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What Foods Come From The Whitsundays?

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Alison Condon
Updated Thu 23 May 2024

The warm Whitsunday region is home to some of the freshest produce thanks to its perfect farming and fishing conditions.

Surrounded by crystal clear waters, the Whitsunday region boasts a warm climate with lots of sunshine and fresh sea air, and experiences very mild winters. That makes this little corner of Queensland the perfect place for delicious produce to thrive, from fresh local seafood to sweet, tropical fruit.

Here’s just a taste of the best local produce the Whitsundays has to offer.

A woman holding a food platter on a boat in the Whitsundays


Fresh Seafood

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Whitsundays is home to some particularly exceptional seafood. It’s a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, after all! 

Fishing boats are just as popular as catamarans, sailboats, and yachts, and every day they return to Airlie Beach and its surrounding islands with delicious fresh catches

A man fishing in a creek in Airlie Beach, Queensland


Coral Trout

Coral Trout is perhaps the most common fish in the Great Barrier Reef. Good thing it’s so delicious! This local favourite is known for its delicate sweet flavour and is usually served grilled, poached, or steamed

A woman with a fish on a fishing charter in the Whitsundays


Barramundi

Barramundi, aka Asian sea bass, is a flaky, flavoursome fish that can be found in both saltwater and freshwater. The versatile fish can be barbecued, baked, pan-fried, or steamed. It’s also a favourite among locals for a classic serving of fish and chips!

Whitsunday Seafood Bar, Airlie Beach, Queensland


Prawns

Queensland is famously home to the most species of prawns in Australia. Zooming into the Whitsundays, there are plenty of prawns to be caught - most famous is the ‘Wild’ Tiger Prawn or the King Prawn. They’re perfect for a classic Aussie barbecue, a battered side order with fish and chips, or a highlight in local seafood platters.

A sign advertising fishing bait in Fraser Island (K'gari), Queensland


Mud Crab

Mud Crab is a particularly meaty, sweet, and flavourful shellfish, often served in a curry or a salad. Found in little creeks around the Whitsundays, the Mud Crab is popular paired with a thai chilli sauce or simply served steamed with a side of lemon butter. 

Shellfish being sold in a fish shop in Sydney, New South Wales


Tropical Fruits

There are more than 68 fruit and vegetable growers in the Whitsunday Region alone. There are particularly prominent in Airlie Beach’s neighbouring town Bowen, which is often referred to as the ‘salad bowl of Australia’! 

Two backpackers on a boat holding tropical fruit


Mangoes

Mangoes are arguably the most popular fruit to come from the Whitsunday region. Just take a drive out to Bowen, where you’ll find a structure especially dedicated to the sweet fruit. Bowen, which is about 45 minutes outside of Airlie Beach by car, is home to the R2E2 mango, which is famous for its long shelf life and exceptional taste. Thanks to the high quality of the fruit, R2E2 mangoes are ideal for shipping around Australia and worldwide!

Two backpackers in front of the 'Big Mango' in Bowen


Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another largely successful export from the Whitsunday region, with harvest season running from September through to December. The popular red fruit is a common crop on farms in towns like Bowen and Bundaberg.

Tomatoes on a food platter on a boat in the Whitsundays


Melons

A favourite among farmers’ markets, local grocers, and roadside stalls, the melon thrives in the sunny, tropical conditions of the Whitsundays.

Popular melons that are cultivated in the Whitsunday region include watermelons, cantaloupes, and honeydew melons.

Tropical local fruit being sold in Cairns, Queensland


Avocados

Avocados are a popular produce of the Whitsundays thanks to the area’s rich and fertile soil. Farm land in surrounding towns like Proserpine, Bowen, and Mackay are dedicated to growing the creamy, green fruit. It’s a good thing, too, because Aussie’s are particularly fond of smashed avocado toast.

Other locally grown fruits include passionfruit, oranges, lemons, limes, lychees, papayas, pineapples, and guavas - to name a few!

A fruit and vegetable market in Cairns, Queensland


Local Produce

It's not just seafood and fruit! The Whitsunday region is also home to all sorts of unique local produce.

A backpacker shopping at a market in Cairns, Queensland


Coffee

One of the largest coffee plantations in Australia can be found within the Whitsunday Region. And considering how seriously Aussies take their coffee, that’s pretty impressive! Whitsunday Gold Coffee is based just outside of Proserpine and is open to visitors 7 days per week, so you can stop in and try the award-winning blend for yourself!

A barista making coffee in Airlie Beach, Queensland


Sugarcane

Queensland is a huge producer of sugarcane. In the Whitsunday Region, the second-largest sugarcane producing region in Queensland, you can find it being grown in Proserpine and Mackay.

It’s such an important industry that sugarcane accounts for more than 30% of the Whitsunday Region’s agricultural output. Of that output, around 85% is exported to other countries like Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United States. Talk about a sweet deal!


Culinary Experiences

There are so many exceptional restaurants across the Whitsundays that are serving dreamy dishes made with locally-sourced food.

Try out the freshly caught seafood for dinner, the local coffee bean during your lunch break, or the fresh avocado during a lazy brunch.

Not only that, but local markets in Airlie Beach, Proserpine, Bowen, and Mackay are often selling those local ingredients so you can make your own delicious dishes at home. 

Heading out on a sailing trip to the Whitehaven Beach or the other Whitsunday Islands? The crew are guaranteed to get your mouth watering with a selection of fresh fruit platters.

A customer eating at a restaurant in Airlie Beach, Queensland


Want to learn more about the best places to dine in Airlie Beach? Take a look through out ultimate guide to food in the Whitsundays.

If you're planning to visit the Whitsundays and have more questions about the region, feel free to get in touch with our friendly local experts!

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