Posts Tagged ‘Wineries’

Who remembers Dragon?

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Well, the big new this week - from outside the Cairns Unlimited world - revolves around the horse racing industry. A potentially dangerous case of equine flu has been detected among racehorses in Sydney, and in an event surely unprecedented in Australian history, horse racing has been suspended across the country. The timing could be devastating for the Australian racing industry, right on the eve of the biggest event on the racing calendar - the Spring Racing Carnival, which culminates in the world famous Melbourne Cup.

Still on horse racing, the upcoming Cairns Amateurs Racing Carnival has been at the head of local news for all the wrong reasons. If you’re not familiar with the Cairns Amateurs, here’s a snippet of text I copied from Maria’s amazingly comprehensive TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND EVENTS CALENDAR…

The Cairns Amateurs Racing Carnival is an annual event held around the second Saturday in September. A small meeting in 1959, designed to bring city and country together, has expanded over the years to become one of Australia’s premier Spring horse racing carnivals.The Carnival, held in the tropical North Queensland city of Cairns, focuses around two days of horse racing. It is complemented by a great variety of social activities, some formal and some very informal.Cairns Amateurs has something for everyone: horse racing, fashion, socialising and celebrities. Social events include Members-only and corporate functions over the two days, as well as events and areas for the general public on both race days. The beautiful mild September climate entices large crowds to enjoy the racing and entertainment conducted at the course.

Cairns Amateurs Racing Carnival.

But the thing that has everyone hopping mad this year is the imposed ESKY ban at the event. Heavy handed State Government Liquor Licensing bureaucrats, who can’t stand to see hard working Queenslanders actually out enjoying themselves, have banned the bringing of alcoholic drinks into the event, instead forcing punters to leave their tents and queue up for drinks at the bar. regular racegoers insist that the bar facilities will not be able to cope with the increased numbers, and predict that punters will spend most of their day queued at the bar.

A number of tent bookings have already been cancelled in the wake of the threat, including one booking for 80 people from the staff social club at Irelands car dealership. Liquor Licensing are also proposing to refuse entry to under 18’s. Event organizers say that if an adults-only rule is enforced, it will be the first time in the 49-year history of the Amateurs, which were set up to bring together families from all over the region. Cairns Unlimited wants to know: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO JUST CAN’T LET US ENJOY OURSELVES? WILL THEY EVER JUST LEAVE US ALONE?

We say that even the phrase ‘ESKY BAN’ is downright un-Australian, and anyone proposing such a thing should be immediately deported. We give heavy handed, spoilsport, party-pooping, bureaucrats the Cairns Unlimited ‘Big Thumbs Down’.

On a far more pleasant note, one member of the Cairns Unlimited team took an enjoyable trip down memory lane last week, when iconic 80’s rock band Dragon came to town. I must admit, i didn’t have huge expectations. After all, these guys must be over 100 years old by now. Well, we jostled with the crowd at the Reef Casino’s Vertigo Bar waiting for the ageing rock legends to make their appearance. The first piece they played was pretty dull and uninspiring, and kind of confirmed my preconceptions that they were indeed over the hill. I looked at my watch.

Dragon, in another time and place.

But that was the last time I looked at my watch. The band immediately launched into one of their greatest hits “Get that Jive”, and after that, they never looked back. When the first few notes of “April Sun in Cuba” belted out, the crowd broke loose and, apart from the rather unusual mix of dancing styles (to say the least) I would have to say that the energy levels almost approached that of a crowd of Spaniards. Maria is free to disagree. All in all, a fantastic concert and a nostalgic reminder of a time of my life when the most important thing in the world was my HQ GST Monaro. I give Dragon the Cairns Unlimited ‘Big Thumbs Up’ and hope they made it back to the retirement village safely.

Dragon, live at Cairns Reef Casino.

Now, what else is new? Maria and I have been doing a little wine sampling over the last week or so. Our friends at DREAMTIMES WINES furnished us with a couple of bottles of their fortified tropical fruit wines; the first a very sweet Passionfruit Port, and the second a semi-sweet Mango Port. Maria has more of a sweet tooth that I do, so the Passionfruit Port was a tad rich for my taste. Having said that, I did take a small glass of it after dinner each night until the bottle was empty! The Mango Port disappeared even faster, and I’m not sure if Maria had the chance to even try it. Looking back, I’m surprised to say that I probably preferred the Passionfruit Port. Although too sweet to drink in large quantities (unless drizzled over ice… now why didn’t I think of that before?) it is the perfect after dinner drink or as an accompaniment to a strong coffee. So while I’m on a roll, I’ll give Dreamtime Wines a Cairns Unlimited ‘Big Thumbs Up’, and then sign off.

If you didn’t know that Tropical North Queensland produced wine, or you’re intrigued by the idea of wines and liqueurs made from tropical fruits such as mangos, lychees and jaboticabas… well, you won’t want to miss our WINERIES page!

Giant snakes, giant peanuts, underground museums, and more fruit wine… all in a day’s work!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

While we wait for Optus to get their collective head out of their bum and hook us up with the broadband that we applied for almost three weeks ago, we’re taking the opportunity to explore the region a little more, and of course tell the local businesspeople about Cairns Unlimited.

Yesterday’s jaunt took us to the rainforest village of KURANDA, and onwards once again to the very pleasant ATHERTON TABLELANDS. Our focus was on the region’s increasingly popular FOOD AND WINE TOURISM, but we stopped to chat to anyone and everyone who might be interested to advertise on Cairns Unlimited.

Maria made friends with a python at Australia Venom Zoo, in Kuranda, while I found a friend a little further down the road near Tolga, on the way to ATHERTON. Maria says she can notice a family resemblance, whatever that means.

