Add ‘chocolate factory’ to any family holiday itinerary and you’re sweet as a nut. There’s no end of wineries, op shops and big roadside monuments your kids will tolerate if it means going loco for the cocoa with a factory visit to Brown Town.
Charley’s Chocolate, QLD
The cocoa trees at Charley’s Mission Beach plantation have to be cyclone proof to survive the 300km/h storms that often sweep through. But those winds have carried the legend of Charley’s amazing chocolate creations far and wide.
Sourcing beans from PNG, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, Chris and Lynn Jahnke also grow their own cocoa on 400 acres at the foot of Mount Edna. Factory tours take you through the history of chocolate and how it grows from tiny orchid-like flower into the bean pod from which the good stuff is extracted.
You’ll crack beans, nibble cacao nibs then taste the Charley’s range: milk, dark, single origin, beach coconut, tropical pineapple, Davidson’s plum, lemon myrtle – each more scrumdiddlyumptious than the last. charleys.com.au
Phillip Island Chocolate Factory, VIC
Home to the world’s largest chocolate fountain (it churns 400kg of ‘brown gold’ every three minutes), this amazing factory full of weird machines, crazy exhibits, and unique chocolate art might just be the sweetest spot in Victoria.
Witness a Statue of David made of chocolate, a mural of Dame Edna formed from 12,000 truffles and an entire miniature village constructed from brown gold. Best of all, you can get hands-on with whiz-bang devices that shape and mix chocolate into the shapes and flavours your heart (and taste-buds) desire.
History buffs will love the display of vintage chocolate advertisements on site, a cool backdrop to live chocolatiers working like wizards on marvellous creations. And if you don’t like chocolate you can get a great curry at the cafeteria. Phillipislandchocolatefactory.com.au
Haigh’s Chocolate Factory, SA
Since 1915, when Alfred Haigh began coating fruits in fudge from the Beehive Building on William Street, ‘Haigh’s’ has been South Australian for chocolate.
Now the oldest family-run chocolatiers in Australia, Haigh’s today churn out 250 varieties, including the famous Super Frogs and Speckles (a freckle but tastier).
Tours of their Parkside factory on Adelaide’s outskirts are free but bookings are essential. You’ll enjoy tastings of truffles, fudges, fruit centres and confections and even get dibs on the ‘seconds’ – mutant misshaped versions of the artisan chocolates available in 21 stores around the country. [email protected]
Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory, NSW
Believe it or not, running a chocolate factory can be a bittersweet experience. When organic farmer Neil Druce bought an abandoned flour mill in Junee in 1998 to produce chocolate, some cynical locals dubbed him “Willy Wanker.”
But Druce has had the last laugh. Today the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory pumps out 125 tonnes of licorice (made from the wheat and spelt grown on Neil’s family farm in Ardlethan) and almost 300 tonnes of chocolate every year.
Tours of the rustic factory feature huge vats of spinning milk and dark chocolate and allow you to make your own giant freckles and rocky road. And if your sweet tooth needs a break, there’s a pumping bistro for burgers, beers and ice creams.
Gourlay’s Sweet Factory, TAS
Galaxy Whips, Cherry Ripples, Jockey Caps, Coconut Roughs and Peanut Clusters. Since 1896, Gourlay’s has been pumping them out from their little Launceston factory on the same original equipment using traditional, often secret, methods.
Here conveyor belts whirr with Tassie truffles and chocolate raspberries while vats of fantastic coloured liquids make a range of acid drops and hard candies. It carries on the work of founder William Johnson Gourlay who immigrated to Australia on the same boat as Macpherson Robertson, inventor of Cherry Ripe.