JAYNE MILLER AND SHEENA WALSHAW
Daintree Food Trail is a collection of artisan producers and food experiences that visitors can enjoy as they travel from Port Douglas to the Daintree. The Daintree Food Trail aims to help visitors find fresh and unique local foods from farm gates, stores and cafes.
Editor Jayne catches up with Sheena Walshaw, creator of the Trail. Sheena is a tourism development consultant. She was working with the Hook-a-Barra fishing experience at Daintree Saltwater Barramundi Farms, when two thoughts really struck a chord,
“There were many local restaurants, stores and cafes that were not supporting local producers. They were often buying in cheaper, and sometimes imported ingredients, to keep their costs down. Secondly, we locals didn’t always realise what amazing produce was on our doorstep. “
I thought if we could tell the story of our local producers, we could raise their profile in our own community. We could also give local stores and cafes a reason for visitors to support them, and to pay a bit more to those who were celebrating and featuring local produce.SHEENA WALSHAW
When Douglas Shire Council announced a round of community grants at the end of 2019, Sheena recognised the perfect opportunity to help fund a venture that could benefit many small businesses and families throughout the Douglas Shire.
While the launch of the Daintree Food Trail was a little delayed during the lockdown period, the timing ended up being fortuitous.
“It soon became apparent that our goal of low food miles, “buy local” and supporting local communities was very timely. More than ever, we understand the importance of regional agriculture, food safety, and of supporting local industry. It’s great to be able to shine a light on so many amazing businesses right now.”
“As we welcome back very different tourism markets, it’s great for the Douglas Shire to celebrate delicious local offerings as part of our regional brand.”SHEENA WALSHAW
I had no idea there was a goat stud in Shannonvale, selling chorizo, salami, and Kransky. That’s on my weekend bucket list for sure! Were there any local foodie discoveries that you weren’t aware of either?
“I’ve been working in tourism in the Daintree for a couple of decades, so I already knew of some of the iconic businesses – Daintree Tea, The Tea Chest, Daintree Ice Cream Company, Floravilla and Sweet Farm Tours.
Discovering new foodie delights was a wonderful surprise. I wasn’t aware of the goat stud – although that secret may be well and truly out of the bag now! Shannonvale Chevon just earned a Harvey Norman/Delicious Magazine State award last month.
I have to say I was blown away by Kefir Queen Penelope’s set-up and her incredible products. My latest obsession is the Good Shroom Co mushrooms.”
Mine too! A simple dish of sauteed lemony, peppery oyster mushrooms with home-made pasta features regularly on our menu since we discovered that little gem.
If any locals are keen to make some new discoveries, I recommend popping into Mossman Markets on a Saturday morning – it’s a great start if you want to buy direct from producers.SHEENA WALSHAW
What do you think makes the Douglas Shire especially unique as a food and produce destination?
The combination of tradition and innovation, along with our coastal lifestyle makes the Shire unique as a foodie destination. Obviously we have incredible seafood, and a specific climate that enables crops not seen elsewhere in Australia, but the fact that it is such a desirable place to live means that we attract people with different skills and cuisines and passions. This complements the wealth of knowledge from family farms going back generations. A great example of that fusion is the Daintree Ice Cream Company. This is a visionary pioneering business which new owners Dave and Jenna have taken to the next level-not only with their products, but with their sustainable farming ethos. They use fruits from their orchard grown within 100 metres of the café, but have also brought in hand-made and state-of-the-art machines from Italy to produce the finest quality gelatos, sorbets and ice creams.
How do you perceive our community consciousness of the local ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy?
The “Buy Douglas, Build Douglas” campaign shows how much our paddock to plate thinking is evolving across all industries. I believe community consciousness is on the rise. With travel ahead limited too, I see that focus continuing. I hope we can showcase to our visitors all the Shire has to offer. By telling our stories, we enrich their experience and create a point of difference from their everyday lives. When we travel to other communities or cities, it’s reciprocal – I will seek out local producers and experiences on my travels wherever possible to keep the spending in the region as much as possible.
Is there an option to take a guided tour as part of the Food Trail?
One of our members has a fantastic guided tour which I highly recommend. Port on a Plate is a chef-guided tour that takes you into Sweet Farm and Daintree Saltwater Barramundi Farm. Along the way, guests collect ingredients for a delicious lunch which chef Pete cooks up at Shannonvale Winery-after a little wine tasting, of course. Pete features an amazing selection of local produce in his menu, including Kefir Queen, Daintree Food Co and Daintree Ice Cream Company. It really is the region on a plate. You get to meet the farmers and learn heaps along the way.
How can other foodie businesses or tourism operators get on board?
Other businesses can get on board by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Sheena on 0409 804 334.
The criteria for joining as a Daintree Food Trail member is that you are based in the Douglas Shire, and your products or food experiences are accessible to visitors driving from Port Douglas to the Daintree. For example, you may have products sold at Yum Yums or Scomazzons Farm Store or you might have a café featuring local produce. The Trail is designed to enhance the visitor experience on a day or overnight trip to Cape Tribulation or the Daintree. At this stage, we haven’t included the whole of Port Douglas.