Yes, I see you there thinking “Bowen? WTF?!?! Where is that?”…
Bowen is this little coastal town in North Queensland, known primarily for its mangoes. No, I’m not going to lie, that really is about all it’s known for.
But I recently had to do a roadtrip there for something work related. Imagine my joy – tiny little town in North Queensland where 90% of the menu is “steak” or “seafood”. However, having travelled in North Queensland in the past, I knew to come prepared.
I stocked up with my own food. Dried fruit, nuts, raw food bars, bread, vege spread (gluten free Vegemite), etc. Unsurprisingly it was all gone in 48 hours.
Me and the person I was travelling with did attempt to eat out at one of the local pubs one night. I would not call it a resounding success. Their salads came pre-dressed, their fries came pre-seasoned, they had gluten free bread, but it had egg in it, and literally every other meal had meat in it. However, I did suspect that this may be the case, so I had snuck in some food into my handbag before we went out. I ended up ordering the Turkish bread and trio of dips from the menu. Obviously I couldn’t eat the Turkish bread, but the dips were straight forward: olive, evoo, dukkah. They were all vegan and gluten free, just the bread wasn’t. So, because I’d been genius enough to bring my own bread, I was set.
Yes, I do find it totally ridiculous that it’s necessary to bring my own food like that. It’s an ongoing problem with travel to small regional towns. While the food they serve in these pubs can be healthy (I can see your surprise at that comment from here!), there are very limited options if you’re vegetarian, let alone if you’re vegan or gluten intolerant.
Having spent quite some time in North Queensland in the past, I’m aware enough of the situation. However for interstate or overseas visitors, I can see how this could potentially be an issue if you’re not prepared for it. The shops have limited opening hours, so if you’ve not stocked up in advance and you arrive when the grocery store is closed? Sorry, but you might be going hungry? I’m not saying these places need to cater to every single dietary restriction on the planet, obviously that’s not going to happen. But is it too much to ask that they don’t pre-make all the salads with dressing? I might have medical issues, but there’s plenty of others out there who just want their dressing on the side, allowing them to choose how much to use, so their salad isn’t drowning in it. They had a Thai beef salad on their menu, and I could have eaten the salad if they hadn’t pre-mixed in the beef and the dressing.
It was a little frustrating dealing with the attitude there when I asked about ingredients, but food aside, it was a fun road trip 🙂 Pretty little town!