Experience the best food & drink from Brisbane to Byron Bay
Crystalbrook Hotels has teamed up with Kiff & Culture bus tours to organise a foodies tour that goes from Brisbane or the Gold Coast to explore a lot of the most popular and well-known food, wine and drink venues on the way to and around Byron Bay. The tour also includes 2 nights in the Crystalbrook Byron Bay rainforest resort.
The lads of Kiff & Culture tours have joined forces with Crystalbrook to present the Brisbane to Byron tour
With a focus on stylish luxury hotels and resorts, Crystalbook offers luxury plus across its network. In Byron Bay, their hotel is located in the rainforest near the beach. This is the ultimate relaxing getaway but still close to the action in town. In Brisbane, their hotel is The Vincent right next to the trendiest dining scene at the Howard Smith Wharves. While not the same level of luxury as their hotel in Byron Bay, it falls instead into the boutique luxury hotel category.
Two local lads, Alex and Drew, built on their previous tour and marketing experience to start offering tours in the region called Kiff & Culture. They know what is popular and trendy. in the area and are offering to get you there. This tour and their other tours join the dots between a lot of the regional dining experiences across the area. If you were to seek out many of the hottest places yourself, these same destinations will be on your list. So their tours are great for people visiting the region or who live here but haven't had much opportunity to explore.
Day 1: Heading to Byron Bay
The tour picks up in Brisbane or the Gold Coast heading to Byron Bay. Accommodation in Byron Bay is at the Crystalbrook resort, so if you are starting the tour in Brisbane you might choose to stay at the Crystalbrook Vincent in Brisbane before or after the tour. This hotel is conveniently located across the road from the Howard Smith Wharves, another place for great food, and a short walk from Fortitude Valley, the beating heart of Brisbane's vibrant nightlife.
Some people choose to stay at Cystalbrook Vincent the night before joining the tour
The first stop on the tour is Mt Tamborine. This once-popular destination in the Gold Coast Hinterland has lost some of its shine as newer and better places have popped up across the region. Still, a stop at Witches Falls Winery for wine tasting with accompanying local cheese is a great way to get things started.
Enjoy wine under the shade trees at Witches Falls Winery
This is then followed up by lunch at Mason Wines on the back deck overlooking the beautiful estate. They serve great food suited to the season and match it with the right wines. One of the more popular dining experiences in Mt Tamborine, even for Tamborine locals.
From Tamborine, it is a straight run to Byron Bay and the Crystalbrook resort set in a beautiful rainforest estate. Your room is a suite overlooking the forest. At night, you will be lulled to sleep with a combination of rainforest sounds and ocean waves in the distance. I was lucky enough to stay there when it rained overnight, so I experienced the triple all-natural sleep soundtrack and had the best night's sleep I have had in a long time, waking up feeling incredibly refreshed.
Upon arrival, you will have a little time to relax and maybe walk around the grounds or just shower and change in your room. But you will have more time later to explore, so best to keep it simple on the first day.
The next item on the tour is an Aboriginal Culture Tour with Arakwal custodian, Delta Kay. This includes foraging for native plants as well as tasting native foods. This is not just about food, but more importantly, hearing the local stories about the area, as every tribe and region in Australia has its own indigenous culture and traditions.
Dinner will be with the tour group at the Forest Restaurant at the hotel. This great restaurant is worth visiting by itself, and the preferred seating is always outdoors overlooking the rainforest. this is a great fine dining experience, but for big eaters, there are some great filling options, like the steak.
On day 2, get up at your leisure, maybe having breakfast at the Forest restaurant. You can also order room service or even bring some food to cook for yourself in your suite. There is no need to rush as the morning is up to you.
Smashed avocado with poached eggs, coconut feta & pesto on sourdough
For those who don't want to sleep in, you can spend the morning on a number of organised optional activities. Some will be free, and others attract an additional fee. Early risers might want to go ballooning or join the free yoga classes at the hotel. You can also go kayaking or surfing. If you haven't already, now is the time to explore the grounds or follow the path out the back to Tallow Beach. There are courtesy bicycles if you want to ride into town.
