Long before the term ‘pivot’ became part of the everyday, one local businessman adapted his vision to suit the market; and has now discovered that the market is meeting him.
A little over 5 years ago the Sunshine Coast had just one brewery, a couple of wineries, and was still somewhat under the radar as a foodie tourist destination despite the many local growers and producers based in the region. But if you looked just below the surface, things were only just beginning.
There has always been a wealth of fresh produce being grown locally, with many small artisan producers doing their thing without much fanfare or flag waving. Noosa has always had a reputation for fine dining and excellent food, but then there are the local producers behind all of this, and of course the farmers who fill the Noosa Farmer’s Markets with fresh produce every Sunday.
The idea of a tourism business that would focus on this amazing local produce in the region was first conceived by Josh Donohoe who launched Creative Tours and Events about five years ago; but he soon realised he was just a little too early for the concept to work.
“I could see there were so many amazing growers and producers in the region, all of them with a great story to tell and many with unique and interesting products,” he said. “The problem was they weren’t focused or even interested in tourism being part of their business at that stage.”
Food Tourism is a growing industry, mainly because people want to know to more about where the food comes from. Add in the chance to meet the farmer and learn more about the person behind that produce and you have a powerful connection to the local region’s produce and its stories.
While some of our local produce has begun to shine on a national level; locally, the rise of breweries and distilleries has sparked interest from the domestic tourism market (as well as international, pre-covid). With our local breweries now tipping the scales at 17 in total, we have serious claims to the title of The Craft Beer Capital of the country, and now we can also add to that five (soon to be six) distilleries in the region.
While the local food tourism scene was still finding its feet, Mr Donohoe ‘pivoted’ to create Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours to meet the growing demand for brewery tours in the region.
“The craft beer scene is on the rise worldwide, and Noosa is no different,” he said. “We have three breweries in very close proximity in Noosaville in what I like to call ‘The Beermuda Triangle’, all offering unique styles of beer and family friendly venues.
“Take a short drive into the hinterland towns and you will find Copperhead Brewery & Restaurant and Pomona Distilling Co, both with beautiful restaurants to add to their drink offerings.”
Taking things to another level with combining local produce in their product, the team at Sunshine & Sons are not only making a range of quality gins and vodkas with local botanicals, but also small batch options with even more local flavour. Try their Parfait Gin that includes pineapple and is a nod to the Parfait served many years ago at the Big Pineapple, which is located next door to their distillery and tasting room.
Similarly, Diablo & Co with its alcoholic ginger beer and range of liqueurs best enjoyed as cocktails in its outdoor pop-up bar.
After a challenging year for everyone dealing with COVID, the local region has really been put on the map once again, and this time not for its nature and beaches, but also for its local produce.
While Mr Donohoe’s first business, Creative Tours and Events, may have been early on the scene five years ago, it has taken off recently as demand for local tours has grown significantly.
“Over the past half-decade we have built great relationships with farmers, producers, brewers and distillers and helped them tell their story to visitors to the region, as well as locals who often don’t realise what we have right here in our own backyard. We pride ourselves on providing genuine local experiences based on local produce and local stories.”
The best way to experience the local stories of the region, and sample amazing local produce along with a few locally-crafted drinks is to join one of their tours or charter a private tour.