Breakfast is served at Amamoor Lodge.
Breakfast is served at Amamoor Lodge. K. Heaney

It's time to discover new gold in Gympie

IT'S TIME to put new-look Gympie back on your radar and discover the gold grown on the hills rather than underground.

A gateway to the lush Mary Valley, sleepy Gympie first came to fame when alluvial gold was discovered in the Mary River in 1867. Now it is drawing new treasure from its country roots to create destination highlights where the coffee is so good you could think you were in a city laneway.

Soma Soma in Mellor St is a Gympie cafe with cred and even a little attitude. Its daily jamu (health tonic) made from freshly sliced ginger, turmeric and whole peppercorn tea will undoubtedly put some pep in your step.

Another Gympie highlight is Platform No. 1 Cafe which draws its menu from the Mary Valley food bowl. Located at the historic Gympie railway station, it's a perfect pit stop before you ride the restored Mary Valley Rattler.

The train travels 46 kilometres from Gympie to the sleepy centre of Amamoor. It's a leisurely hour-long, one-way journey with plenty of small scenic villages surrounded by farming and food-producing land, criss-crossed by tracks, trails and waterways to see.

Click Clack Cafe at Amamoor Station is where you can enjoy a coffee and Janell Cox's home-made scones while you watch how they turn the train around. There is usually locally grown produce for sale as well.

Until recently, Mary Valley has been a bit of a hidden secret. It fell off the tourism radar in 2006 when many properties in the valley were resumed so they could be swamped by the Traveston Dam. Not surprisingly, the locals lost hope when that was their future, but in 2009 the dam was canned. Since the dam debacle, this once sleepy spot has awoken and is blooming with new promise.

There are Mary Valley eateries where you'll want to eat more than your fill of farm-fresh and ethically raised produce to take home and comfy beds to sleep in so you can do it all again the next day.

Fertile soils and rolling green hills have seen several primary producers set up in the valley. The area has proved a fertile field for feijoas, free-range chickens and pigs, pomelos and a wide range of other speciality crops which you will find at farm gate stalls.

Taste the valley at Kandanga Kitchen where Bec Edmonds and Trent Kirkwood have crafted a creative menu with local showstoppers to fill you with great country flavours.

When you have jam-packed that empty spot, take a wander through the Kandanga Farm Store next door where Amber and Tim Scott stock everything from locally grown fruit and vegetables to farm equipment.

Pick up a new solid wooden-handled trowel and some tasty meat for your dinner at the same time.

Just up the road at Amamoor Lodge, owners Christine and Malcolm Buckley will make you feel especially welcome with help from their friendly Director of Greetings, Chester the dog. There are rooms in the Queenslander-style lodge or self-contained studios.

To find out more, go to visitgympieregion.com

The writer was a guest of Destination Gympie Region.

Bec Edmonds brings out breakfast at Kandanga Kitchen.
Bec Edmonds brings out breakfast at Kandanga Kitchen. .

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