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| BNE May/June 2016





A short break to the Southern Downs

is a great escape to the country if you

take it slow, writes

Heather McWhinnie


n a country drive toWarwick

recently I learned a few things. To

look skyward, for example (more

unusual now we are so techno-focused). The sky

aboveWarwick really can look stunning. I admit it

didn’t look quite like the one pictured above when I

cycled along that same path on my weekend there –

but it


when local photographer Chris McFerran

took that shot, no photoshopping required.

Of course, it takes some effort to be in the right

place at the right time andMcFerran has learnt to

read the signs of the brilliant cloud formations as

they roll in, but the rest of us just might get lucky.

You see, the sky really is different outWarwick way

(something to do with the vast plains), so much so

that it’s a hot spot for storm chasers –McFerran is

a veteran and has the shots to prove it. Sunsets are

another popular shot and a staple inMcFerran’s

collection (see more online at

SeQldWeatherPhotography). He did give me one

tip to take away. “Don’t give up after the sun’s gone

down. Most people think it’s too late for a good shot

then but just wait for that moment the sun has set

and there can be a beautiful afterglow,” he says.

Another thing I learned even before I arrived in

Warwick was that I needed much more than the

two hours I’d estimated to get there and properly

enjoy the journey, there are so many stops to explore

on the way, from villages dotted with curio shops to

a random little heritage cottage on the side of the

road with a sign outside welcoming visitors inside,

and the best scones ever, baked fresh by Fay and

her helpers at the Aratula café.

When I finally arrived in front of the charming

Guy House it was just as its pictures promise – a

character B&B in a quiet street, just a block from

the city centre. I just had time for a walk before

happy hour back at the house with a glass of wine

and an antipasto tasting plate on the verandah.

There are five walks to choose from on a pocket

map in the welcome pack Larraine gave me so

I chose the CBD walk; it’s easy, flat, a circuit of

little more than 2km. (The next day I chose the

River Walk circuit to cycle on that path pictured

above and on a route from Abbey of the Roses and

back, also mostly flat and avoiding the main streets

through town.)

Guy House is opposite Leslie Park and the

century old Slade Gates – standing majestically on

one corner of the open park, but keeping nothing

or no one in or out – is the first point of interest on

the map. The local story is that they came from the

historic Glengallan homestead, a landmark nearby

on the New England Highway that fell derelict

soon after. It stayed that way for decades until a

local trust was formed to rescue it. Now, the story

goes, they want the gates back but the council is

not about to move them again.

There are 15 sites marked on the CBD walk

that offer a brief snapshot of one of the oldest

cities in Queensland, from the old church hall that

was the first St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church

built in 1865 (and now overshadowed by the

new church that towers over it built in 1926), to

the Thomas Byrnes monument, a statue of the

first Queensland-born Premier that stands at the

junction of Palmerin and Grafton Streets.

Of course, he’s not the only famous

Queenslander from these parts. Arthur Morgan

and Anna Bligh also became Premiers and Duncan

Thompson was a much lauded rugby league player

and coach before Wayne Bennett left Warwick for

a stellar career. Other ‘notables’ include a couple of

Olympic hockey players and filmmaker Charles

Chauvel on a list of sportsmen, politicians, judges,

performers and others who have found success

since leavingWarwick.

More recently, though, a younger generation

has come back toWarwick, giving it a new lease

on life – for the benefit of locals and visitors. Mark

Favero and his wife grew up in the area and came

back to raise their family inWarwick. For the last

four years Mark has been running the Belle Vue

café (119 Palmerin Street) which has been an

institution in the city for almost 100 years.

The building is still owned by the family who

first operated the café and furniture and some

fittings, including the milk shake machine, are

originals from its last great refurb in the 1950s.

Mark’s biggest challenge today is to find replicas in

First Frost, photography by Chris McFerran