Tallow Beach is a short walk from Crystalbrook Resort
The first location for the day is a farm tour and lunch. The Farm, yes, that its name, is a collective of micro farms and businesses that share the same philosophy for environmentally sustainable food production and giving back to the community. You will have a chance to do the 1 km walk around the farm and learn about some of their business and approaches.
On The Farm is Three Blue Ducks. This high end restaurant is often packed, even on weekdays, so it is lucky that with the tour you always have a booking. You can enjoy share platters and individual plates of food. Much of what you will be eating is sourced locally on The Farm itself. The food is delicious, and my only disappointment is that they do dress up and flavour a lot of the dishes, while I would have preferred something where you can really taste the natural flavours of organically grown and freshly picked produce. Still an extremely enjoyable lunch experience.
After lunch you the tour visits the Stone & Wood Brewery, which is a bit of a step down from the higher end places previously visited. No longer a little startup, but a company that sold for $500 million, it is now just one step below visiting the old classic commercial breweries. When visiting you will get to taste both their classic and experimental beers, as well as learn about what makes their beers different. If you are lucky you will get to also taste beer direct from the vat of beer still being brewed. Given that I can get Stone & Wood in pubs and bottle shops all over the country, I would be far more interested in some of the upcoming breweries in the region.
Loading up tasting paddles at Stone & Wood Brewery in Byron Bay
After this it is time for a break in the rainforest sipping gin and tonics. Cape Byron Distillery is essentially a big shed on a hill overlooking the restored rainforest of the farm. Along with tasting their gins featuring botanicals from rainforest, learn about how the rainforest was restored on the farm and how they use organic techniques to manage pests and encourage wildlife to return.
Learning about the distilling process at Cape Byron Distillery
Cape Byron Distillery is a great boutique business that is deeply rooted in both Byron Bay's environmentally conscious mindset and the current approach to creating great commercial products. It is one of my favourites from the tour for the location, background and drinks.
Exploring the restored rainforest at Cape Byron Distillery
After this is it back to the hotel. The afternoon and evening is yours. You may want to just relax at the hotel and return to the Forest Restaurant to enjoy more food from there. It is also a short Taxi or Uber ride into town where there are numerous great restaurants and a fun nightlife on weekends.
Last, day, so it is time to leave, but there is still a lot more to experience on the tour. You will have time for early morning yoga, a dip in the pool and breakfast at the Forest Restaurant. Or maybe you will just sleep in and relax.
Prawn omelette for breakfast at the Forest restaurant
The journey back to the Gold Coast and Brisbane starts. The first stop on the return back is Tropical Fruit World where you can learn about and taste a wide range of tropical fruit from across the world as well take a farm tour to learn about the farm operations. This is like exploring a botanical gardens as they used to be, where they learn which plants or varieties work best in the subtropical environment of Northern NSW. If you didn't have time to grab a coffee in the morning, then grab one from the cafe here.
Learning about tropical fruit at Tropical Fruit World in Tweed Heads
Lunch will be at Husk Distillery. Famous for their cultivated or agricole rum distilled directly from raw pressed sugar cane and their Ink Gin. Tastings here are a great way to end the tour while you learn more about their philosophy and distilling process.
Lunch is also at Husk and the food for lunch is simple but delicious, and goes well with cocktails or a few gin and tonics. When the weather is fine, they spread blankets under the lawn umbrellas for you to enjoy your meal picnic style.
The food at Husk is fairly straightforward but delicious
They can drop you off at your preffered location at the end of the tour. For people visiting the Gold Coast, this tour can be a good way to first visit the Hinterland and Byron Bay, then had to Brisbane to end off your grand tour of the region.
If you are looking to experience some of the best known food and drink venues between Brisbane and Byron Bay, then this is the tour for you. I know there are a lot of foodies out there who will want to eat and drink their way across the region. You also have a lot of optional activities available as well as some time to just relax or explore Byron Bay on your own.