After spending a month traveling up the east coast of Australia by bus, I decided to take one day to travel my own way… which always includes lots of sweet stops. And so, without further ado… the sweetest day trip from Cairns.
Mossman is the traditional home to the Kuku Yalanji people, and there is still a large indigenous population in the area. Today is all about the food, but if you have another free day, be sure to visit Mossman Gorge to learn about traditional uses for plants in the rainforest and take part in a smoke ceremony conducted by the indigenous people.
Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery
I first experienced the award winning wines of Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery in December 2015. My family had planned a visit to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, but the majority of our activities were cancelled because of a monsoon. Thankfully, Trudie at Shannonvale saved the day by serving up a tasting of wines created with exotic fruits such as kefir lime, mangosteen and black sapote.
I’ve been dreaming about their ginger wine for nearly a year, so it didn’t seem crazy to rent a car for $77 and head north from Cairns to buy some more of their wine. I was aAfraid that the months of build up would lead to a disappointing first taste… but it was I just as good as I remembered!
The only way to get to Cape Tribulation is via the Daintree River ferry, which will set you back about $25 roundtrip. It’s worth it though… when your other option is swimming through crocodile and bull shark infested waters, $25 seems quite reasonable!
Daintree Ice Cream Co.
Visit the Daintree Ice Cream Company for a bowl of ice cream. Forget chocolate and vanilla… The Daintree Ice Cream Company grows tropical fruit on property and makes their ice cream with the freshest flavors. As in, picked from a tree on their extensive plantation and turned into ice cream immediately kind of fresh. The day I visited, the flavors were coconut, davidson plum, mango and wattleseed. The greatest part? You don’t have to choose! They serve their ice cream in a bowl with small scoops of all four flavors! Now that’s my kind of ice cream store!
Cape Tribulation is located within the Daintree National Forest. Its cheerful name came from Captain James Cook, whose ship scraped the reef at this point, apparently beginning all of his troubles. Today, the greatest tribulation in this area comes with the cassowary. In the recent #theInternetNamesAnimals phenomenon, the cassowary was renamed Rainbow McMurderbird because of its gorgeous colors and penchant for running into the road in front of motorists or using its foot that transforms into a spear to stab those who get too close.
Cape Trib exotic fruit tasting
I had the privilege of doing my tropical fruit tasting with Sam, whose family owns Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm. His grandparents started the farm 38 years ago, buying it from people who had cleared the land and used it as a cattle station. Because it’s on the edge of the rainforest, plants grow quickly, and you’d never guess that the farm was anything but what it is now.
This year, Sam’s parents took over the farm, and are proud of the chance to introduce these tropical fruits to tourists and continue their family’s work through daily Cape Trib exotic fruit tasting.
Because of the seasonal nature of fruit, our tasting was limited to what could be picked at the end of winter. Lucky for us, a few of the trees had unseasonal production and we got to try quite a few fruits. Here’s the list of what we tried and a little information about each:
Black Sapote- This fruit is known as the chocolate pudding fruit and contains 2-4 times more Vitamin C than oranges. Black sapote should picked and consumed within 7 days or it gets too soft.
Breadfruit- This fruit is best described as a potato on a tree. We ate this starchy fruit after it had been seasoned and baked like thick french fries. One tree can feed an entire family for a year, so it’s making a huge difference in communities around the world and in the gluten free community.
Abiu- I loved the sweet caramel dessert fruit. You eat translucent flesh, but be careful not to get too close to the rind, which contains natural latex and is very sticky.
Yellow Mangosteen- In the world of fruits, purple mangosteen is queen. Maybe that makes yellow mangosteen the princess? Be prepared, though.. it’s very sour!
Star Apple- As soon as it’s cut, the star apple starts oozing white sap, earning it the name milk fruit.
Chico or Sapodilla- It looks like a kiwi, but its texture is granular like brown sugar, date and it tastes like cinnamon.
Canistel- This is the fruit of the Aztecs. It’s known as a happy fruit and can be used as a mood stabilizer. It has a texture like avocado or fluffy yolk which made lots of the tasters very anti-canistel. I didn’t mind it, though!
Jaboticaba- This fruit is originally from Brazil and is special because of the way it grows in a cauliflorous manner— straight from the trunk. It looks similar to a grape and has a sweet seed and tart skin.
Custard Apple- This sweet fruit looks like artichoke on the outside, but its inside is juicy white flesh with black seeds. Careful with those seeds, though! The presence of cyanide in the seeds can be very dangerous if you don’t take them out before making a smoothie.
Mamey Sapote- My American self loves this fruit, known as the sweet pumpkin pie fruit. It’s high in keratins and B5, and tastes like Thanksgiving!
Soursop- Known as the cotton wool plant because of its texture and the fruit salad fruit because of its taste, you’ll get hints of banana, mango and passion fruit. Research has shown this fruit has properties to isolate and kill rogue cells.
Jackfruit- The largest fruit in the world, the jackfruit can reach up to 110 pounds! The roasted seeds taste like chestnut, and although the outside of a ripe jackfruit emits a strong aroma, the inside is sweet with a pineapple and banana flavor. Miracle Fruit- This fruit really is miraculous! Sam gave us each a berry and a slice of lime, instructing us to lick the lime to ensure that it tasted sour. Then he told us to put the berry in our mouths, bite down to pop the berry and swirl around for 3 min. At that point, he asked us to lick the lime again… but everything had changed! The lime was sweet, and the lime water we were drinking tasted like Koolaid.
Sam told us to come back in February to try durian… but I think I might be busy then… Remember the last time I tried the stinky fruit?
Thus concludes an epic foodie day trip in the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Take the ferry back across bull shark and crocodile infested waters and enjoy the sunset over the South Pacific Ocean.
Have you tried exotic fruit in wine, ice cream or au natural form? Which is your favorite?
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