If you like food, wine, history and heritage trails and national parks, the Granite Belt should be on your weekend getaway list. Located less than three hours from Brisbane and experiencing all four seasons, the Granite Belt is the perfect country getaway any time of the year.
From Brisbane, head west towards Warwick. On the way, take a short detour through Ipswich, Queensland’s oldest provincial city. Allow time for a heritage walking tour to see graceful colonial homes, historic churches and sandstone buildings and browse antique shops and craft cottages along the heritage trails in the surrounding area.
Continue on from Ipswich to Aratula on the Cunningham Highway and stop for the best home-made scones fresh from the oven at the roadside café before continuing over the mountain range to Warwick. Stop at the lookout at Cunningham's Gap for a short rainforest walk.
Stay at Abbey of the Roses (8 Locke Street), originally built in 1891 as a convent and now a heritage-listed guest house at Warwick.
Eat breakfast at Bluebird Kitchen (130 Palmerin Street, Warwick) and take a self-guided walking tour of the town, following the Fitness Walks of Warwick map, available from the local Visitor Information Centre.
Then drive south to Stanthorpe in the heart of the Granite Belt, Queensland’s premier wine region, boasting more than 45 wineries. It’s also prime fruit growing country for apples, berries and stone fruit such as peaches, apricots and nectarines.
Visit Sutton’s apple farm and café where David and Roslyn Sutton make juice, cider, brandy and lemoncello from the fruit grown on their property at Thulimbah.
Next stop is Summit Estate winery, also at Thulimbah and one of a handful of wineries in the region that have been given a five star rating by wine critics.
Stay the Diamondvale Cottages for some traditional country hospitality following an afternoon of wine-tasting.
After breakfast drive to Girraween National Park, about 30 minutes away, to start the day with an energising walk and see dramatic granite boulders amidst the forest. There are 30km of walking trails so it’s easy to spend a whole day here but after a couple of hours you’ll feel like lunch, so that’s a good excuse to head back to Ballandean Estate winery, where the Puglisi family has been making wines since the 1930s.
Eat at the award-winning Barrelroom restaurant which serves a menu of dishes made from local produce sourced within a strict three hour radius of the restaurant.
After lunch allow time for a visit to Golden Grove Estate winery, also at Ballandean.
Enjoy another breakfast at Diamondvale Cottages before plotting a wine trail that includes another five-star winery, Symphony Hill Wines at Ballandean, and get a taste of craft beer brews at Ernie Butler’s Brass Monkey Brewhouse (south of Stanthorpe at Severnlea).
Allow time for a leisurely drive back to Brisbane via Killarney and the Falls Drive. There’s a string of waterfalls to visit, from Browns Falls and its adventure track to Queen Mary Falls, about 10km from Killarney. It’s a 400-metre walk along an easy track to the lookout to view falls’ impressive 40-metre drop over the cliffside.
The next stop should be Carr’s Lookout for a panoramic view of the Scenic Rim but stop at the Spring Creek Café and Cottages to admire the view from the deck while
enjoying lunch or a morning or afternoon tea and devouring the most delicious scones while admiring the view over the mountain ranges and Condamine Gorge. Wander over to the lookout before continuing on the road to Boonah, Aratula and the main roads back to Brisbane.
Stanthorpe is approximately 217km drive south west of Brisbane via the Cunningham Highway.