The Elandra, Mission Beach

August 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

The most recent Blushing Strawberries hiatus has been with very good reason as NB and I managed to escape the constant stimulation of Sydney and recharge our batteries in tropical north Queensland.

We flew out of the city in the wee hours of a dark Thursday morning into a warm and sunny Cairns, before hiring a car to drive 90 minutes south to Mission Beach. The drive through Innisfail and the surrounding areas was field upon field of sugar cane and banana plantations, rocky mountains and lush greenscapes. We passed signs to Murdering Point Winery and listened to Kenny Chesney, rolling our windows down to breathe in the fresh and up again during a passing storm. When we turn off the Bruce Highway to Mission Beach we encounter the first of at least a dozen signs cautioning us to watch for cassowary’s, and watch we did, for five days, with not a single cassowary to be found! The Cassowary Coast indeed!

Mission Beach is a divine place, one of the few truly little, sleepy beachside towns that are left along the eastern coast of Australia. There are a scattering of eateries in Mission Beach proper  – a couple of cafes, a Mexican restaurant and a pizza place, as well as bar and grill options in some of the caravan parks and hostels. There is also a Woolworths that closes at 5pm on Saturday and doesn’t open on Sundays, and a delicious little Thai restaurant – Spicy Thai Hut –  on Tully Mission Beach Rd, around the corner from the supermarket.

Nearly every third house in town is holiday accommodation and there are a number of caravan parks and hostels, but if it is luxury you are after then you must stay at The Elandra. Such a beautiful resort I’ve never seen, high up on the hill in South Mission Beach it feels as secluded as though you are staying on your own private island. Daybeds surround an infinity pool with panoramic views across Dunk and Bedarra islands, beautiful sunlit rooms have rainshowers, king beds and balconies overlooking the coral sea that are adorned with beanbags for reading and sipping champagne. A private beach leads down to mangroves, and while I admit to mild panic at the Achtung! Crocodile! signs along the far end of the sand, we swam and walked with ne’er a sight of the hungry reptile (although I wouldn’t be nearly so flippant during the summer months when both crocs and box jellyfish can be found in the surrounding waters).

While many resorts often let themselves down in the kitchen, The Elandra excelled itself in food, drink and service. Produce was fresh and often locally sourced, cocktails were many and magnificent, the cutlery was large and elegant and everything on the menu sounds delicious, simply made to share. Breakfast options were the choice of a continental spread – coffee/tea, cereal, fruit and yoghurt, pastries and toast (with homemade jam as thick and rich and stewed fruit) – or enjoy richly-yolked free-range eggs scrambled, poached or benedicted, freshly squeezed juices, mushrooms with goats cheese, and bircher muesli.

Lunch was pork belly and scallops,

finely diced bruschetta made with turkish fingers

coconut-coated squid with mango and pawpaw dressing and other such delicacies

Over the four nights we shared a poppyseed tuna tartare, white wine garlic prawns with addictive coconut bread, thai beef salad, barramundi wontons floating in a light asian broth, and angel hair pasta with sweet flakes of balmain bug. Where was my camera during all of this you may ask? I was enjoying myself too much and blogging certainly wasn’t at the front of my mind!

Being out of the city did wonders for my body and soul. No traffic, no streetlights, real stars and saltwater, fresh food and lazy afternoons, sleep ins and swims, walks and reads, no gym, no work, no stress. Even though we flew back into a Sydney storm on Monday night, and Tuesday was wet and cold with a bitter wind, my batteries were recharged, my energies reconnected and my overall chi was…well…chi’d! I’m now ready to face the last three weeks of winter and enter my spring training with a bouncing step and my spring kitchen with a head full of ideas!

And healthy body starts with a healthy mind!

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