It’s 9C and raining in the Adelaide Hills – not that I mind that, really. It’s just that I’ve seen how the other half live now and I can’t help but be slightly envious. You see, this time last week I was in the Whitsundays in Queensland. This is not a place I’ve visited before, but if I knew just how glorious it is at this time of the year I would have been hanging around there years ago. Honestly, what’s not to like about blue skies and sunny 25C days – and that is in their low season!
Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays and seems like a pretty happy place to start a holiday to me. It’s a buzzy little spot that looks to have something for everyone, with backpacker hostels, family accommodation, luxury resorts and a glittery marina where some serious money is moored. I stayed at The Water’s Edge Resort and, while calling it a resort may be gilding the lily a little, these are lovely, well appointed, spacious apartments with gorgeous swimming pools, stunning views and one of the best value, high quality restaurants I’ve seen in a while – especially in a holiday town.
Housed on the same level of the Water’s Edge complex as two of the beautiful infinity pools and looking out over the sparkling bay is the independently operated boutique Deja Vu Restaurant. An a la carte restaurant with seating either inside in air-conditioned comfort or outside under the shady pergolas, Deja Vu’s chef Patrice Duverger offers a diverse and thoughtful menu, but what they are really known for is their Long Sunday Lunch. This started out as simply a chef cooking for his mates on a Sunday and has now evolved into a gastro-tourism event that any visitor to Airlie Beach would be crazy to miss. With a view to die for, this lunch consists of eight courses served over five hours with live entertainment – all for just $44.50! I wasn’t there on a Sunday, but was treated to what was referred to as a hint of the long lunch. A hint that took three blissful hours to munch through and impressed with every new dish placed in front of me.
The antipasto platter with cured and cold meats, cheese, frittata, dips, dolmades and fresh breads.
Lemon pepper calamari and crumbed artichokes.
Tandoori chicken pizza & caramelised onion with crumbed boconcini pizza.
Lamb backstrap with red wine & mustard jus, asparagus & rosti
Passionfruit semi freddo with caramel and sesame seed wafers.
It probably won’t surprise any of you to discover that I needed a little lie down after that splendid lunch, but later in the evening my companions and I went for a wander down the main drag of Airlie Beach to another funkily decorated and obviously popular food and watering hole, Fish D’Vine. This little spot has won awards for it’s seafood and is noted for the house special of Chilli Mud Crab. The latter looked truly spectacular as it walked past me on the arm of a strong waiter, but I was in no state to tackle it, modestly noshing on the divinely fresh seafood platter instead. However, I did indulge in my very first Mojito.
Attached to Fish D’Vine is the eye-catching Rum Bar – an impressive wall of rum which must be passed to get into the cafe itself. This is truly an arresting sight and I was informed by the head barman and self-confessed rum-tragic that they house over 300 different rums in the bar, hailing from over 30 different countries. Naturally enough they have become noted for their Mojito’s, being named as one of the best in the world and “up there with the likes of La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba.” Being a newbie to the lures of the Mojito, I had nothing to compare but was very happy with it nonetheless. Just what I needed – another drink to lure me down the path of ruin!
Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of Tourism Whitsundays , the Deja Vu Restaurant and Fish D’Vine.[mc4wp_form id="16750"]
One mojito is never enough – welcome to the club of those who have succumbed to the lures of this cocktail !!
What a wonderful way to spend a lazy Sunday indeed! We were there a few years back in “winter” and were absolutely stunned to see locals in overcoats in 25*c! I guess it’s all relative, and they would probably almost die in our minus 5 morning today 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
Oh what a shame that you didn’t try the chilli mud crab-that’s reason alone with visit the Whitsundays!
Lizzy (Good Things)
How divine! I’m just back from FNQ myself… loved Port Douglas and Cairns, but have never been to the Whitsundays. Thanks for sharing!
I just love to be up there at this time of year and escape the depths of our winter. There’s nothing better than FNQ. It’s one of my most favourite places to holiday xx
Barbara | Creative Culinary
You had me at mojito…but then everything looks lovely.
How nice for you to get a chance to warm up a bit; it’s hard to imagine the need with our 90 degree temps right now but my Aussie friends do remind me that we are not all on the same wave length with weather!
Love, love Airlie Beach after spending a month there in the early 90’s courtesy of a relative who owned a block of units. Been back twice for a day visit when our ship called in there and my how it has changed. So many lovely day trips to the islands from there, just the best place for a holiday in winter. You will have to go again now Amanda after finally finding paradise.
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
I LOVE the Whitsundays! If it didn’t get so hot and mosquitoey I’d live there 🙂