Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Old Station Teahouse, Cape Hillsborough, Mackay

Morning tea, mangoes,a Tawny Frogmouth,  and much more, that's what we found this morning when we took a drive to the Old Station Teahouse near Ball Bay.  We live in  sub-tropical Mackay, so we have been to the Old Railway Station quite a few times before, particularly when we have visitors, as it is only a 30 to 40 minute drive to get there along the Northern Bruce Highway. The drive at this time of year is very scenic and very green following some nice rain. We drive through lush cane fields,  past rocky and rugged hills such as The Leap where there is a great pub by the way, turn right at the Cape Hillsborough turnoff. We continue past glistening lagoons and egrets, cane paddocks, more craggy rocks, cattle and beautiful scenery, follow our nose and we  arrive at the Teahouse.

This trip wasn't just all about the food, as strange as that sounds, as we only had coffee and shared a delicious slice of Orange cake, we are saving our calorie intake for the weekend, LOL. The Devonshire Teas looked enticing though. I am also hoping to indulge in one of their High Teas for a special occasion one day. However, there are  lots of mango trees on the property, and the owner generously offered us bags so that we could collect some of the green mangoes off the trees. In the North it is mango season, called Mango Madness by some, and on the weekend I hope to make my first batch of Mango Chutney, from green mangoes, so I suppose you could say the trip was also about food, which was serendipitous as I hadn't planned for that. After all if we don't pick some whilst they are green, the flying foxes will take them.

There are still plenty more mangoes left on the trees for any of my Mackay friends who might be reading this. I only collected a bucket full, as a batch of My Mango Chutney recipe requires 2kg of chopped green mango and makes about 10 jars so that is enough, and I had also collected a few during the week from some roadside trees. The locals are mango hunting for green mangoes, a lovely tradition in Northern Australia in early Summer. I didn't mean to just talk about mangoes to start with, however that shows how excited I am to have found some. By the way, we don't pick green Bowen mangoes for chutney, they are left to ripen for munching on.

Green Common Mangoes for the picking

A Tawny Frogmouth related to a Kookaburra, that we think had been injured and is in captivity until it recovers.

The Old Station Teahouse is full of history, with the original building dating back 110 years when it was the Old Station House selling train tickets. The history has been captured and detailed beautifully with lots of Old School bric a brac, vintage furnishings and also some very traditional plants in the gardens.

For my garden and plant loving friends, a wander thought the gardens finds many treasures, such as soft cane dendrobiums in flower, water lillies, and many lush tropical plants and climbers.

A golden soft cane Dendrobium in flower

After some recent rain the gardens are springing back to life following a dry Winter. For visitors with pets, I think it is also dog friendly as a large outdoor deck area separate from the Station itself  brings a nice respite amongst the trees. Fairy lights, ancient trees from the Old Station days, orchids and bric a brac are all on show and to be enjoyed as we indulged in our morning tea. This is also a perfect venue for outdoor weddings, with  the beautiful surroundings and sizeable reception area, and the catering available through the Teahouse or the highly reputed NE foods in Mackay. It really ticks all the boxes for a versatile meeting place.

A splendid Oncidium Dancing Lady
And there's more. On Saturdays and Sundays, the Wood Fired Pizza Oven lights up and with a couple of cold drinks this is the place to be. We have indulged quite a few times before and the pizzas in this ambient outdoor setting are to be recommended.

For Northern visitors, a right turn off the highway towards Cape Hillsborough, and this must be the first stop. Then the Cape Hillsborough National Park beckons, with the beautiful beaches of Ball Bay, an early morning rendezvous with Kangaroos on the beach, coconuts lying on the beaches  presumably for the taking, numerous walking tracks and much more.

This place has won many awards

All of my thoughts and comments are independent and unconnected to the owners, and the food is always independently paid for. Check out their website or Facebook page for more details if you are interested in learning more.

Have an enjoyable weekend.

Best wishes



  1. It looks like a lovely place to visit, Pauline not that I will ever get up north. I wonder if there are many mozzies there. We went to Paronella Park back in the 1970s and nearly got eaten alive :-) So good to get free mangoes too,

  2. That sounds heavenly Pauline! I bought my first mango of the season the other day and it was very nice indeed although I can't wait for full mango madness to hit :D


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