July 21, 2020
In 2007, Spicers Retreats founder, Jude Turner, came across the delight that was The Tamarind, a small and exclusive Asian-inspired getaway located in Maleny, a town within Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland. This occurred just months after Jude had purchased a property in nearby Montville, namely Spicers Clovelly Estate, with the view to expand the Spicers property portfolio into the future.
The Tamarind’s prior owner and renowned Australian master of Thai cuisine, Paul Blain, had purchased the property in 1998. It had originally been owned by the Gardner family, pioneer farmers to the area. On site, there had been a school house to cater for the large family, as well as a cheese factory. Along one side, the property borders Obi Obi Creek and popular swimming spot, Gardners Falls. In the logging days, the old bullock road to the Maleny township had travelled along this border.
Paul had a vision to transform the property and rehabilitate the landscape. He built five rooms in the style of Asian longhouses to accommodate guests, and set up a restaurant which doubled as a cooking school. The Tamarind opened for business in early 2000. Later that year, it was awarded the Australian Gourmet Traveller Jaguar Award of Excellence for Australian Gastronomic Travel – it made quite an impression from the get go.
During those early days, over 8500 endemic rainforest trees were planted across the property, many by Paul himself, creating the lush surrounds that the Spicers Tamarind Retreat enjoys today. Encircled by a stream, the longhouses and restaurant’s peaceful atmosphere is heightened by the sound of running water and the well-established, sub-tropical landscapes. After Spicers purchased The Tamarind, Paul stayed on as General Manager until 2010. During that period, Spicers also bought the neighbouring seven acre property, and added 6 two-bedroom pavilions, the spa, and a manager’s house. There is also a two-bedroom cabin suitable for people with disabilities.
The Tamarind restaurant has been extended over time with the addition of a bar, and most recently the outdoor firepit area. It is now led by Head Chef, Dan Jarrett, and has built up an enviable reputation for its Asian-inspired cuisine; in 2019, it was awarded one Chef Hat in the National Good Food Guide. The renovated building now combines the Tamarind cooking school and conference area. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, Spicers held its inaugural Tamarind Asian Food Festival. The festival was a wonderful success celebrating new flavours, new experiences and connections.