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On the road, you’ll pass dozens of roadside fruit vendors selling the most outrageously cheap mangos, pawpaws, avocados and bananas. Here you can taste the smorgasbord of Southeast Asian influence combined with local bush tucker-inspired delicacies. Pair that with the abundant tropical fruit, cheap seafood and native game meat, it makes for a one-of-a-kind food scene.
If you're planning a campervan trip to Tropical North Queensland there are some culinary experiences you just can't miss out on. To help, we have put together a list of the top places to visit on your upcoming road trip. Make sure your trip includes plenty of time to sink your teeth into these great options. Let’s dive in!
- Rusty’s Market
- Charley’s Chocolate Factory
- Prawn Star
- Nu Nu Restaurant
- Mungali Creek Dairy Farm
- Oaks Kitchen Garden
- Roadside vendors
Ready to explore the best places to eat in North Queensland?
Rusty’s Market is a Cairns institution that has been operating since 1975. What started as a few stalls has grown into 180 vendors selling local fruit and veg, seafood and meat plus exotic spices and anything else you might need. Whether it’s handmade jewellery, local produce, cheeses, sauces, clothing, or books, Rusty’s really has it all. Load up on everything you need for some gourmet meals on the road. Take advantage of your campervan’s kitchen and cook some delicious meals on your trip. Whether you are coming to fill up your cabinets or to sample the local goods, Rusty’s delivers a great atmosphere and live performances that you won’t want to miss.
Location: Sheridan Street, the city centre of Cairns.
Hours: Friday (5 am to 6 pm), Saturday (6 am to 3 pm) & Sunday (6 am to 2 pm)
Shaylee Strawberry Farm
If you're on the road in September, make sure you visit Shaylee Strawberry Farm. This Tablelands strawberry grower offers a selection of homemade sweets, gourmet toasties and delicious coffees. You can also pick your own strawberries at the farm. It seriously doesn't get any fresher than that. Enjoy a few hours outside picking strawberries and enjoy them for days to come, from the comfort of your campervan.
Location: 255 Marks Lane, Atherton.
Hours: The cafe is open: Monday to Sunday 9 am - 4 pm.
Pick your own open: Monday to Sunday: 10 am - 3 pm.
Hartley's Creek Crocodile Farm
Yep, you heard right. Hartleys Creek Crocodile Farm is a working crocodile farm, with unique food experiences. Here you can watch crocodiles being hand fed, then you can go to the restaurant and - if you’re feeling adventurous - try the crocodile burger or their range of focaccias, salads and more. There is also a range of other activities such as snake shows and breakfast with the koalas that should not be missed. How many people can say they have feasted on a hot breakfast surrounded by koalas? Talk about one-of-a-kind foodie experiences!
Location: Wangetti Beach, Queensland.
Hours: Coffee & snacks are available from 8.30 am to 4 pm. Hot and cold meals from the servery are available from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm.
Ochre is a distinctive lounge bar with the perfect pairing of food, drinks and unbeatable views. Here you can enjoy over 50 wines by the glass or choose from the largest selection of spirits in the region. All while soaking up the views of the inlet, mountains and reef while you feast. Be sure to treat yourself to one of their famous dishes, such as the Salt and Pepper Prawn and Crocodile, Grilled Kangaroo with Quandong Chilli Glaze, Wattleseed Pavlova or their Australian Antipasto Plate. No matter which you choose, you really can’t go wrong!
Location: Harbour Lights Boardwalk, 6/ 1 Marlin Parade, Cairns City
Hours: Monday to Saturday, lunch 11.30 am to 3 pm, tapas 3 pm to 5.30 pm, and dinner 5.30 pm to 9.30 pm.
Charley’s Chocolate Factory
Ever dreamed of winning the golden ticket to explore the fictional land of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory? Well, Charley’s Chocolate Factory is a great close second. While you may not see the dazzle of chocolate fountains and Oompa Loompas, you can soak up the true glam of chocolate by taking a tour to learn about the journey from cacao tree to chocolate bar. This is one of only a few places in the world where you can experience this all in one place! You can also get to know the well-known types of chocolate they produce (did we mention taste testing?) yum.
Location: 388 Cassowary Drive, Mission Beach Queensland
Hours: Thursday and Sunday from 10.30 pm to 1 pm.
Looking for fresh and local seafood served straight from a trawler? Head to Prawn Star and experience a menu of prawns, salmon, bugs, oysters, lobster and more! This is easily one of the best places to experience the amazing fresh seafood that Tropical North Queensland is known for. This is the perfect spot to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. Park up your camper and sample the mouthwatering local catch of the day.
Location: Pier Point Road, Marlin Marina, Cairns City
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 11 am - 9 pm
Nu Nu Restaurant
Well known for its feature in Gourmet Traveller, Nu Nu Restaurant offers an exceptional dining experience with tropical beach views. Sift through their menu of tantalizing flavours. Try the hand-stretched sourdough lemon bread or the kimchi butter-poached reef fish - all while enjoying the views of the Coral Sea under the shade of palm trees. They also host a range of events, so be sure to check the event calendar before booking this award-winning restaurant for your Queensland road trip itinerary!
Location: 1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove, Queensland
Hours: Open every day from 7 am to 11 pm.
Mungali Creek Dairy Farm
Mungali Creek Dairy Farm is more than just your typical farm. This biodynamic farm has cultivated a living, breathing organism, on which you can feast both your taste buds and your senses. In addition to the traditional cows and pastures, this farm is home to thriving wetlands and rainforests, as well as a healthy population of wallabies, birdlife and even the elusive cassowary. The best part? The Farmhouse Cafe serves food straight from the farm, including a range of organic produce and dairy products. You can also BYO alcohol and sip on your favourite beverage while taking in the views of the Johnston River Gorge, World Heritage-listed rainforest and Bartle Frere.
Locaton: 254 Brooks Rd, Ellinjaa, Queensland
Hours: 10 am to 4 pm daily
Oaks Kitchen Garden
Step into the sweet and savoury flavours of Southeast Asia with an outdoor dining experience at Oaks Kitchen Garden. Here you will journey into lush surroundings of 4 acres of working farmlands and organic native produce. You can choose to embark on a cooking experience with a private Thai cooking class or sit back and relax with a personal chef. With an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce, you can redefine Southeast Asian cuisine and experience the very best of Tropical North Queensland food in action.
Location: Lot 3, 11-13 Nancy Close, Oak Beach, Queensland
Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 1 pm to 4 pm. Open Saturday from 11 am - 4 pm.
Looking to experience the Queensland food scene from your campervan kitchen? Luckily North Queensland is dotted with roadside vendors selling awesome local produce. Keep an eye out for some bargains, and the best tropical fruit money can buy. Not only is this going to be some of the freshest food you will find, but it's also a fantastic way to support small business owners and explore the wide range of food available from vendors. These are also perfect for road trip snack stops and taking food with you on your way to your next scenic destination as you explore Australia.
Top tip: These are often found in more remote areas on the side of the road. Make sure to stay safe on remote roads and find a safe place to pull over when stopping to check out these roadside vendors!
Ready to explore the best places to eat in North Queensland?
Whether you choose to adventure Tropical North Queensland in a Britz campervan or include it as part of a larger trip such as from Darwin to Brisbane, these iconic foodie stops are a must-do for any food lover renting a van to travel through this tropical gourmet hub.
However, this tropical paradise does see some varied weather in the wet season! So just be sure to plan around the seasons for your upcoming family campervan holiday, so you get the ultimate experience. For more tips on surviving your first family camping trip, reasons to take kids on a campervan holiday, the best camping spots in Tropical North Queensland, and more, check out the Britz blog.