Food and Wine Tour

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We took a day tour to the Atherton Tablelands in the Wet Tropics Heritage area to visit local food and wine producers.

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The road had some special signs, like this one that really does mean “watch out for kangaroos sitting on branches”.

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The first stop was for scones and cream at Lake Barrine.

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Our guide Warrick showed us many things about the tropical forest, such
as the thorny stingers on many climbing plants that you easily get caught on.

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These two trees are Bull Kauris, Agathis microstachya, and can become
45 m tall and 6 m around. They are the largest of Australia’s 38 conifers.

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We made a brief stop at the curtain fig, a member of the strangler fig species. The boardwalk made it easy to walk around the tree.

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The fig had climbed up another tree, that eventually fell and rested on another tree. That tree then rotted away, leaving the fig tree roots as a curtain.

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Our next stop was for cheese and chocolate tasting. Our guide Warrick prepared the samples and gave a good presentation.

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Display of house made chocolates.

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We stopped at Wondaree Macadamias where the owner Greg O’Neill guided us around the plantation.

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Macadamias are native to Australia, but commercial production did not start until late, after Hawaii entered the market.

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The nuts grow in clusters. A tree has around 17,000 flowers, but can develop no more than 2 – 3,000 nuts. Even though insects
destroy some flowers and nuts, there is no need for pesticides because of the limited number of nuts the tree can support.

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Picking of the nuts can be hard work, but made easier by this machine. It is based on the system of picking up golf balls.

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The nuts are sorted on this conveyor belt.

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A wide variety of macadamia nut products are made at Wondaree, and the prices here are unbeatable.

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Warrick did an excellent job setting up the tasting and presenting the wines at de Brueys winery.
The fruit based wines are very different from the wines one normally associates with Australia.
It is an admirable attempt to use local resources, but none of the wines appealed to our palates.

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Our final stop for the day was at a coffee plantation where we met this guide.

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The coffe beans were starting to get red and mature. A major problem with having a coffee plantation in Australia is the
cost of picking the beans. This is done by hand in many developing countries, but that would be too costly in Australia.

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The plantation owner developed this picking machine 30 years ago. It takes only a few seconds per coffee bush to pick the beans.

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A line of termite mounds near the plantation that we passed on our way back home to Trinity Beach.

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