Region’s best set to shine

The Taste Bundaberg Festival showcases some of the region's best. Picture: BUNDABERG TOURISM AND PAUL BEUTEL

Excitement is mounting as Bundaberg sets the table in preparation for Taste Bundaberg Festival’s return.

The annual celebration of all things food and drink in the home of some of Australia’s biggest culinary brands will run from 11 to 20 June.

The region’s agricultural and culinary industries didn’t miss a beat last year, continuing to grow 25 per cent of Australia’s fresh produce and keeping glasses topped up around the world.

And now the little region feeding the nation is ready to party, with 10 days of unique culinary experiences plating up the freshest of dining delights in iconic locations around the region.

The program has been very warmly received by locals and tourists alike, with major events including the Pop-Up Polo, the inaugural Banquet on the Bridge, festival favourite Chilli and Lime Fiesta at Riverfeast, the Festival Farmers Markets and the Farm Flavours Picnic turning heads and many selling out fast.

Bringing fresh eyes and national positioning will be celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow who will work with one of Bundaberg’s top restaurants to deliver a multi-course celebration of location food and drink across the first weekend and hosting cooking demonstrations.

Limited tickets for the Signature Dinner were still available at the time of writing, and the popular cooking demonstrations had seats available.

Another culinary star attending will be Mark Olive from The Black Olive, Australia’s illustrious Indigenous chef, who with Bundaberg’s Joey Caruana will showcase authentic local cuisine at Bundaberg’s inaugural Mon Repos First Nations Dinner, an evening of culture, community and togetherness.

Bundaberg’s Pop-Up Polo returns after a huge inaugural event in 2019 with local produce leading the charge for the festival.

Part of the largest polo circuit in the world, Urban Polo, guests will be treated to an incredible menu and rub shoulders with the likes of Pop-Up Polo ambassador Paige Van Luntere and some of the nation’s best polo players.

Since these inaugural events, this exciting new offering has captured the imagination of regional Queensland, with numerous locations earmarked for inclusion in the future.

Events Queensland director Matthew Turich said the pop-up events were designed to expose regional cities to the hospitality, glamour and social engagement of polo, which until now had been reserved for metropolitan audiences.

“Held on 19 June from 11.30am to 5pm, Pop-Up Polo is an aspirational, interactive and engaging event,” he said.

“Above being an inimitable, sensory and social experience, much of what makes this event so successful is its ability to integrate local business, produce, cuisine, culture and the community into the fabric of the event.

“The Bundaberg region presents as a truly unique, diverse and prosperous destination for the events and tourism industry with amazing beaches, picturesque farmlands, maturing hospitality industry, world-class produce and a vibrant business community.

“We look forward to delivering a world class event, which will provide social engagement, economic stimulus and showcase the very best the region has to offer to an extensive audience.”

The Taste Bundaberg Festival will kick off officially with the fan favourite Chilli and Lime Festival at Riverfeast on Friday 11 June, with a food and drink menu hitting hard with local chilli and lime flavours and live entertainment as the sun sets over the Burnett River.

The annual Taste Farmers Market returns on Saturday 12 June with farmers and stallholders serving up fruit and vegetables fresh from the fields, trees and vines alongside a diversity of delights available right across the region in Alexandra Park alongside the Burnett River.

Small-group tastings of craft beer at The Brewhouse, locally roasted Kadilly Coffee at HSG At The Gardens and hand-made gelato at Alowishus’ pop-up cart at parks around the region will be sure to delight.

Ohana Ciderhouse will throw a fantastic party as they announce this year’s People’s Cider and new tour operator and local Jo Jo will host a food and drink tour.

Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid said: “Bundaberg’s reputation as a foodie paradise is growing fast throughout Australia.”

“We live in one of Australia’s most prolific food bowls, growing 25 per cent of Australia’s fresh produce, and are world-famous as the home of Queensland iconic flavours, such as Bundaberg Rum and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.

“The appetite for regional events and travel is particularly high, as Australians seek to rediscover our incredible bucket list destinations that travellers around the world save for years to come and experience.

“Bundaberg has seen a surge in demand as Queensland and domestic travellers flocked to experience our holiday experiences and explore the Great Barrier Reef and mainland attractions we offer in such close proximity to Brisbane.

“Bundaberg’s culinary icons are long-established in the Australian psyche and the region has been attracting significant attention as an emerging culinary destination right on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

“The festival will showcase our chefs, our producers and our wealth of leisure offerings to well-travelled foodies in the safety of a regional Australian community.”

The event is possible thanks to the partnership between Bundaberg Regional Council, Bundaberg Tourism, the regional tourism and culinary industries, as well as Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and Events Queensland.

Taste Bundaberg Festival is supported by the Queensland Government via Tourism and Events Queensland and feature on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.