Updated: February 2022
The Bundaberg region is Australia’s biggest producer of macadamias, but that’s just the beginning for this food and dining destination that is gaining a reputation as one of the best, and most diverse, in the country.
Chefs and foodies alike flock to Bundaberg to experience the abundant local produce. Rich volcanic soils and plentiful water from the Burnett River mean this region is one of Australia’s most vibrant food bowls, producing a wide variety of fresh products. And while macadamias are the star attraction in the region, they are just one of the many taste experiences to tempt both visitors and locals.
A macadamia powerhouse
Despite starting out as a growing region less than 20 years ago, Bundaberg currently wears the crown of Australia’s largest producer of macadamias. The impact of the macadamia industry is clearly visible in the landscape. Visitors to Bundaberg once saw row after row of sugar cane crops on their way into town, but now experience a patchwork of small fields interspersed with cooling macadamia orchards.
Many cafes and restaurants play up this macadamia connection in their menus – and the results are truly delicious! Salted caramel macadamia nuts are often served with a morning coffee, macadamia dressing tops off nourishing salads bursting with other local produce and locally made icecreams and chocolates feature that distinctive macadamia crunch.
However Macadamias Australia (4625 Goodwood Rd, Goodwood) is truly the place to experience macadamias in all their glory. Their new Macadamias Australia Visitor Experience showcases the astounding versatility of macadamia nuts. Not only can visitors learn about the entire macadamia journey from plant to plate and dine on a number of amazing macadamia dishes in the cafe, the visitor centre itself is designed to showcase the beauty of macadamia wood. Indeed the entire facility runs on macadamia power, generated by burning the hard shells which are left over after cracking out the delicious kernel..
Bundaberg’s farms help to keep Australians fed year-round by supplying a large proportion of the nation’s fresh berries, sweet potatoes, watermelons, citrus fruits, mangoes, avocados and a myriad of other fresh fruit and vegetables, plus, of course, macadamias!
The abundant local produce and close connections between businesses and farms mean local chefs often get first dibs on the freshest produce and can create their cuisine from some of the finest ingredients in the country. So it’s no surprise that Bundaberg’s dining scene has exploded in recent years. The vibrant CBD offers an exciting array of cafes, like these local favourites.
Indulge (80 Bourbong St) are pioneers in using fresh-from-the-farm produce on a seasonally driven menu. Here you can opt for a super luxe macadamia milk coffee or find the nuts in their gorgeous selection of pastries and cakes. Macadamias feature throughout the extensive gourmet breakfast and lunch menu – including macadamia dukkah alongside pumpkin hummus and eggs, and Belgian chocolate panna cotta with macadamia granola, fried banana, blueberries and coconut yogurt.
At Nana’s Pantry (38 Electra St) self-styled gelato queen Lizzie Dern makes gelato on site. Macadamia and ginger is a favourite, and can be found alongside other tantalising combinations like blue cheese, bacon and maple or Bundaberg ginger beer. Nana’s is also a stockist of raw local macadamia products and nuts.
The Pocket Storehouse (Cnr Quay and Scotland St, East Bundaberg) is a wholesale micro-bakery specialising in sourdough and organic baked goods. Accountant-turned-baker Rick Nelson opens to the public on Saturday mornings from 7am until sold out – and he very often does sell out. The Pocket Storehouse is a must-do Saturday morning ritual for coffee and macadamia croissants.
Water St Kitchen (85 Water St, Walkervale) is a welcoming, warm and sophisticated space for coffee dates, long lunches and special occasions. Their handcrafted granola (vegan, paleo and gluten-free) features huge chunks of roasted macadamias and the coffee is delightful. Macadamias are incorporated into the lunch and dinner menus in a number of surprising and on-trend ways!
The Windmill Cafe Bargara (12 See St, Bargara). Experience the award winning coffee and friendly service at this local favourite. Owner Joey Caruana is a passionate ambassador for Bundaberg food and prides himself on his mouthwatering, locally sourced menu. This cafe, nestled in the town’s distinctive and now iconic windmill, is also a hub for many sustainability initiatives.
Grunskes By the River Seafood Market and Restaurant (11E Petersen Street, Bundaberg East) serve fresh catches straight from the kitchen to your plate. Their unique seafood dishes include Macadamia Crumbed Coral Trout and locally caught prawns and scallops garnished with a macadamia, shaved parmesan, and fresh dill crumble (YUM!).
Alowishus Delicious (Shop 4, 176 Bourbong Street) offer up tantalising caramel and banana pancakes for breakfast sprinkled with roasted macadamias. An absolute hit with the kids!
KBR’s Restaurant and Bar (located at Kelly’s Beach Resort, 6 Trevors Road, Bargara) serve crispy skin pork belly with a macadamia, cinnamon and maple glaze for dinner. Their homemade apple and fig macadamia crumble is also a favourite.
Cha Cha Chocolate (23 Targo St) is a handmade confectionery shop opened by second-generation confectioner Melanice Zielke (or ‘Mellywonker’ as she is affectionately known by locals). They stock Water St Kitchen salted caramel macadamia nuts, alongside Mel’s own moreish macadamia creations, like caramel macadamia fudge and dark chocolate covered macadamia clusters.
Kalki Moon Distilling and Brewing Company (22 Commercial St, Svensson Heights) crafts small batches of amazing liqueurs by hand. Their Cane Farmer Rum Liqueur with Chocolate and Macadamia is only available at the distillery, so don’t miss your chance to drop in for a taste and a tour!
Alloway Farm Market (1 Alloway Siding Road, Alloway) has grown from a small farm gate shop to a gourmet hotspot. You can find locally roasted coffee, tasty treats and other locally grown produce like vanilla beans and figs on offer. Mango and macadamia ice cream, macadamia brittle, macadamia and white chocolate cookies and local macadamia oil can all be found here.
Tinaberries (15 Zinks Rd, Woongarra): You’ve never tasted strawberries until you’ve tasted these farm fresh ones. This farm is open year round for delicious strawberry ice cream, but in spring (August-October) visitors are able to pick their own strawberries for the ultimate local food experience.
Feasting on the best local food
With so much local foodie love going around, Bundaberg is able to host an incredible festival each year that showcases the best food businesses and experiences. Taste Bundaberg is held each June. If you are visiting outside of festival time, try this foodie itinerary to access the most popular food experiences, or check out these guides to what seasonal fruits and vegetables and seafoods are available during the year.
What is your favourite foodie experience in Bundaberg? Head to Facebook and let us know. (Bonus points if it includes macadamias!)