The Greater Whitsunday Food Network was established in July 2015 to bring together the farm to plate value chain following a series of workshops and projects designed to encourage and support investment in local food and agritourism products in the region.
A key outcome was the release of the Mackay, Isaac, Whitsunday (MIW) Food and Agritourism Strategic Action Plan
This report identified the key actions necessary to transition from an agricultural region to a food and agritourism region. The formation of the Greater Whitsunday Food Network was the first step in this process and our organisation is working to implement key actions from within the strategy.The five key themes and our approach to these include:
By 2020 we will be a community connected to our food. We will be recognised as a fresh taste destination grown out of authentic seasonal experiences.
The Greater Whitsunday Region comprises the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday Regional Council areas This covers 90,000 square kilometres, which is three times the size of Belgium and twice as big as Denmark.
We have abundant resources and diverse landscapes to produce quality food all year around. With a diversity of rainfall and temperature we boast a broad range of agricultural production in different parts of the region. The wetter coastal regions around Mackay are ideal for cane growing with Bowen’s slightly drier climate well suited to winter vegetable production. The drier western areas are ideally suited to crop and cattle production. This allows us to produce world-class beef, grains, sugar, seafood, aquaculture, fruit and vegetables all within the same region.
In the north, Bowen is the largest winter vegetable production region in Australia, with capsicums, tomatoes, beans and melons among the main crops.
To the west, Clermont is cattle country, boasting a beef herd in excess of 500,000. According to Regional Development Australia the industry accounts of a gross value of nearly $500m, which represents just under 10% of Queensland’s total beef production.
Another significant industry is aquaculture, with a major prawn farm south of Mackay and a larger facility on the drawing board for north of Bowen.
The small township of Sarina is gaining a reputation as a big player in the food tourism sector, with Sarina Sugar Shed producing its award
winning rum along with their very popular range of sauces, liquers and ice-cream. Visitors can take a tour of the mini mill, taste the products
made on site and learn about the production of sugar in the region. Sarina Sugar Shed has recently taken out Queensland Tourism awards in Food
Tourism and for Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries.