Local produce 'food trail' hopes to entice gourmet-loving tourists to Capricorn coast
From fresh fruit to quality beef, crocodiles, and everything in between, producers in central Queensland will be the first to tell you what great food there is on offer in the region.
But a new tourism initiative is trying to capitalise on that, hoping to draw gourmets into the area with a "food trail" made up of farm gates, restaurants, food trucks and markets.
Mary Carroll, chief executive of tourism body Capricorn Enterprise, said there was no reason the area could not become a "foodie" destination.
"The philosophy around 'Taste Capricorn Coast' is that locals and visitors want to know where their food comes from" Ms Carroll said.
The self-drive trail has been up and running since July last year, and now includes 46 operators featured on a downloadable map, website and social media pages.
Road to recovery
The trail was brought to life thanks to a bushfire recovery grant from the federal government, as some of the area was badly affected by bushfires at the end of 2019.
Brooks and Sons Pineapple farm's Barry Brooks says he is only just back to full production now, after the fire burnt much of his machinery and crops.
"We suffered massively, more than anyone else in this district" Mr Brooks said.
"We've received limited assistance ... [but] we're lucky we've had relatives and friends to help us considerably."
Mr Brooks's farm gate, which has been operating for several years, is featured on the trail.
"I think for the area it's probably a good thing, we're in a really lovely place with lots of fine weather and scenery and opportunity for tourism," he said.
From paddock to plate
For Ross O'Reilly, owner of off-grid permaculture farm High Valley Dawn, any initiative to promote reducing food miles, and becoming more self-sufficient for food supplies, is a good thing.
He grows more than 1000 different species of produce on the farm, and much of it ends up on plates at his nearby restaurant 'Beaches'.
"The more we can produce locally and [have] people eating local product, seasonally grown ... then to be able to use in our restaurant; it's always been a dream" Mr O'Reilly said.
The property is no stranger to visitors; it hosts bus tours, school and childcare groups, and works with youth justice initiatives as well.
"Agritourism is becoming a big trade ... and I think we've got a perfect region to have more of it."
Food with some bite
It's not just traditional produce and livestock involved in the trail; Koorana Crocodile Farm is also getting involved, having already served crocodile to visitors for the last 35 years.
"I have a friend in Bega, who is involved with branding the Bega name all over that area for their small goods, and it's something that we've always been interested in getting involved in" the farm's Lillian Lever said.
"I'm really excited that there's a food trail for the things that are in Capricornia at the moment, because we've got so much."
Ms Lever said the farm had produced more than six hundred meals in January, which was up on previous years.
Capricorn enterprise said though the initial grant funding had been spent, it was absorbing the ongoing marketing costs and the trail would continue to run indefinitely.
Katrina Beavan. (February 19, 2022). Local produce 'food trail' hopes to entice gourmet-loving tourists to Capricorn coast. ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-19/central-queensland-starts-food-trail/100835726