Escape to Queensland’s coolest towns

Get rugged up to experience country Queensland's rich pioneering past, stunning scenery and exceptional food and wine, with some guidance from Catherine Dunn.

Queensland, travel, scenery, holiday

Get rugged up to experience country Queensland's rich pioneering past, stunning scenery and exceptional food and wine, with some guidance from Catherine Dunn.

It’s the crisp winter chill in Queensland’s Southern Downs and Granite Belt, just two hours southwest of Brisbane, that’s earned it the nickname Brass Monkey Season (as in cold enough to freeze the you-know-what off a brass monkey).

When the mercury plummets, there’s no better time to get rugged up and experience the region’s rich pioneering past, stunning scenery, local art and exceptional food and wine.

Glengallan Homestead, just north of Warwick, stands as one of the few remaining examples of 19th century Queensland country houses. Perched in my cosy arm chair in the mansion’s restored drawing room, overlooking the surrounding countryside which was once all part of the Glengallan landholding, I try to imagine life as an early settler – when people “did it tough”. 

Leaving the warmth of Glengallan we jump in the car and follow part of the Southern Downs Sculpture Trail, featuring works by local and international artists using sandstone and granite sourced from the region. We stop for a hearty home-cooked meal and cold drinks on the sunny front deck of the Yangan Hotel, just one of the region’s charming country pubs.

Swapping our hatchback for a four-wheel drive, and sealed roads for rugged terrain, we get off the beaten track for a guided tour of the highlands surrounding nearby Killarney.

“You’re about to see the most beautiful part of the Southern Downs,” says Louise Brosnan, fifth-generation Killarney resident and operator of Cambanoora Co 4WD Tours. During our mostly hump- and bump-free journey through the stunning Condamine Gorge and its 14 river crossings, Louise’s commentary provides insights into the days of bullock teams, timber milling and local characters past and present.

We’re overnighting in nearby Warwick, and as the sun sinks lower in the sky I can’t help but be awestruck by the magnificence of our accommodation. Abbey of the Roses is a 120-year-old ex-convent turned boutique guesthouse with a sense of style and character all its own; from the metal pressed ceilings, antique furniture and stained glass to the warm mellow gold sandstone walls and blazing log fireplaces. We rest our weary heads in one of the original Nun Cells, but if you’re feeling holier-than-thou, book yourself into the Mother Superior room.

The following morning a blanket of frost gives a winter wonderland appearance to the Abbey’s grounds, but the cloudless blue sky and warm sun soon erase any thoughts of the cool start to the day.

With scarves and jackets on board, we head south to the Granite Belt following a winding road past giant granite boulders to a food-lovers paradise, The Bramble Patch, located in the hills above Glen Aplin. Our taste buds are treated to spicy and sweet sensations thanks to their huge range of relishes, pastes and jams. Guests can also choose from a delicious selection of desserts including waffles, poffertjes, sundaes and freshly made ice creams, to be enjoyed indoors next to the log fire during winter or outside in the manicured gardens during the warmer months.

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    5th Aug 2017
    the apple pie is a must

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