Most people don’t realize that the Bundaberg region is Australia’s most valuable vegetable growing region. You can’t miss the sugar cane fields as you drive through the region, but the yearly value of $200 million for that crop is dwarfed by the $500 million generated by the combined small crops. The rich volcanic soil and perfect climate contribute to the region being a big producer of fruit and vegetables including; tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum and macadamia nuts. The region produces around 90% of Australia’s sweet potatoes and even has the nation’s biggest chilli producer. The crops grown and packed here are found in supermarkets across the country. The coastal location also means there’s great seafood to be had all year round.
Bundy flavours is a week long celebration of this produce and we went to a couple of events during the week. At the beginning of the week, we chilled out at a Father’s Day picnic in the macadamia forests eating locally produced food including Kingaroy cheese, drinking wine and listening to some live music.
The week culminated with the Bundy Flavours festival in Alexandra Park near the Burnett river. Many local producers were represented and as a bonus it was free entry with lots of free samples available. Of course, we couldn’t resist picking up a few bargains as well, and came away with plenty for our pantry and fridge. Particularly interesting were some of the more unusual delicacies on offer including locally grown capers, dried fruit jerky, and pickled and fermented foods such as sauerkraut. Of course we can’t go past the inspiration for the title of this post, Bundy Bum Nuts.
The region is also famous for its drinks with Bundaberg Rum and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks (of ginger beer fame) having a big presence at the festival. [Interesting fact – Bundaberg Brewed drinks is one of the largest family owned soft drinks company in the world and is not formally connected to Bundy rum. The latter is owned by Diageo, a global drinks company whose brands include; Captain Morgan, Smirnoff, Baileys and Guinness.] One of the local newcomers to this sector is Bargara Brewery whose beers, including Thirsty Turtle and Crafty Canine, are getting a strong following locally and further afield. They’re about to open up a brewery in the CBD where you can see the beer being made and sample some whilst eating gourmet pizza – we can’t wait until it opens.
Alongside the produce for sale were some great cooking demonstrations with local chefs sharing the stage with TV celebrities such as Matt Golinksi and Alexander McLeod from Ready Steady Cook.
You can visit Bundaberg anytime of the year and taste the region’s range of produce including fruit and vegetables, seafood and numerous beverages. You’ll also be able to pay a trip to visitor centres at Bundy brewed drinks (The Bundy Barrel), Bundy Rum and soon to be opened, Bargara Brewery. However, if you’re able to coincide a visit with Bundy Flavours festival, we’d definitely recommend it. Here’s the supper platter we had after our visit – yum.