The Macleay Valley Food Bowl is a fertile region with healthy alluvial soil that produces meat, chicken, avocadoes, nuts and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The rivers and waters surrounding the Macleay Valley Coast also produce plentiful seafood. Here’s a list of the best places to get your hands on local produce grown and gathered with love in our valley.
1. Local markets
One of the best ways to source produce grown on the Macleay Valley Coast is to visit the local markets. Pop into the Gladstone Quality Market on the third Sunday of every month to sample the diverse array of seasonal fruit, veggies and seedlings on offer. There is also the Kempsey Riverside Market, held on the first Saturday of each month or the South West Rocks Beachside Market on the second Saturday of every month which also features a large range of locally grown produce and home-made condiments.
2. Gladstone Fruit and Vegetables
Located in the heart of the Macleay Valley Food Bowl, the Gladstone Fruit and Vegetables is where you’ll find the freshest seasonal fruits and veggies, many of them grown less than ten kilometres away by small farmers who raise crops in the lush soil of Kinchela, Gladstone and along the Belmore River. The store also sells homemade jams, pickles, relish and chutney as well as local milk, cheese and yoghurt.
3. Kempsey Macleay RSL
Set on the banks of the Macleay River, the Kempsey Macleay RSL includes one of the top restaurants in our region, Freshwater Grill. Chef Lloyd Newell grew up in the Macleay Valley before moving away to work at several top restaurants in Sydney. Upon returning home, Lloyd channelled his experience into creating a delicious menu for the club that is firmly centred around seasonal and local produce. Expect high quality, tender meat sourced from Macleay Valley farms and dishes that feature local vegetables and seafood.
They also have local beer Bucket Brewery here, or you can visit their brewery in South Kempsey for an amazing local experience!
4. Steam & Cedar, Gladstone
Steam & Cedar is a place where you’ll not only enjoy the freshest local produce but be immersed in the beautiful village atmosphere of Gladstone. Run by local couple, Dan and Beth, the café is located within The Gladstone Hub and features a rotating menu that almost always showcases local produce – some of it grown in and around the village itself. Dan is famous for his inventive streak, and has been known to design an entire menu around a bag of local quinces or a glut of silverbeet! If you consider yourself a foodie, Steam & Cedar is a must.
5. L-Bow Butchery & Milly Hill Meats in Kempsey
Locally owned and operated by Josh and Shelley Ball, L-Bow Butchery is the top procurer of high quality local beef, pork, lamb and chicken. There is also Milly Hill Meats who are very friendly and passionate about what they do, so be sure to ask their advice on how to prepare the meat of your choice.
6. Macleay River District Fisherman’s Cooperative, Jerseyville
The Macleay River District Fisherman’s Co-Op in Jerseyville (on the way into South West Rocks) is supplied by around 40 local fishermen who catch top notch quality seafood, including seasonally caught fish, mud crabs, prawns, oysters, octopus and shellfish. The co-op currently supplies the Sydney Fish Market and over 60 local restaurants, pubs, clubs and seafood outlets. Visit the Jerseyville retail outlet, where you can watch the trawlers come in and unload their catch (if your timing is right) and purchase seafood that is as fresh as it gets.
7. Bulk health food stores
Whole & Happy in Gladstone are a speciality bulk food and sustainable living retail and online store. Sourcing healthier and more earth friendly choices so you don’t have to.
Along with serving luscious lunches that are loved by locals (the vegetarian quiches are not to be missed!), Kempsey Bulk Healthfoods stocks a healthy range of locally grown and organic seasonal produce including avocadoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, pecan and macadamia nuts and more.
8. nulla nulla blacksmith farm
9. Garden Bar & Kitchen, Frederickton
The relatively new Garden Bar & Kitchen is garnering top reviews for its mouth-watering meals that feature local produce (even the menu lists the producers). Stop in for a breakfast of Blue Moon free range eggs from Clybucca or enjoy some Kempsey Costa Honey with your cake. The Garden Bar also sources cheese made by the nearby Eungai Creek Buffalo Farm.
10. The Green Room, Crescent Head
Nestled in the village of Crescent Head, the Green Room is a hub where you can often find bananas grown on nearby farms alongside local tomatoes, garlic, avocadoes and herbs. Owner Kate and her team also sell locally-made relishes and chutney as well as candles, skin cream and local art. While you’re there, be sure to try some of their healthy food and smoothies.