Gourmet Traveller

RAY OF LIGHT

There are citrus notes of makrut lime, a trace of mushroomy umami-ness and a suggestion of fish sauce in the mix. But I’m not slurping noodles. I’m sitting outside Moonstruck, a modern café and gin bar on Noosa’s Hastings Street, nosing a quirky gin distilled a mere ten minutes away. It arrives perkily accessorised with local lime and a sprig of Vietnamese mint.

A pho-channelling spirit might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s indicative of how the food and drinks scene is maturing at this upscale coastal destination – becoming more fun, and increasingly confident about backing itself.

For years Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has proved a fertile launchpad for a throng of clever producers and growers – particularly Noosa Shire – a UNESCO biosphere just two hours’ drive north of Brisbane. It’s also succeeded in getting dining right, enjoying impressive bragging rights, particularly for such a tourist-centric region.

Classic venues such as breezy riverfront destination Rickys River Bar and Restaurant at Noosa Sound and neighbouring Wood Fire Grill and Locale, a handsome Italian on Hastings Street, all continue to win fans, fuelled in part by organic bounty from owner Ogilvie Group’s 250-hectare hinterland Maravista Farm.

Sails Restaurant, overlooking a stunning sweep of Noosa Main Beach, is another long-term champion of produce that hasn’t had to travel far, while

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