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Lifestyle : Discover North Queensland 2011
1HERSA1 U002 AG4137294AA-310711 FREE NIGHTS in The Whitsundays *Conditions apply. Strictly subject to availability. Sunsail reserves the right to withdraw these offers at any time. Must be booked by 15 Aug 11, minimum 5 night charter. New bookings only. Offers cannot be used retrospectively. Quote SHS. 1800 803 988 firstname.lastname@example.org www.sunsail.com.au 70% Water 100% Fun! 1 Oct to 31 Dec 2011* Sail for 7 nights - pay for 6 Sail for 10 nights - pay for 8 12 Jan to 31 Mar 2012* Sail for 5 nights - pay for 4 Sail for 7 nights - pay for 6 Sail for 10 nights - pay for 7 Need a break! in the Fabulous Whitsundays D NG NG ND D N Freecall www.airliebeach.com info airliebeach.com hute arbour d irlie Beach Qld To end of main street ne t to ogs Breath Cafe for unique Getaway Packages visit www.airliebeach.com Whitsundays Central eservations Centre AirlieBeach.com The north queensland special report 2 SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011 THE SUN-HERALD Tea on the tablelands Winsor Dobbin takes a tropical gourmet tour of unexpected delights. Tastes at the top . . . from left, Nu Nu restaurant in Palm Cove; Mount Uncle is North Queensland's only distillery. Flame-lit alfresco dining beneath the rainforest canopy. FROM chef Nick Holloway's award- winning cuisine at Nu Nu in Palm Cove to fresh prawns bought from fishing boats at Port Douglas to coffee plantations on the Atherton Tablelands, north Queensland is a surprising gourmet destination. Exotic fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and nuts? Check. Cheeses, yoghurts and soft, white quark? Yep. A boutique distillery producing fine spirits? Wineries using local tropical fruit? Present. Top-notch restaurants? Right here. While the far north of Queensland may be better known for palm- fringed sandy beaches, the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, it is also a food bowl that welcomes visitors hungry for a taste of the tropics. The local food producers' group even calls itself Taste Paradise. Let's start our journey in Port Douglas, once a somnambulant village until the renegade multimillionaire Christopher Skase poured truckloads of money into building a Mirage resort there and the town became a home away from home for the beautiful people. Skase is long gone but there is still a Skase's Bar on the waterfront named in his honour, the perfect place in which to raise a glass of champagne to rogues. Along Macrossan, Wharf and Grant streets, the main Port Douglas shopping precinct, you'll find a surprising selection of eateries offering a range of cuisines and price points. Among them is the modest Jade Inn, which boasts it once fed and watered Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the US. Star restaurants including Harrison's, where chef Spencer Patrick, one-time holder of a Michelin star, is cooking up innovative European-influenced cuisine in a smart but relaxed atmosphere. Think dishes such as twice-cooked pork belly with pineapple and white-bean puree, quail egg, black pudding and honey mustard seed glaze accompanied by a glass of wine from O'Leary Walker or Stefano Lubiana. Bistro 3 and 2 Fish in Port Douglas also pull in the punters, with gems such as all-day diner Zinc and the venerable Nautilus, which was the first restaurant in town when it opened in 1955. Holloway's Nu Nu at Palm Cove, down the coast towards Cairns, is known for its great dishes featuring local ingredients. ''If you dig below the surface there is an incredible community of artisan producers in this part of the country,'' Holloway says. ''There is some terrific food that the locals tend to take for granted.'' The chef is committed to using local and, where possible, organic produce -- including whatever is caught in local waters. Back in Port Douglas, check out some of the best local produce at Blood Orange, which sells a range of fresh fruit and local vegetables, exotic and tropical fruits, herbs and spices, home-made dips, sauces and condiments. Next door is Seafood House, where you can buy fresh barramundi, coral trout, saddletail snapper, a range of prawns and Moreton Bay bugs. Nearby again, Whileaway is a delightful boutique bookshop cum cafe. With other top local eateries including Bel Cibo, Port Sushi and the locals' hangout, Salsa Bar and Grill, Port Douglas is an ideal base from which to explore the Atherton Tablelands, the Daintree and beyond. Join the locals for a cooling ale at the Central or Court House hotels (both of which always seem to be busy) but remember that the service is of a ''You right, mate?'' style, which is either endearing or infuriating, depending on your mood. Just out of town, in a secluded location, is Flames of the Forest, which offers a flame-lit alfresco dining experience beneath the rainforest canopy. Each year, Port Douglas hosts Carnivale, a festival that highlights the region's top chefs and best produce. And while it's winter to Queensland's south right now, in Port they're still strolling around in shorts and T-shirts, with day-time temperatures sometimes in the mid- to high 20s. First stop on any gourmet voyage of exploration should be the tiny Saturday morning market in Mossman to pick up locally grown pineapples and papayas. On Sundays, try the limes at the Port Douglas Market. Then onwards to the Atherton Tablelands. Here you can choose between two coffee plantation tours; one at the Australian Coffee Centre/Skybury Coffee Plantation, the other at Jaques Coffee Plantation. Both offer the chance to learn how coffee is produced, with Skybury tours including a walk through a coffee plantation, demonstration of the process, movie viewing and coffee tasting in the laboratory -- and a cup of coffee. This plantation is the oldest in Australia and the country's largest coffee exporter. It is also home to a restaurant and gift shop with a range of main meals and snacks -- best enjoyed on the terrace. At rival Jaques, there's the
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