Cross the NSW–Queensland border and you’ll be in southern Queensland country, a place the locals say is like being ‘lost in the moment’.
“It’s somewhere you and your family and friends can quickly forget about everything on the daily ‘to-do’ list”, says Southern Queensland Country Tourism.
“Here, you can savour crisp country air, award-winning wines and fresh seasonal produce; appreciate the spectacular natural wonders, the stories behind historic sandstone buildings, or a cheeky shiraz from the winery up the road.”
Shelley Winkel is the publicity manager for Tourism Queensland and one of our favourite people. She’s not secretive about her passion for Queensland and today shares her top tips for the very best southern Queensland country road trips.
Sure, a classy convertible with the roof down, the sun on your face and the wind in your hair would enhance the experience, but you don’t need to own a flash set of wheels to enjoy a drive through southern Queensland country. This region speaks for itself and quietly cajoles you to take a journey. Away from the maddening crowds, you’ll adore being able to swap the stop-start city traffic for open roads, rolling green hills, the odd cow or two and even a windmill. Ladies and gentlemen start your engines …
Fear not if you are the designated driver, for there’s plenty to enjoy along this route, even if you aren’t able to partake in the wine tasting. Starting at Nanango, at the southern end of the South Burnett, and winding north to Moffatdale, there are two parts to this journey, which touts itself as Queensland’s newest wine region. Drive to delicious-sounding wineries such as Barambah and Tipperary, where the names roll off the tongue as easily as the wine itself. In between, you’ll see the lush country for which this region is famous, and from which springs lavender, cheese products, olives and more.
This journey begins in Toowoomba and snakes all the way to Gympie, but it’s the Bunya Mountains that are the highlight of this trip. Sure, you’ll love Oakey, Jondaryan, Jimbour and Bell, small country Queensland towns brimming with charm and characters, but once you head up the hills to the Bunyas themselves, you’ll discover an emerald forest of beautiful pine trees, rainforests, waterfalls, walks and lookouts. On the other side of this range, drive through equally charming country spots such as Maidenwell, Nanango, Kingaroy, Goomeri, Kilkivan and on to Gympie.
It sits so tantalisingly close to the New South Wales border, parallel in fact, that it’s almost like it’s taunting the southerners. But Queensland can claim Spring Creek Mountain Road, in scenic Killarney, all their own. Peppered with the odd cottage and café, the true highlight along this route are the spectacular Queen Mary Falls, with some fabulous lookouts over gushing water and some lovely walks as well.
Every now and then you discover a place that is so appropriately named, there can be no confusion. No surprises then, that Condamine Gorge 14 River Crossings boasts 14 river crossings. This is rugged, four-wheel-drive country, located in Killarney, where you can test your skills and what your vehicle is really made of. After all, it’s not just made for inner-city school pick-ups now, is it?
Queensland’s Granite Belt is firmly fixed in the vernacular as one of the country’s leading wine regions, but for those looking for a twist on their chardonnay or shiraz, there’s a route that offers some of the more obscure drops, such as your tempranillos, mouvedres and voigners. A total of 21 wineries participate in the Strange Bird experience and are well worth discovering. After all, when was the last time you enjoyed a gewurtztraminer or barbera?
Just like its country cousin, the Strange Bird, the Granite Belt’s Nude Food Trail is another self-drive experience where you can learn more about regional produce. And the best part, you don’t even have to get naked to enjoy this journey. Just take your time, drive to designated producers, and delight in the scenery and the fruits of local labour such as wild things; fresh produce; local meats; savoury staples; and sweet moments.
Have you visited southern Queensland country? Or are you a local? Which spots would you recommend to our members?