26 September 2023

Australia’s ultimate breakfast challenge

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By John Rozentals.

NOTE: Potential travellers should check the status of individual events and establishments with regard to the coronavirus outbreak.

Alex Cameron and his wife, Jen, and (sitting) local grower Anthony Rehbein. Image: Paul Beutel.

End to end, the avocadoes in 150 million serves of sourdough topped with smashed avocado would stretch half way around the equator. It’s hard to picture, yet that is what is produced by the Bundaberg region every year.

The Bundaberg region is one of the largest avocado-growing regions in the country, producing over 78 million individual avocadoes annually.

Located about a four-hour drive north of Brisbane, a unique mix of rich red volcanic soil, stable sub-tropical temperatures and the water security of the Paradise Dam means Bundaberg produces 25 per cent of the Australia’s fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts 12 months of the year.

It is one of the nation’s most critical food bowls, and yet one that most Australians aren’t aware of.

Bundaberg Chef and restaurant owner, Alex Cameron, says smashed avocado on toast is a top-selling item during the peak growing season.

“We can’t keep up with the demand for smashed avo toast, especially during winter and spring, when avocadoes are at their most abundant,” he said.

Alex and his wife, Jen, moved to Bundaberg three years ago to establish their boutique café-restaurant, Water Street Kitchen.

Perfection: a case of Bundaberg avocadoes.

The business has grown to be an iconic foodie destination for locals and visitors alike, featuring in initiatives like Follow The Flavour Trail In The Nation’s Food Bowl with Alistair McLeod in The Australian, with Bundaberg Tourism, and picking up coveted Australian Good Food Guide Readers’ Choice awards in 2019 and 2020.

“It wasn’t until we moved to Bundaberg from the Gold Coast to establish Water Street Kitchen that I started to understand the enormity of the farming community here,” Alex said.

“We have been blown away by the amazing array of top-quality fruit and vegetables available in our backyard, and the growers have really welcomed us into their community, encouraging us to use some of their more unique produce lines, like zucchini flowers, in our dishes.

“I can’t deny that having locally grown avocadoes on our menu is a real boost to business.

Bundaberg on table: a range of local produce.

“I’m still wrapping my head around the size of the industry here locally. When it’s converted to pieces of avocado toast, the sheer volume of fruit is incredible.”

Growing avocados in the Bundaberg region for close to two decades, local producer, Annaleise Donovan says demand for their fruit has skyrocketed in recent times.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for avocados, and we attribute much of that to the cafes and restaurants throughout the nation using our produce in their meals, including smashed avo toast,” she said.

“The increase also comes from people becoming aware of the superfood avocados are. With everyone on a health kick of some kind, avos are a go to for nutrition and vitamins.

“We’re very thankful of the climate here in our region. It’s perfect for avocado production and ensures we produce quality fruit, year in, year out.”

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