The Roadtrip Series: embrace the change of seasons with a cosy Granite Belt sojourn
As much as we love Brisbane, the city doesn’t really cop much seasonal variation. Sure, we’re finally getting a reprieve from the blistering summer, but our winters are mild at best. While it’s nice to be able to get around in shorts for most of the year, some of us long for the chance to rug up by a crackling fire with a glass of red and a hearty feast. There is no better time than now to plan your southern escape to the Granite Belt, where rolling hills and cool-climate vineyards will lure you in and have you wanting to stay. The Roadtrip Series is here to hook you up with a cheat sheet of the best places to chow down, play up and rest your bones in the Granite Belt region.
So let’s cut to the chase – the Granite Belt is some bona fide wine country. Thanks to its blessedly cooler climate, the grapes can thrive and survive to create delicious drops. Fussy palates best pay a visit to Jester Hill Winery in Glen Alpin, where owner-operators Michael and Ann Burke truly believe there is a wine out there for everyone. The cellar door, landscape and terraced gardens host regular tastings and events, adding to the lively atmosphere. Twisted Gum in Ballandean takes a smaller-scale approach – making its home in an old wraparound Queenslander, the crew craft small quantities of premium quality single vineyard wines from their hand-tended dry grown vineyard.
The natural life
The Granite Belt sure is a show-off when it comes to natural beauty. Boasting some of the most scenic vistas this side of the Great Dividing Range, one of the must-do destinations for sightseeing is the Girraween National Park. Straddling the Queensland and New South Wales state line, this massive natural phenomenon features granite outcrops, large angular tors (that’s rock formations for us layfolk), and precariously balanced boulders that create serious Stonehenge vibes. You can get your hike on with more than 17 kilometres of walking trails available, plus there’s plenty of pretty wildlife to look out for. If the park poaches your heart, you can plan to stay overnight at the Girraween Environmental Lodge. How’s the serenity?
No trip to the country would be complete without getting in touch with your inner cowboy. The Kent Saddlery in Stanthorpe is a treasure trove of handmade leather goodness, specialising in equipment for horseriding. The family owned and operated business offers up everything you could possibly need to kit out your equine friend, as well as loads of stock for camping and outdoor activities. If you’re keen to see how the magic happens, Kent Saddlery also offers tours of the leather workshop where goods are made on-site. It doesn’t get much more authentically country than this.
Raise your glass
Not a fan of wine time? Never fear, the Granite Belt Brewery is here! Located in Stanthorpe, you can experience fresh beer on tap straight from the source at this cool venue. Kick up your feet in the viewing lounge to watching the brewing process unfold, or take a tour with a friendly brewer to learn the ins and outs of operations. There are six beers on offer, so a tasting paddle is a sure way to try everything – pair this with a delicious meal from the kitchen and let the good times roll. The Brass Monkey Brew House is another worthy pit-stop for lovers of beer, boasting an award-winning range of the good stuff that is brewed and bottled on site.
In a jam
If your friends are the kind that hassle you for souvenirs, we have just the thing to benefit you both. A trip to Jamworks will provide you with preserves for days, selecting only the freshest and best quality ingredients from the region to make the tasty stuff. Take home jams, relish, butters, pickles and pretty much anything else you can think of, and be sure to stop by the larder for an in-house bite to eat.
Feast of plenty
The Granite Belt is teeming with venues that really take advantage of the region’s abundance of delicious fresh produce. The McGregor Terrace Food Project is helmed by chef Ben Lanyon and his wife Lou, using locally sourced ingredients in the modern Australian bistro-style menu – some of the fare even comes from their own garden! The Barrelroom and Larder really takes the paddock to plate ethos seriously, as in if you can’t find it within three hours of the kitchen you won’t find it on the menu. Now that’s fresh! At Varias Restaurant, you will find a delicious seasonal menu and the famous Medley of Mains, an all-inclusive option featuring portions from three main dishes with matched wines, dessert and port.
If you want to truly immerse yourself in the Granite Belt experience, the best way to see it all is on two wheels. Granite Belt Bicycle Tours & Hire offer leisure cycling all through the region, with both guided and self-paced options available depending on what you’re after. Take in wineries, providores, cafes and stunning views, stopping as you wish. Making it even easier, the crew can deliver bikes to your door and even pick you up if you’ve tuckered yourself out for the day.
Stop and stay
The Granite Belt is a big place, so it would be wise to plan some accommodation in order to max out your trip. The self-contained deluxe villas at 31 The Rocks in Stanthorpe are perfect for those who like a little bit of privacy, and Severnlea’s Ridgemill Estate has luxurious studio cabins on offer amongst lush vineyards. If you’re keen to get your glamp on, look no further than Alure Boutique – these romantic tents and villas boast breathtaking views and tranquil vibes (plus heated outdoor spas that are perfect for stargazing).
The Roadtrip Series is a collaboration between The Weekend Edition and Southern Queensland Country.