Connect with nature in a place unlike anywhere else in Australia with a visit to Tropical North Queensland. Up here, you’ll experience astounding diversity – it’s not just about relaxing on the beach, think wandering to waterfalls and taking the plunge on the Great Barrier Reef.
Enveloped by rainforest, fringed by reef and ringed by the red dirt of the outback, a warm welcome awaits visitors along with award-winning restaurants that demand to be visited. Here are four Chef-hatted destinations to put on your Tropical NQ radar:
An exotic sensory feast awaits diners at multi-award-winning Tamarind
(13), signature restaurant of Cairns’ Reef Hotel Casino. The journey begins with an ambient, low-lit dining room set with crisp white linen among warm timber walls and leads to a contemporary fusion of Eastern flavours and the finest regional produce.
Changing regularly with the seasons, Tamarind’s menu is complemented by an impressive Australian wine list, local and imported beers and spirits and innovative cocktails. Order à la carte with choices like seared scallops, tomato miso ketchup, prosciutto and preserved lime pangrattato and Daintree whole baby barramundi, tamarind chilli sauce, coriander and aromatic rice.
For award-winning dining in paradise, head to Harrisons Restaurant
(12) on Port Douglas Road. The signature restaurant at Port Douglas’ Sheraton Grand Mirage, chill out in opulent surrounds of chandeliers, ornate mirrors and furniture, alongside monochromatic geometric carpet and potted palms, to survey a menu, bearing the flavour of the Tropics.
While taking in the azure blue of the pool, graze on snacks like kangaroo on toast, with raw cucumber and native herbs; before memorable mains such as honey and coriander glazed duck breast, burnt peach, turnip, cloves and watercress, or slow-cooked lamb shoulder with Madras spices, cucumber, mint and Bomby kipflers.
Modern farm-to-table Thai cuisine is what you’ll find on the plate at Jungle Fowl
(12) on Wharf Street in Port Douglas. This locally loved dining destination exudes a fun and funky vibe with stylised wall art of a tiger, birds and palm trees, while intimate table settings beckon for romantic rendezvous or catchups with family and friends.
Named after the tropical bird found across much of Southeast Asia and the ancestor of the domestic chicken, expect a menu based around produce sourced from the Oaks Kitchen & Garden; perhaps starting your culinary adventure with prawn, betel leaf, coconut, peanuts and pomelo, followed by Davison plum duck, with star anise, coriander and a side of rice.
Take in ocean views as balmy breezes rustle overhead leaves at Melaleuca Port Douglas
(12) on Wharf Street. Boasting a fabulous alfresco courtyard with three giant mango trees forming a canopy above diners, as well as a chic indoor restaurant space, this fine diner combines relaxed and casual service with a Modern Australian menu to set the mood for a memorable meal.
Visit for lunch and delve into choices like oven-roasted Moreton Bay bugs in red Thai curry sauce, chilli, lime, Vietnamese mint, lychees, sautéed green beans and steamed jasmine rice; while evening diners start with pig ears and apple purée, moving onto flame-grilled beef tataki, nam jim dressing, snow pea and bean shoot salad, green onion and citrus ponzu glaze.