Gourmet Travel around the Atherton Tablelands

Published 30 March 2016

Alexandra Gregg

My face began to scrunch up, the taste buds on my tongue fired messages at breakneck speed to my brain and my right eye gave an unsettled twitch. “I’m not sure about this one,” I coughed, depositing the rest of my half-full glass of jaboticaba (a Brazilian tree grape) wine into the bucket. We were on round four (or was it five?) of a tasting session at Kuranda’s De Bruey's Boutique Wines and, while I’d found a few flavours I liked – particularly the bush cherry vinos – this wasn’t one of them. But that’s all part of the fun when it comes to wine tasting. Well, that and the fact you get to try fresh tipples at their very source.

The drink selection at De Bruey's

The drink selection at De Bruey's (Image: Alexandra Gregg)

Stretch your stomach and spot birdlife at Jabiru Safari Lodge

This was just the beginning of course. We’d already had a delicious breakfast banquet and morning cruise at the Jabiru Safari Lodge, the gateway to the Mareeba Wetlands Nature Reserve, and were spotting birds (notably a lone emu) and other wildlife, all before 10am. I’d seen more of Tropical North Queensland in a few hours than I thought we could experience in a few days – and none of it included the region’s two big hitters: Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

Emu at Jabiru Safari Lodge

Emu at Jabiru Safari Lodge (Image: Alexandra Gregg)

No, this was something really unique, and I was already loving feeling like, and eating like, a Tablelands local.

De Bruey’s was actually the second stop on our Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventures tour and, after sampling over a dozen different drinks – of which the Nesquik-tasting liquer, ‘Strawberry Temptation’ was my favourite – we braced our stomachs. After all, we still had a heavy day of eating and drinking ahead.

Jabiru Safari Lodge

 Jabiru Safari Lodge (Image: Alexandra Gregg)

Have lunch… and more liquor at Mount Uncle

Speaking of food: once we’d had our fill of wines, ports and creamy liqueurs, our guide Brett told us a bit about our lunch stop: the Mount Uncle Distillery – the first and only distillery in Tropical North Queensland. Set amid beautiful, wildlife-filled gardens, the emphasis here is on locally-sourced ingredients and quirky flavours, like the SexyCat marshmallow-flavoured liqueur. Yup, you read that right.

Drink tasting at Mount Uncle

Drink sampling at Mount Uncle (Image: Alexandra Gregg)

After enjoying the scrummiest pizza I’d had in a long time at the on-site Bridges Café (renowned for its wood-fired cooking), we were treated to even more tasting – a concoction of rums, vodkas and gins. Suffice it to say I was beginning to feel like I might need a little mid-afternoon siesta…

Get a caffeine kick at Coffee World

...enter: coffee. Our next visit was to Mareeba’s Coffee World, serving a confection of flavoured coffees, chocolates, teas and liqueurs. And the best bit? You can enjoy all of it in unlimited quantities. Caffeine connoisseurs will be in a wide-awake heaven before long (I was!), alert for a walk around the on-site museum (boasting tea and coffee paraphernalia dating back to the 1700s) and our next stop.

Chocolate samples at Coffee World

 Chocolate tasting at Coffee World (Image: Alexandra Gregg)

Refresh your palate with ice-cream, sorbet and… biltong??

The Emerald Creek Ice Creamery is all about world-class dairy and, while we all thought that we were too full to fit any more food in our bulging bellies, we each managed to find some extra space (or a second stomach?) to sample a bevy of frozen delights. There was ice-cream. There was sorbet. And there was fudge. Oh, and then there was biltong. Most would argue that dried, cured South African meat is a weird final course in this otherwise sugary tasting bonanza, but the saltiness of it complemented the sugar perfectly. Plus it was deliciously fresh and bursting with tangy, pack-a-punch flavour – this is coming from someone who usually hates jerky and biltong in all its guises.

Sampling ice cream Emerald Creek Ice Creamery

 Watching ice cream being made at The Emerald Creek Ice Creamery (Image: Alexandra Gregg)

Find a secret spot, perfect for platypus spotting

If I wasn’t full before, I was now. Luckily it was a good 45-minute drive to the final stop on our itinerary. We went off-road and past towering crimson termite mounds to reach ‘The Platypus Hut’, a secluded 160-acre property that no-one has access to apart from the estate owners and Brett. It was peaceful, nature-filled and my favourite spot of the day. We sat in the sun, dipped our toes in the creek, and hoped to spot an elusive platypus that frolics here.

View from the Platypus Hut

 The view from The Platypus Hut (Image: Alexandra Gregg)

After a bit of relaxation (and realisation that today the platypus was a no-show), we felt ready to gorge ourselves some more. As if by magic, Brett pulled out a platter and we all munched on mango-infused and black pepper cheeses atop crackers, washing it all down with Queensland-brewed beers and local wines. It was the perfect end to a perfect, gourmet grub-filled day.

Alexandra visited Australia on our Tropical North Queensland Journey. Speak to one of our Travel Experts about booking your tailor-made holiday today.

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