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Free food tourism forum on the menu in Bundy

DIRECT FROM THE FARMER: Fig grower Ash Emerick welcomes tourists on to his farm at Alloway.
DIRECT FROM THE FARMER: Fig grower Ash Emerick welcomes tourists on to his farm at Alloway. Eliza Goetze

FOR people who salivate at the thought of fresh, quality produce, the Bundaberg and North Burnett region is what culinary dreams are made of.

Growing 25% of the country's produce right here in our own backyard, including 40% of the country's macadamias and 80% of Australia's sweet potatoes, the opportunities are endless when it comes to putting the region on the menu.

Next month the growers, the makers, the eaters and the drinkers will come together for a free forum focusing on visitor experiences in culinary tourism.

The forum will be facilitated by former Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager James Corvan, one of a number of people who started the culinary tourism revolution in the region almost a decade ago.

He also worked towards securing Lady Musgrave tours and played a huge role in making the Mon Repos Turtle Experience the success story it is today.

Still passionate about the region, Mr Corvan said the forum was about exploring new opportunities.

"We're bringing a really good couple of speakers from interstate, from similar sized areas ... people that have been there, done that and hopefully our operators can learn from them,” he said.

"What the consumers are looking for and how the farmers and restaurants can work together to supply even more local produce to the local market.

"We're only scratching the surface at the moment and it would be fantastic if just about everywhere you went there was at least one dish off the menu of local produce.”

INSPECTING THE GOODS: Suzie Clarke's Bundy Food Tours stops in at Redridge Produce at Alloway.
INSPECTING THE GOODS: Suzie Clarke's Bundy Food Tours stops in at Redridge Produce at Alloway. Eliza Goetze

Current BNBT general manager Katherine Mergard said the event would also encourage stakeholders to embrace storytelling to make visitor experiences memorable.

"What people remember most about their holiday are the experiences that emotionally connect them with authentic people and places ... and later share with their friends and family,” she said.

"With the Bundaberg North Burnett regions abundant connection to food and drinks, we're now learning how to take our culinary delights one step further and bring our stories to the table as well.”

Bundy Food Tours owner Suzie Clarke has been running the farm tours for eight months and said visitors wanted to meet farmers, know what was available locally and where to find it.

"At the moment we don't have enough options for people to experience local produce - we have some but not enough,” she said.

"In some instances, what we discovered last year, is that some places are using local produce but they're not promoting it.”

The forum will be held from 8.30am-3.30pm on April 5. Register at bit.ly/2mlZrRj.



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