, local fish shops and restaurants throughout the region, as Mooloolaba is home to one of the largest fishing ports on Australia’s eastern seaboard.

An enthusiastic network of producers, chefs, food artisans, coffee roasters, craft brewers and distillers — with a focus on sustainability, collaboration and innovation — uses that smorgasbord of local, seasonal goodness to its tastiest advantage.

Be impressed by their efforts on a farm-to-fork tour that goes behind the scenes and tells the story of their creative journeys. Indulge in award-winning products from household names such as Maleny Cheese with its handcrafted cheese and yoghurt.

Pop into one of the bustling farmers’ markets of the region or buy super- fresh from the farmgate at the many roadside stalls dotted throughout the hinterland to have some of the best produce in Australia at your fingertips.

A story of food

Storytelling is what turns a tour into an experience and connects people to places. Creative Tours and Events owner Josh Donohoe savours conversations with the passionate folk behind the Sunshine Coast foodie scene and hearing their success stories.

Matt Jancauskas, Brouhaha Brewery

An avid traveller, Josh created his personalised tours to introduce guests to the makers, brewers and growers at the heart of the food and hospitality industry and drive home their passion and commitment to quality and innovation. He can draw upon 30 to 40 Sunshine Coast businesses — from farms to coffee roasters, breweries to pantries — for his Hinterland Farm to Fork Experience and Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours, for example, allowing tour guests and private groups to learn and taste in one-hour stops and 90-minute lunches.

Josh considers that, per capita, the Sunshine Coast is the craft beer- brewing capital of Queensland, with 19 fully operational breweries in the region. And each has a story to tell.

One of Brouhaha Brewery’s most unusual craft beers, for example, is also one of its most popular: Strawberry and Rhubarb Sour. Matt Jancauskas and his team at the Maleny brewery on the Blackall Range created it as a quirky one-off collaboration brew in 2017 for the annual Brewsvegas craft brewing festival. Now Matt laughs at the suggestion he’s created a gold medal-winning monster. “It’s just gone from strength to strength.

“Strawberries are a no-brainer up here. They’re so prominent on the Sunshine Coast. They add that beautiful pink colour to it and they add that really sweet berry nose which draws you in.”

Creative Tours and Events’ half-day craft beer tour and full-day Hinterland Farm to Fork Tours usually call in at Brouhaha Brewery for lunch (also an option on the Hinterland Cheese and Wine tour), when some of the Sunshine Coast’s best produce comes together on a plate.

The Falls Farm at Mapleton is responsible for some of those ultra-fresh ingredients. The idyllic 16ha farm near Mapleton Falls is typical of the Coast’s farm-to-fork philosophy. The Falls Farm focuses on regenerative farming practices and permaculture philosophies.

Owner Ben Johnston says that when you take a holistic approach to farming and focus especially on soil health and quality, everything grows more quickly and profusely.

A farm tour is often included on Creative Tours and Events’ Farm to Fork Experience.

“Part of the Sunshine Coast plan is agritourism and we fit in a sweet spot,” says Ben.

Restaurants at the top of their game

These Sunshine Coast restaurants are making waves nationally.

Here’s cheers: stop by at these local craft breweries

Craft breweries — such as Maleny’s Brouhaha Brewery — and distilleries have popped up everywhere to meet the sophisticated tastes of Sunshine Coast beer and spirit drinkers. Many are in picturesque locations, becoming tourist attractions in their own right.

The Imperial Hotel, Eumundi, home of Eumundi Brewery

Eumundi Brewery

First crafted in 1988, the much-loved Eumundi Lager brand had new beers flowing again in 2017 under the watchful eyes of head brewer Chris Sheehan and his 2IC Allan Tilden, after rebuilding the brewery onsite at the Imperial Hotel’s majestic old Queenslander.

Try a Retreshing Lager, Pale Ale or Alcoholic Ginger Beer as part of its core range. Book a 15 to 20-minute Eumundi Brewery Tour and Taste for some history, a little brewing and one of the freshest beers you’ll ever drink free. eumundibrewery.com.au

Pomona Distilling Co

Native botanicals, pure local spring water and the finest juniper berries sourced from Eastern Europe give Pomona Distilling Co’s gin blends their signature flavour and smooth finish.

The small-batch production means owner and master distiller Robin Yates brings an artisan touch to every step of the triple-distilling process before hand-bottling and labelling. pomonadistilling.com.au

Moffat Beach Brewing Co

Moffat Beach Brewing Co

Moffat Beach Brewing Co is only metres from the sands of the Moffat Beach surf break. The location is a winner with locals and visitors who want to enjoy a craft beer after a day at the beach, along with live music and a menu emphasising fresh, local produce.

Last year, it was awarded Grand Champion Beer in Australia at the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show Beer Awards for its Moff’s Summer Ale draught. It also expanded, with a larger production facility equipped with a taproom. moffatbeachbrewingco.beer

Terella Brewing

Terella Brewing—the new sustainable farm-style brewery in North Arm—pays homage to traditional German methods that create a creamy, frothy head and full-flavoured but well-balanced beer. The brewery has 14 taps onsite, with a mix of seasonal and collaboration brews. It even has a petting farm with goats, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks and miniature horses. terellabrewing.com.au

Where to grab a great coffee

Spiced to perfection

Modern Asian cuisine on the Sunshine Coast is so much more than teppanyaki bars and neighbourhood Chinese restaurants.

And Spicers Tamarind Retreat’s The Tamarind restaurant at Maleny is one of those marrying delicate Asian flavours and farm-fresh produce in innovative dishes and giving new twists to traditional styles of cooking.

The Tamarind, Spicers Tamarind Retreat

The hatted restaurant considers itself Asian- influenced, born of a Thai heart.

Executive chef Dan Jarrett opened The Tamarind with the retreat launch in 2010 and stayed for five years before branching out into his own restaurants on the coastal strip. But Jarrett answered the call to return to one of the region’s foremost Asian restaurants five years ago. “Thai suits our climate and Australians in general love Asian food,” he says. “It’s healthy and you don’t feel super-full [afterwards].”

Every February, the retreat welcomes up to 500 gastronomes for the Sunshine Coast Asian Food Festival. The ‘mini-degustation’ is a chance for Jarrett to create new dishes exclusively for the festivalgoers.

“It’s a good excuse to have a good day out and get people to see our property and see this part of the world, and explore the hinterland,” he says.

“It’s just having a bit of fun with Asian food. I make up for the event something fried, something steamed and something bulky: four savoury dishes and dessert at the end. People can graze at their own leisure and pace themselves.

“Once they find their spot (in the rainforest setting), they make it their home and are set for the day,” he adds.

Spicers Tamarind Retreat

For more travel ideas, guides and information go to visitsunshinecoast.com

Photo credit: Visit Sunshine Coast


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