Tropical Queensland Fruit Salad (that can be adapted to any fruit available to you)

Our plane decending into Cairns.

Our plane decending into Cairns.

On our flight from Christchurch to  Queensland, Australia, the passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 weighed heavy on our minds, particularly when traversing such a large expanse of sea.

Skimming above the Great Barrier Reef making our decent into Cairns (the gateway to reef exploration) –   a collective sigh was audible.  Awe, certainly, of the aquatic opals beneath, but in one passenger’s pinched mouth and raised brow, I imagined her prayer that perhaps – just maybe – there could be a miracle for the lost passengers aboard that ill-fated flight.

Box jellyfish & crocodile alert!

Box jellyfish & crocodile alert!

Escaping the hustle of Cairns (pronounced “Cans”), Richard and I took a shuttle to our final destination – Port Douglas; a beach town whose small-town feel and hip sensibilities reminded me of Ann Arbor, minus winter’s frigid temps. It’s a town where the Great Barrier Reef meets the Daintree Rain Forest, our planet’s most ancient forest – what’s not to like?

You stay there, I'll stay here!

You stay there, I’ll stay here!

Maybe the monstrous spiders, icky creepy-crawlies, box jellyfish and saltwater crocs…or perhaps it’s the thousands of bats screeching through the skies each evening (it’s mating season in March). So you take precautions, such as wearing a stinger suit to thwart jellyfish when snorkeling, and get used to sharing space with the critters. After a few days, you wonder why you were concerned in the first place.

In off-season, $140 per night buys us a huge, 3-bedroom apartment with a gardened terrace leading to a pool and "barbie".

In off-season, $135 per night buys us a huge, 3-bedroom apartment close to town, with a gardened terrace leading to a pool and “barbie”.

Because it’s rainy season in the wet tropics, the tourists have diminished, which makes for ideal, stress-free exploration. A free upgrade in our accommodation, reduced tariffs across the board, no waits to explore the reef or get the best table when dining; paradise, enow! We carry our umbrella, rumor has it a cyclone is brewing off the coast, but only once has it rained.

Rambutan means "hairy".

Rambutan means “hairy”.

We’re at that stage in the journey where simplicity is appreciated, and that applies to the menu. What we enjoy most are the fruits; fruits we’ve never tasted. We could live off of the fruits found at the market in Port Douglas! An “apple”, for instance, so sweet, luscious, and creamy it’s aptly called a custard apple. A spiked, red-headed fruit –rambutan – chewy, sweet and slightly sour, somewhat like a grape – but way more fun to eat.                      .

Tropical Fruit Salad

Tropical Fruit Salad

Most of you don’t have access to these fruits – I don’t in Michigan – so the following recipe has been modified to suit whatever fruits are available to you. As with my last two New Zealand blogs, I’ve included a sprinkle of images from Queensland below. Some were taken at a wildlife refuge, others in the Daintree vacinity.




One of thousands of bats that enjoy fruits from particular trees in Port Douglas. They congregate at this time of year during mating season.


The endangered Cassowary; a huge flightless bird who makes the Daintree their home.


Koalas are not really bears but marsupials that feast on eucalyptus. A particular strain of chlamydia is now causing a devastating epidemic, wiping out their numbers.


The "Joey" peeked out Mama Roo's pouch, retreating swiftly when my camera was raised.


Freshwater crocs, saltwater crocs, crocodile farms; there was a solid barrier separating me from this dude.


Wallabies are smaller than kangaroo's - there was a field filled with the hopping critters a couple of miles away from the Cairns airport.


Every tree tells a story.


I almost ran head-into this web on my stroll at Cape Tribulation.


The low-pitched drone of the didjeridu, played by a native Aboriginal man, attired in native paint & garb for the tourists.

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Recipe: Tropical Queensland Fruit Salad


  • 28 ounces plain yogurt, strained Greek yogurt preferred
  • 4-6 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 cup grated coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
  • 1/3 cup pineapple or orange juice
  • 1 cup your preferred granola
  • 6-7 cups fresh cut fruit*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint, plus extra sprigs for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, 4 tablespoons honey, lime juice, ginger, 1/2 cup coconut, juice and walnuts. Add additional honey to taste.
  2. Spoon and layer fruit into dish or parfait glass, sprinkle with granola or nuts, top with yogurt and additional fruit, garnish with mint sprigs if desired, and serve.

* Raspberries, grapefruit, apple, pear, pineapple, pomegranates, grapes and bananas are available to many of us across the globe, year round, and fine in this salad. If available, lychee, guava, bread fruit, papaya, mango, passionfruit, rambutan and/or custard apples would be ideal.

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 large servings

Time: 25 minutes

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.




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