Filming on the Atherton Tablelands with the Queensland Weekender
A few weeks back I had the pleasure of doing some filming with the crew from the Queensland Weekender for a segment on the Atherton Tablelands. It all came about because the lovely Amy at Tourism Tropical North Queensland just so happened to mention my name when they came calling for some information on the region (thanks Amy you’re the best!). I was contacted in the days leading up to the shoot by the producer Paul who ran a few ideas by me and asked me to provide a few places in the Tablelands that I thought would be worth them visiting. I sent through a long list of worthwhile places in an email to him including Mungalli Dairy, Rainforest Bounty, Gallo Dairyland, Coffee Works, Mt Uncle Distillery, Obi’s and the Whistlestop Cafe. Paul decided on the Whistlestop Cafe and native fruit farm Rainforest Bounty.
The day of filming arrived and early in the morning I received a phone call from Paul who told me that their flight had been delayed out of Brisbane so they were going to be a couple of hours late. I got myself camera ready and headed up the Gillies to the Whistlestop Cafe. Realising I had given myself far too much time – I arrived an hour and a half early because I didn’t want to be late. I figured I‘d have an early lunch while I waited and treated myself to some of their delicious Corn Fritters with a side of bacon.
Just as I was finishing up my lunch I received another call from Paul who said that they had been stopped at the bottom of the Gillies because a truck had rolled over and Police were stopping access for those attempting to go both up and down. He advised me that they would be taking the Kuranda Range now and would see me in a couple of hours just as torrential rain began to pour in Yungaburra. What the hell was I going to do for 2+ hours in this torrential rain with my freshly straightened, especially done for TV hair?! I did what any girl would do, I called my mum. Good old mum suggested that we move the location to Coffee Works in Mareeba that way I could meet them close to halfway. I ran the idea by Paul and he went for it. Thanks mum!
Around an hour later I met Paul and the rest of the crew including Chris the camera man and the segment presenter also named Chris. Paul and I sat down and had a chat about what he wanted me to speak about and what we were going to get up to whilst at Coffee Works for the afternoon. For those who haven’t been Coffee Works in Mareeba is a coffee museum, roaster, cafe, gift shop and chocolaterie all rolled into one. The chocolaterie is a chocolate lovers dream with over 50 flavours available including some that are unique to the Far North such as Lemon Myrtle and my all time favourite Australian Espresso Coffee. I’ve taken friends from out of town there before and they loved the gift shop so much we spent well over an hour shopping for gifts for their family back on the NSW Central Coast.
At Coffee Works you can also do a ‘Coffee World’ tour where you can enjoy as much coffee, tea, chocolate and liqueur as your little heart desires as well as gain entry into the largest and most significant collection of coffee and tea treasures in the world so that’s exactly what we did! First up Chris and I did some taste testing of the locally grown coffee which I kept to a few small sips because I’ve recently given up drinking coffee and it was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. From there we moved into the museum where we spent a bit of time because the cameraman Chris was keen to shoot a few different angles of us walking around and looking at the collection. Finally it was time for my interview, something I was admittedly nervous about but having already spent the last hour with the guys I was a little more at ease. Chris and I sat down over a cup of Coffee Works coffee and talked about how I got into blogging, what endeared me to my followers and why I thought the Atherton Tablelands was the ultimate foodie trail of the Far North. Chris made the interview go very smoothly and we got along like a house on fire so that certainly helped the process too! After that we wrapped things up because after their flight delay and the truck rolling on the range (I heard in the news that the driver was ok thankfully!) the day was almost over and we wouldn’t have time to make it to Rainforest Bounty that afternoon.
The next day I got up at 4.15am to get to Rainforest Bounty near Malanda by 7am which in hindsight was a little bit early but I didn’t want to break my track record of being ridiculously early for filming. I was asked by Paul to wear the same clothes as the day before (I wore different underwear just in case you were wondering) because they were making it all look like it was filmed on the same day. I’m slowly learning the secrets of showbiz haha. Rainforest Bounty is a native fruit farm located on the Atherton Tablelands. They produce an array of condiments from the Indigenous rainforest fruits grown on their farm that I have purchased before from markets around the region. I’ve been wanting to check out one of their cooking classes for quite some time now so I was pretty excited to be heading there for the first time. I headed up the Gillies again with no sign of the recently rolled over B-double and made my way towards Malanda.
I arrived at Rainforest Bounty at about 6.45am so not too early in the end but my early arrival gave me the opportunity to get to know the lovely people that live and work up at Rainforest Bounty. I met Eddie and his wife Georgia who have recently taken over the property after getting married there last year. I also met Head Chef Phil who was responsible for the beautiful platters of food we would later be treated to and also runs popular cooking classes onsite, Daniel their Ecologist who funnily enough I went to James Cook University with and then lastly I met Geraldine who is the founder and I guess you could say face of Rainforest Bounty.
The film crew rolled in not long after and due to some serious time restrictions we pretty much kicked off straight away. As the camera rolled Geraldine led us down to the banks of the Johnstone River which runs through their property and where Chris had only moments earlier spotted a platypus. Geraldine showed us some of the native fruit that grows along the river bank and gave us a taste of the Ooray Plum (or as it’s more commonly known the Davidson Plum) from which they make a range condiments including the unbelievably tasty Ooray Plum Vinegar. The Ooray Plum straight off the tree wasn’t quite as tasty as the vinegar and also far more sour than I was expecting. Even worse was the fruit from the Lemon Aspen tree. I tried to hide my dissatisfaction with the sour taste but it’s pretty hard with a camera right in my face.
