Locally farmed, home-grown and organic - the warm climate, rich soil and plentiful rainfall create a gourmet's paradise in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
From fine-dining at award-winning restaurants to sampling locally-brewed craft beer - the Sunshine Coast Hinterland has a feast of flavours that will satisfy every foodie's palate. Put these 10 experiences on your foodie bucket list and pack your appetites.
1. Spirit House
Enjoy delectable Thai and Asian meals in this Balinese-style haven that has critics raving. When you enter the Spirit House, in Yandina, you arrive in a world that could easily be Thailand, perhaps Ubud – but it is, in fact, still very much in Australia, less than 15 minutes from Coolum Beach. Developed out of an almost denuded cattle farm, Peter and Helen Brierty first began their project in the early 1990s, developing large hydroponic ponds, planting exotic trees and plants and then two years later, in 1995, opening a restaurant and following that with a cooking school that is recognised as one of the best in Australia. TIP: Make sure you book well in advance.
2. Flame Hill Vineyard
A visit to Flame Hill Vineyard would have to be one of Australia’s ultimate paddock to plate experiences. The 300 acre estate houses a vineyard, market garden orchard and a herd of beef cattle. Renowned for its commitment to sustainable food production, gastronomes are definitely spoilt for choice. Book in for a Sunday brunch on the terrace or dine in the award winning restaurant and enjoy the best of fresh, seasonal and local produce matched with award winning wines. You can also take a picnic of farm cured meats, marinated vegetables and artisan breads to one of the property’s many scenic nooks and enjoy the views of the Obi Obi Valley and Mount Coolum. Sit back, soak up the rural ambiance and be entertained by the Guinea Fowls as they wander among the trellises.
Flame Hill Vineyard, Montville.
3. The Long Apron
The Long Apron restaurant has made Spicers Clovelly Estate a destination for foodies from around Australia. From a croissant on the sun drenched terrace, to a seven course degustation in the dining room, The Long Apron offers a unique taste of modern Europe in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The restaurant serves contemporary and classic European cuisine in an understated and elegant dining room or garden terrace area. The food is meticulously prepared and only the freshest seasonal produce is used, sourced from on the property and the surrounding local area. The Long Apron offers five and seven course degustation menu as well as 'Table d'hote'. TIP: if you have a sweet tooth, keep an eye out for the dessert degustation experience that pairs delectable treats with French champagne.
4. The Tamarind
If you're looking for a premium dining experience in Maleny then look no further than The Tamarind - the fully licensed, in-house restaurant at Spicers Tamarind Retreat specialising in modern Asian cuisine. The Tamarind’s menu effortlessly combines sweet, sour and spicy flavours with fresh local produce to create original and innovative dishes that almost look too good to eat. From the whole cooked barramundi to the signature crispy duck - every meal is a masterpiece. If you'd like to replicate these Thai creations in your own kitchen, then book yourself in at the cooking school. Rory Thorpe hosts intimate classes of up to 12 people with five hours of cooking, lunch, wine, signature apron and full recipes included.
5. Craft Beer
The Sunshine Coast has a thriving craft beer scene and Brouhaha Brewery is your go-to if you're holidaying in Maleny. It's a cracker of a micro-brewery featuring 12 kinds of amber goodness for your beer-drinking pleasure. There's everything from stout (try the coffee milk stout) to pale ale. Food is fresh and locally sourced and the service is super friendly. TIP: graze on a ploughman's platter - made up of delectable local cheeses, smoked meats and pickles.
If you're in Montville, drop into Wild Rocket @ Misty's Micro Brewery and wet your whistle with a Black Jack Stout or a Montville Smooth Ale. The restaurant and micro brewery is housed in one of Montville's most historic buildings and oozes old-world, quirky charm. The menu boasts house made local and seasonal fare including beef sausages, breads, and even the jams and chutneys.
If you're in town for the Big Pineapple Music Festival or just checking out Nambour's vintage and retro trail, make sure you head to the ultra-hip dive bar, The Basement. There are eight taps rotating a range of the best boutique beers you'll find just about anywhere. Order a $15 jug of beer or cider and sink back in a leather chesterfield for a lazy Sunday session.
TIP: If you'd like to sample more than a few beers and you need a designated driver, jump aboard a tour with Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours.
6. The Cheese Circuit
With rich pastures, a warm climate, a perfect balance between sun and rainfall, the Sunshine Coast has been one of the country’s most renowned dairy producers since cattle were first introduced to the region. Proof of the pudding, or perhaps the yoghurt, is Maleny Dairies which has kept the flag flying with its high quality output, and this year won an award for producing Australia's best full cream milk. A visit to Maleny Dairies will not only prove that milk comes from cows (not cartons) but that it tastes so good! The milk, yoghurt and ice cream can be tasted and bought at the farm shop. You can also join a farm tour, ride a tractor and see the cows milked at 3 pm. Once you’ve tasted the raw goods, head to Maleny Cheese, where you'll see the cheesemakers in action and enjoy tastings in the café and shop. You can also purchase outstanding hard and soft cheeses, along with products from the award-winning yoghurt range. Make time to pop into Maleny Food Co and indulge yourself in the fromagerie, featuring more than 200 cheeses from Australia and around the world.
Montville's Main Street confectioner will hit your sweet spot. Fudgbyboombahs’ sweet treats are handmade and gorgeously packaged. You'll find an ultra-delicious range of flavours instore including: butter candy macadamias; butterscotch vanilla fudge; and rocky road fudge. Try stopping at just one when there are over 70 delectable flavours to choose from.
8. Café culture
You don't have to be a coffee connoisseur to know that Montville is a coffee destination in its own right. Award winning, local roaster, Montville Coffee, sets a high standard being Queensland's first certified fairtrade and organic coffee roaster. Coffee enthusiasts can visit the factory with Mystic Mountain Tours or take a class in milk texturing or latte-art on site. Local cafés and restaurants don't disappoint, serving a range of blends made from local and imported fair trade beans. Have your coffee with a side of spectacular hinterland vistas at The Edge Café on Main Street; or a cup at The Poet's Café where the coffee's water is sourced from the property's natural bubbling spring. If you're after a traditional pub food, head to Montville Café Bar and Grill for a hearty meal and a cuppa in the beautifully landscaped garden.
9. Pick your own strawberries
Smell, taste, touch and experience an authentic food spectacle with pick-your-own strawberries from June to the end of October on the Sunshine Coast. Berries taste so much sweeter when they're straight from the patch and it's a wonderful activity the whole family will enjoy. Forage for strawberries by the punnet-load at Strawberry Fields in Palmview and McMartins Farm in Bli Bli.