If you’re not familiar with Australia’s mysterious passion for ‘Big Things’, you might want to pay a quick visit to our BIG THINGS page.

Then, in Atherton, we did a little car hunting. Maria found one she liked, but it was a bit understated for my taste. And next thing we knew, we were headed underground!

Our last stop for the day was YUNGABURRA, a lovely little historic village in the central Atherton Tablelands. By that time, it was getting quite cool (the Tablelands are considerably colder than Cairns), many of the businesses had closed for the day, and we were tired. Maria said that Yungaburra was probably the nicest town she has visited so far. Sorry we don’t have any pics, but you can be sure we’ll be back there soon. The drive back to the coast left us both feeling a bit carsick, as we twisted and turned our way down the seemingly neverending mountain range. I’m sure it’s a lovely scenic drive during the daytime, but it’s not a drive we’ll be repeating any time soon.

Back in Cairns, we had one more stop before we could call it a day. At the city’s bustling NIGHT MARKETS, we wanted to have a chat with Kirstie, from Cairns Tropical Wines. Kirstie sells wines from nine of the region’s best TROPICAL FRUIT WINERIES, all in one convenient location, right on Cairns’s busy ESPLANADE. And best of all… you can try before you buy!

So while I was drinking all of Kirstie’s delicious wines, Maria took off for a free hand treatment. i reckon I got the best end of that deal, but she was happy so that’s all that matters…

Hitting the Atherton Tablelands food and wine trail

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Today has been an extremelly interesting day for us. We decided to leave Cairns and visit all the businesses that are into the food and wine industry in the Atherton Tablelands. From coffee plantations to wineries, including a distillery. We will have to come back, too many to visit in just one day, mostly when all of them are such open and honest people that getting there, exchanging business cards, getting their details and leaving is not enough.

The morning didn’t start too good (a bit of a drama involving my hairdryer not working). But what started being a bad hair day, has concluded fantastically. We look forward to hitting the road again and visiting the rest of the companies, mostly the ones in Kuranda.

MAREEBA is only 65 kilometres away from Cairns, and it seems even closer as the scenery along the road is magnificent. We got there very early, and the first business we visited was JACQUES COFFEE PLANTATION. The Jacques family has a bit of a history behind. Coming all the way from Tanzania, they arrived in Mareeba in the 70’s, after having researched many other locations in Australia looking for a suitable land to grow coffee. The beginnings were not easy for them, and after loosing two crops due to different reasons, selling their plantation and finding another location also in Mareeba, nowadays they own 25,000 healthy producing Arabica coffee trees.

The Jacques are very proud of producing clean and green coffee, free from pesticides. They also produce coffee liqueur and offer microlight tours of their farm.

Termite Avenue, at Jacques Coffee Plantation. Maria, joining the coffee plantation tour from Jacques Capuccino Bean Machine bus.

Next stop was De Brueys, where we met Bob, a good character. Bob has recently started producing coffee liqueur as well and from experience we can tell you it tastes delicious. As we drove in he was labelling hundreds of bottles himself. His website is under construction and his winery is having some work done to it. Shortly we will have Bob and De Brueys winery accessible from anywhere in the world. Althoug only a few lucky ones, or whoever makes it to Tropical North Queensland, will have the opportunity to taste Bob’s delectable coffee liqueur.

On the road again, this time to visit Coffee Works, another coffee plantation in Mareeba. Apart from our usual coffee, most of these coffee plantations produce flavoured coffee, such as caramel or chocolate. A shame we couldn’t try all of them, but the smell was enough to awaken our tastebuds.

From Coffee works to MOUNT UNCLE DISTILLERY, the only distillery in Tropical North Queensland. Their premises are awesome, I couldn’t stop admiring the banana plantation, the little lake with its little cascades and the cafe they have built using timber logs from a bridge. It really looks very impressive. Don’t believe me? Here you have a pic.

The Cafe, still closed to the public, at Mount Uncle Distillery, in Mareeba. Steve with Sharon, Mount Uncle manager, at their beautiful shop in Mount Uncle Distillery, in Mareeba.

Mount Uncle Distillery produces liqueurs from tropical fruits, from banana to coffee liqueur or lemon, among many others.

Our trip was not finished yet, we still had a few people to visit. Who was next? Yes, Golden Drop Wines. Basically, they produce delicious mango wine. I have tried the wines made with tropical fruit, and still cannot believe anybody can make such beautiful wines with something that is not a grape. Remember that I come from Spain, where we are very proud of our wines (and our olive oil, our paella, our Antonio Banderas…) I think this is not what we are talking about today, is it? Anyway, Golden Drop Wines are a must when you decide to go on our FOOD AND WINE TRAIL TOUR. However, if you want to have a look at all the wineries in just one click, go to our WINERIES page, they are all there.

After lunch we visited TICHUM CREEK COFFEE PLANTATION, where a smiling Mario kindly served us a delicious coffee. Absolutely delicious, and that’s a lot to say from someone like me, who hardly ever drinks coffee. Tichum Creek’s Café is surrounded by flower gardens with lively bird-life, and has delightful bush views of the surrounding ATHERTON TABLELANDS. It’s an oasis just off the highway – perfect for a break in your journey!

And time to go home. But still two stops to make on our way: Blazing Saddles, a company which offers HORSE RIDING and QUAD TOURS through the lush rainforest of Tropical North Queensland, and Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve, a WILDLIFE PARK in KURANDA. If you are travelling with kids, both attractions are highly recommended. But there are tons of things to do as a family, and you can find them all in our FAMILY PAGE.

It has been a very interesting day, hope you found it as interesting as we did. Here you have a couple more photos of our day. Enjoy them and come back tomorrow.

Steve on a tank, at the War Museum, in Mareeba. Maria flying a warbird, at the Warbird Museum, in Mareeba.