Chef Tory McPhail shares his top Queensland picks.
Two years ago, chef Tory McPhail of New Orleans’s legendary Commander’s Palace proposed to his then girlfriend (now wife) Britt Nelson in Queensland. Recently, the two returned to the Australian state to eat, snorkel, skydive and cuddle koalas. Here, McPhail’s guide to Queensland:
WHERE TO EAT
The Long Apron, Montville
The Long Apron is located in the Spicers Clovelly Estate resort in the heart of the Sunshine Coast’s Hinterland. It’s a 20-seat restaurant putting out world-class dishes. The one that stood out the most to me was their preparation of kangaroo. Here, I had the tail, which is considered a delicacy. It was super tender with lots of great local flavors such as native berries, buffalo curd and roasted watermelon jus. The Aussie’s love cooking with edible branches and berries.
The Beach Bar & Grill Mooloolaba Beach, Moolooaba
The chicken parmys here are so off the wall and wild, I have to share. This is not like an American version of chicken Parmesan, and yes, they call them parmys. Here, they top a massive piece of free-range breaded chicken breast with a choice of toppings. I got the Ranch, which is topped with smoky bacon, fresh avocado, mozzarella and ranch sauce. Greatest beach and bar food with a badass view of the ocean!
This restaurant made my favorite preparation of the local Morton Bay bug. It is a cross between a shrimp and lobster in taste and looks. Chef Matt Moran grills them and they are dynamite! The restaurant has a beautiful view of the River with an outstanding wine and cocktail list.
WHERE TO SHOP
Maleny Cheese, Maleny
This local cheese monger specializes in cheddar. Be sure to sample them all because you can. I sure did!
Sweets on Maple, Maleny
Fudge lovers, take note! I felt like I had walked into Willie Wonka’s shop. She has everything sweets and chocolate, all made locally.
Flame Hill Vineyard, Montville
I had no idea Queensland had wineries. Flame Hill was picturesque and made outstanding wines. I love bubbles and rosé and they had both.
WHAT TO DO
Surf in Noosa Heads
My wife learned to surf here on our trip! It’s the best place to learn to surf because it is a north-facing beach and the waves are easy to learn on. We had the best teacher from Noosa Learn to Surf.
The best adrenaline rush ever! I couldn’t stop laughing. I had the best tandem guide with Skydive for Fun. Another bucket list check!
This takes snorkeling to a whole new level. It’s like a mini Jet Ski—but super light—that you can dive down into the water with and see the coral and reef life. One of the awesome adventures offered at One&Only Hayman Island. Awesome!
Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
You can snorkel just about anywhere here and it’s absolutely clear and stunning, but if you want to see much, much more, I would take a day trip to Reefworld. The marine life is insane and colorful.
Take a Helicopter Tour of the Whitsunday Islands
I asked my beautiful bride to marry me here, so I took an aerial tour of where she said yes. One&Only Resort offers this not-to-miss excursion. Words cannot describe the sheer beauty of this place. Unbelievable!
Visit the Australia Zoo
Steve Irwin’s Pet Resort, as they call it, is a great place to check out the local wildlife. I got the amazing opportunity to hold Milo the koala and to feed kangaroos.