A guide to finding the best local specialties in SEQ
Shopping in SEQ Country Towns
There are lots of towns and communities around South East Queensland. Many of them have a reputation for a particular product, so if you are in town it is always a good idea to seek out, try and buy some of that product. This is your shopping guide for South East Queensland.
Each part of South East Queensland's Countryside has specialty products
Now this list is not about what is good about a place, but what that area does best. The motivation for this article comes from the sheer frustration around many tourist destinations not advertising their best products.
Stanthorpe is a fruit growing paradise. While well regarded for their stone fruits and strawberries, it is apples orchids that dominate the area. After all, where do you think their neighbour, Applethorpe, got its name.
Photo of Stanthorpe Courtesy of Wikipedia (17stddrinks)
Last time through we picked up a crate of apples for $7. That is way too many apples to comfortably eat in a week, so I was making apple muffins, apple jam and I still had lots left over. But next time I am passing through Stanthorpe, I will make sure to pull into one of the many roadside fruit and vegetable shops to pick up apples and other fresh produce.
Maleny is a country town that the hippies have taken over, but in a nice way. Maleny maintains most of its country charm. There are lots of reasons to pop into Maleny. You could visit the markets, try some ice-cream from Colin James Fine Foods or have coffee and cake at the UpFront Club.
But the one thing to look for here are organic products. We are not just talking about organic food, but organic clothes, makeup and other products. If you are into organics this is the place to be. Just have a wander down the main street in Maleny and you will be sure to find lots of places with organic products.
Heading to the countryside usually means I am going to pop into a fruit & veg shop and buy something locally grown. The Glass House Mountains area in particular has lots of market gardens. If you drive along Steve Irwin way, you will find several great fruit & veg shops between Landsborough and Beerwah. One of my favourites is Vecchio's.
The best fruit to buy in the Glass House Mountains are the local pineapples. In fact if you go to other country towns, even south of Brisbane, they will be selling "Glass House Mountains Pineapples". I always pick up pineapples here and remember I hate cutting up pineapples and usually buy mine pre-cut. But I can't help myself in the Glass House Mountains as the pineapples are both cheap and delicious.
Vecchio's Cafe and Fruit Shop on Steve Irwin Drive
Mt Tamborine has the lot. It has wineries, breweries, cheese factories, distilleries, antiques and more. But what Mt Tamborine does best is their handcrafts. The Gallery Walk area is South East Queensland's best place for handcrafts, knick-knacks and curios. This is because Mt Tamborine has become the home of many artists and crafts people looking for a rural location that is not too far from the city.
While not a country town as such, the Redcliffe Peninsula is popular day trip destination for Brisbanites. No trip to the area is complete without grabbing some seafood. Yes, you can pop into Morgans Seafood Market but you will also find oyster stands dotted around the area on weekends. Deception bay oysters are particular good.
You can also try the Redcliffe Markets that are on every Sunday. They sell a wide variety of products, including fruit, vegetables and sometimes seafood. There are also several fresh seafood shops on the shopping strip as well.
Photo courtesy of the Redcliffe Jetty Markets
Toowoomba (and Gatton): Seedlings
If you are into gardening, then you have probably already bought seedlings from Toowoomba or Gatton, where most of Brisbane's gardening shops obtain their seedlings. This means that Toowoomba and Gatton are the place to buy seedlings and plants at a bargain price.
Toowoomba is famous for its gardens, flowers and nurseries
There are lots of reasons to visit Toowoomba, but if you have a green thumb, then you should definitely think of popping into a nursery for a browse. Gatton nurseries though tend to have slightly better bargains as Gatton is less of a destination and more of a place to go shopping for plants as you pass through.
Photo of the Toowoomba Town Centre Courtesy of Wikipedia (Projo)
There is something to be said about a true country butcher. The real ones choose their meat while the animal is still alive (on the hoof as it were) and take great pride in their meats. While there are lots of country butchers around South East Queensland, the place to buy meat has to be across the border in Northern NSW. Tenterfield is a great weekend or long weekend away from Brisbane. The higher altitude and rainfall means it is a welcome cool escape from the heat on the coast.
The grass is greener across the border in Northern NSW
They have two award winning butcher shops, Premier Meats and Wizards Butchery. While their sausages are what wins awards, the beef and lamb cuts are what you should seek out. The greener grass and milder climates means that they have the best meat in the area, so next time you are there, pack your esky with ice and pick up a couple of trays.
Lamb and steak served at the Commercial Boutique Hotel in Tenterfield
You don't have to buy the steaks raw. You can also enjoy them in one of the local pubs. The newly refurbished Commercial Boutique Hotel serves the local produce with flair.
There are wineries everywhere around South East Queensland, but the main reasons to go to Montville are great food, lovely views and the wine. You can stop off at the Flame Hill Winery which has all three. Taste the wine, have a meal and take a few bottles home with you.
Enjoying wine and views on the deck at the Flame Hill Winery
Other notable wineries in the area include Mason Wines and Castle Glen Australia.
There are lots of places to buy cheese around South East Queensland. Kenilworth, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, doesn't have much going for it other than friendly country people, natural attractions and of course, the Kenilworth Cheese Factory.
Photo of Kenilworth Town Park courtesy of Wikipedia (Mattinbgn)