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Foodie bucket list: 9 ways to experience Queensland’s food culture

Pack your taste buds, Queensland is calling. We’re a state with a five-star dining scene in the city, and an even better one in the country. But if you’re looking for a food experience that goes beyond a sit-down meal, why not hunt, gather or prepare your own with this guide to some of the essential ingredients in Queensland food culture.

Hunt mode: Queensland’s must-try protein produce

1. Coral Trout

Line caught and damn difficult to catch, there’s more to know about coral trout than its speckled orange exterior.

This fish, while not endemic to Queensland might as well be, inhabiting most parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral trout hunt the World Heritage-listed icon with a piscivorous diet of prawns and other reef fish, which explains their sweet flavour profile when the hunter finally becomes the hunted.

Catching this fighting fish is quite a task and entirely weather dependent, which is why you’ll mostly find coral trout as ‘fish of the day’ rather than a menu staple across the state.

If you’re not planning on visiting the outer reef to line catch it, try it for yourself at these seafood restaurants:

2. Spanner crab

Spanner crab | Queensland food culture

Riddle us this: what crab is an apex predator that only swims in the crystal-clear waters of Fraser Island and Mooloolaba?

Spanner crabs – the crustacean cousin of the mud crab and sand crab, which proudly sports even sweeter flesh thanks to its diet of scallops and prawns.

This red crustacean is the definition of evolution, built with thin nippers for slicing open scallop shells.

Unlike other crabs in the family, this one is endemic to Queensland – available cooked and raw from the trawlers in Mooloolaba and served at fine dining restaurants across the state, such as Sum Yung Guys.

3. Organic beef

OBE beef | How to experience Queensland food culture

Photo by OBE Organic via FB

The thing about Outback Queensland is that it’s big. So big in fact you don’t even need fences to keep your cattle in or use chemicals to keep the weeds at bay.

Head to Channel Country to see what 25 years of organic farming looks like and the three-million hectares of grazing land owned by the Brook family (who incidentally run the Birdsville Races), who pioneered OBE Beef.

OBE Beef turns its Channel Country challenges into an advantage, with some 40,000+ head of cattle basking in its remote conditions on any given day – seasoned only by nature, rather than pesticides and tick treatments.

For city slickers, hunting OBE Beef is easy. Just visit your local organic butcher and ask if their stock is OBE, or pay a visit to Three Blue Ducks inside the W Brisbane to try it in brisket form.

Gather mode: Queensland’s best fruit and vegetable produce

4. Mango

You’d be wrong to think the Great Barrier Reef is the Whitsundays’ most famous face.

Bowen mangoes even pip Whitehaven Beach to the post, with the wider-region responsible for producing some 3,812,102 trays of mangoes each year.

Eat the juicy fruit across the region available by the caseload from stalls, frozen at Bowen’s own frosty mango or on dessert menus across the state.

Pssst – if you’re mad for mangoes, don’t forget to take a photo at the Big Mango in Bowen too.

5. Davidson Plum

Davidson Plum at Daintree Ice Cream | Queensland food culture

If you prefer your fruit on the sour-side and definitely not found in supermarkets, a trip to the Daintree Rainforest will reveal a whole new world of fructose.

Wrap your laughing gear around a Davidson Plum, a favourite fruit of the southern cassowary who makes short work of this purple skinned fruit.

Move over acai berries, the Davidson Plum could soon become the next superfood, rich in potassium, Vitamin E and zinc; otherwise known as the nutrients required for glowing skin.

Sure, eating it au naturel is more like devouring a lemon, but mix it through ice cream like they do at the Daintree Ice Cream Company and you’ll have yourself some of the best sorbet this side of Italy and none of the acidic taste.

6. Macadamia nuts

Name a more iconic duo than Queensland and macadamias? We’ll wait.

Queensland’s southern parts are prime growing conditions for the national nut with hot, humid conditions and rainfall to keep this fickle nut perfectly hydrated in its green outer shell.

For a holiday to go nuts about, why not stay on a working macadamia farm? Check into Greenlee Cottages and make a weekend out of fossicking for a salt-roasted snack, following this itinerary.

Prepare mode: Queensland’s best food experiences

7. Spirit House

Prepare to be instantly transported to Thailand the minute you cross the threshold of Spirit House, whose landscaped gardens are about as famous as the food of this award-winning regional restaurant.

What’s better than a degustation? Learning how to make one for yourself at their onsite cooking school.

Across four hours, you’ll learn the basics of south-east Asian cooking and leave with an instant dinner party under your belt.

Themed lessons cater to every level of chef, with the likes of entry-level Vietnamese and Fab-Fast Thai meals to Seafood Banquets and Asian Entertaining on their weekly cooking school roster.

8. Cultural Habitat Tour

Cultural Habitat Tour | How to experience Queensland's food culture

You won’t find the equipment you need for this fishing expedition at your local BCF store. Join Brandon and Lync Walker for a Cultural Habitat Tour through the mangroves and mudflats of Port Douglas.

Armed with a spear, you’ll go hunting for mud crabs just as the Kuku Yalanji people have done for thousands of years before hand.

This experience is so good, it ranks in our list of best Indigenous tours in Tropical North Queensland.

9. Bundaberg Rum blend-your-own rum experience

Bundaberg Rum Distillery | How to experience Queensland food culture

Photo by @bundabergrum

Take your mixology to the next level with a visit to the Bundaberg Distillery and learn to mix your own rum.

In just over 60 minutes, you’ll learn the art of tasting rum from the barrel before blending your own personal drop.

This guided tour finishes with take home treats too – two of your very own personalised 700mL bottles.

For more top drops, check out Queensland’s best micro-distilleries over here.