From there we moved back to the River Pavilion where Georgia had set out a decadent spread for us to enjoy including some of the sweet, savoury and damn right spicy condiments made by Rainforest Bounty, locally grown blueberries and also some of the beautiful cheeses from Gallo Dairyland.
The filming continued as we tasted the various condiments on display with the Ooray Plum Jeowbong chilli paste being a solid favourite amongst everyone at the table. All of their incredible condiments are available to purchase on their website here. After I had almost completely stuffed myself stupid with cheese, biscuits, condiments and cured meats (breakfast of champions) it was time to film my exit from the show and the crew were off again on their adventure across the Atherton Tablelands to check out Australian Dairy Buffalo Company and I made my way back down the Gillies to settle into a food coma for the afternoon.
I had a fantastic time filming with the crew from Queensland Weekender and want to thank Producer Paul Mayze for the opportunity. I am a little nervous to see the final product when it airs on TV (6th May on Channel 7TWO) as along with you this will be the first time I am seeing it. Admittedly I was a little apprehensive to put my face on TV as many of you know I am an anonymous blogger but filming with the Queensland Weekender was a great opportunity for me to share my blog and get my name out there. In the past I have chosen to remain anonymous for the most part because I think it adds to the appeal of Foodvixen (makes me more elusive) and also Cairns is such a small place – I like being able to go to Coles looking like something the cat dragged in. I hope you guys enjoy my little segment. Let me know what you think xo
Wharf One, Cairns
One place that I have been frequenting of late is the little café located at the Cairns Wharf so aptly named Wharf One. Opening in June this year with stunning uninterrupted views of Trinity Inlet, Wharf One has a position that most cafes could only dream of. What’s more is it’s a great spot for parents to grab a coffee as it’s right next to the fig tree playground that reminds me dearly of my favourite Enid Blyton book – The Magic Faraway Tree. For the non-parents it’s just enough out of ear shot for you to enjoy your morning or afternoon in peace.
I discovered Wharf One how I discover most new restaurants and cafe’s – through Facebook when I saw the Taste Paradise page’s picture of the Salmon Poke (one of the menu items on offer at Wharf One). I was there the very next day. With nothing on the breakfast or lunch menu over AU$14 Wharf One is a breath of fresh air in the current Cairns café climate. I don’t know about you but frankly I am getting a little over the over-priced breakfasts around Cairns. This is a rant I have been on before but some Cairns cafes are charging over $20 a dish, something I think is absolutely absurd. This is Cairns not bloody Surry Hills FFS!
Back to Wharf One – With an emphasis on local produce such as Mungalli Creek Yogurt, Madella Coffee from Mourilyan and local cane cured salmon the menu quickly caught my attention. Breakfast includes items such as Pomodoro Sardines on Toast (apparently sardines are making a comeback) for only $8, Quinoa and Brown Rice Chai Porridge with Mixed Berries ($8) and Smashed Local Avocado, Ricotta, Lime Oil on Ciabatta, also for $8. Lunch is even tastier with items such as the Wharf One Local Prawn Burger for $13 and Shredded Chicken, Avocado and Mango Baguette for $10 and my personal favourite Local Salmon Poke with Avocado and Woodfired Ciabatta – a Hawaiian Sashimi (not Sushimi) style salad for a mere $9.
Unfortunately the atmosphere and the tasty sounding menu are really the only positive things I could find about Wharf One. My fellow blogger friend Baking Myself Happy is one person’s opinion that I rely heavily upon, usually because she takes the words right out of my mouth. Her recent text regarding Wharf One reads as so… “I’ve been to Wharf One four times now and am so disappointed with their food and their presentation. The food had been average at best. Such a shame as it’s the prettiest spot.”
Sadly I tend to agree with everything she wrote. I, myself have been to Wharf One no less than five times prior to writing this post hoping that things would improve despite really enjoying my initial visit – the Salmon Poke was innovative, fresh and flavoursome. Alas since that first visit Wharf One seems to be on a steady decline. The service which was dubious on my initial visit has only gotten worse with meals arriving up to 15 minutes apart and although the owner seems lovely and always keen for a chat, the young staff (in between texting on their phones) appear to have absolutely no idea what’s going on nor do they care about providing even remotely reasonable service.
The coffee has often been terrible but considering they use what I assume are world-class beans from Madella Coffee in Mourilyan I can only assume that it’s the barista that provides the burnt and bitter aftertaste. The Kale and Quinoa salad I had as a side serve to my Salmon Poke was so bland and tasteless that even one mouthful was all I could stomach (a little seasoning wouldn’t go astray) and I just can’t omit the hair that my friend found in her baguette that was removed at the table by the waitress who expected her to continue eating said baguette.
Despite what some may think I am always loathe to write non-positive things about restaurants and cafe’s but as I said above, I went back five times in hopes of improvement because I want to like Wharf One so much. Most recently my sister went to Wharf One last Saturday morning. She ordered poached eggs with salmon which arrived on a broken plate with eggs that were almost raw and the salmon was forgotten completely. How many chances do you give a place? I started this blog because I tell it how it is and I think my readers deserve that. At Wharf One the menu is great (in theory), the location is second to none and the prices are probably some of the best I have seen in Cairns but the very thing they are setting out to do – provide good service and serve good food – is being overlooked. Like the old Queenslander on Martyn Street that MS and I looked at buying recently, Wharf One has plenty of potential but in the end there are tonnes other places that require far less work.
The Wharf, Wharf St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4031 2840