When we eat on the road, we love to graze. Picking up some fruit here, sampling some chocolate there – it’s the ideal way to have a meal in a new place while trying local bites. So when we ended up taking a day-long, leisurely road trip through the Tablelands of North Queensland, we were delighted to find all sorts of treats to try. This part of Australia has the perfect conditions for growing many types of consumables, and guests can sample them all straight from the source. There’s endless little towns and villages to explore while you take a few hours or a few days to soak up all the incredible scenery.
This is the land of milk and honey – or really, fruit wines and desserts. Several different kind of liqueurs, spirits and more are made right in this area, boasting giant tasting rooms and plenty of space for the kids to run around as well. To start, keep an eye out for Mt Uncle Distillery in Walkamin. They make premium vodkas, whiskeys and gin, to only name a few. Have a flight to savor each flavor, then head over to the onsite Bridges Cafe for some homemade pizza.
While it was tempting to just float from winery to liquor distillery back to coffee shops, we did find a wonderful haven that suited the tastes of everyone. Several hours into our Tableland road trip we stumbled into “Coffee World”. Located in Mareeba, this is an oasis of smells and strange machinery that has made all types of coffee, tea and chocolates over the centuries. This is a mega complex consisting of tasting rooms, gift shops, and an interactive museum. There are tons of buttons to push, music to dance to and oddities of the chocolate and coffee industry to take a peek at. You can even take a peek to see the huge roasting plant and grab a few burlap coffee sacks for souvenirs.
Back inside, head to the tasting room and enjoy loads of different chocolate flavors, from lime and chili to coconut and macadamia nut. Your squad can try more liqueurs and coffees here as well. A ticket includes access to the museum as well as all the samples you can eat.
A Quick Dip
Cooling off after all that hot coffee and spicy chocolate is a must. The Tablelands have some interesting bodies of water, and some are ideal for swimming and sunbathing for an alternative to the coastal beach. When we rolled up to Eacham Lake I was surprised how many people were there enjoying the shady and cool spot. It’s formed from a giant volcanic crater more than 12,000 years ago. Surrounding the swimming hole are trails and picnic areas for bird watching or having a casual, outdoor meal.
It’s well worth the journey to just explore the Tablelands, but this beautiful region is only a small part of Queensland. Only several hours east is the iconic hotspots of the Great Barrier Reef for incredible snorkeling and boating excursions. The whole area down in the valley and along the coast is also full of rainforest for hiking and wildlife sightings.
Have you been surprised by a destination? Would you travel to Australia with your friends and family? If you’re looking for a more comprehensive road trip itinerary for the east coast, check out this ultimate Australia itinerary by Claire’s Footsteps.