The Roadtrip Series: surrender to the hidden charms of the South Burnett
When was the last time you looked up and saw a night sky full of crisp and clear constellations? How about the last time you breathed in fresh country air or shared a smile with a stranger? This may sound like a pipe dream of days gone by, but it’s closer than you think. The South Burnett is a treasure trail of Southern Queensland towns that is ripe for your exploring – handshakes, hidden charms and good old-fashioned home-style hospitality are just some of the reasons to make it your next getaway destination. The Roadtrip Series is here to help you uncover the magic of the South Burnett, hooking you up with the best places to eat, play and stay in the area.
All about experience
First thing’s first – the South Burnett is full of natural wonders and experiences that will give you a true taste of what the region is all about. To see as much as you can in an orderly fashion with a side of history to boot, your best bet is the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail – the trail follows scenic disused rail lines and can be followed on bike, horseback or foot. An absolute must-do is a visit to the Bunya Mountains National Park, a spectacular subtropical paradise teeming with native wildlife and breathtaking views. For more natural splendour, head to Coomba Falls at Maidenwell – take the plunge and go for a dip in the fresh waters of the natural swimming hole surrounded by stunning granite cliffs. For a dose of culture, Wondai Regional Art Gallery is bound to surprise and impress in equal measure – new exhibitions open on the first Friday of every month.
Fancy a fine local drop? Due to its cooler temperature, the South Burnett is able to sustain several amazing wineries that create primo vino. Operating on a “from berry to bottle” ethos, the family owned and operated Kingsley Grove Winery turns out traditional wines as well as innovative styles, and the cellar door is open seven days a week for tastings. Born out of a love of wine and a family agricultural history in the region, Clovely Estate is an award-winning winery producing consistently good vintages. This boutique operation became a James Halliday five-star winery in 2015, cementing its status as a leader in Australia’s wine scene.
Ridgey-didge pubs can be darn hard to come by, especially if you’re living the city life. Two of the South Burnett’s best pubs are as legit as they come, epitomising the country spirit that the region is famous for. The Kingaroy Hotel Motel is a legendary local institution that serves up generous portions of delicious meals from an impressive variety of options for the more discerning diner. There are also three separate bars for thirsty patrons to enjoy, plus live tunes on Friday nights. Kicking it super old school is the Maidenwell Hotel, dishing up hearty pub grub seven days a week. The building is more than 100 years old and loaded with charm – venture inside for a cold beer, pub yarns and tall tales.
To market, to market
The country really turns out the goods when it comes to markets, and the abundance of unique offerings in the South Burnett is a testament to this. You can catch the Bunya Mountains Markets on the last Sunday of every month, where more than 30 vendors sell their handmade and local wares. The first Saturday of the month sees the Nanango Country Markets take over the Nanango Showgrounds, staking a claim as South East Queensland’s largest rural market. You can head to Wondai Country Markets on the fourth Saturday of the month to do some bargain hunting and pick up freshly picked local produce. In a jam? Make time to visit the Makers, Bakers and Growers Markets in Kingaroy for a killer selection of locally made preserves, fresh produce and pickles – these are held every Thursday.
Exploring one of Queensland’s most stunning and diverse regions is sure to work up an appetite, so it’s a good thing we have the inside scoop on the best spots to chow down. The Bunyanut Cafe is an enchanting meeting spot with delicious home-style eats that doubles as the Scrubby Creek Bar to keep the good times rolling into the evening. Anyone craving some nutritious eats and treats best make The Giving Tree Cafe a top priority – everything here is totally vegan and it tastes so good that even the most die-hard carnivores and lactose lovers will be amazed. Out in Coolabunia you will find the Whipbird Cafe, a local favourite serving up fresh, hearty fare with unbeatable atmosphere to match. For a real slice of country cute, check out Magpies Cafe – the whole menu is great but the pies here are unbelievable.
Stay a spell
As always tends to be the way with our Roadtrip Series, there is more to do in the South Burnett than can possibly be crammed into a single day – make the most of your time in the region by planning to stay! The serenity of Wiikirri Retreat is a must for any weary travellers who want to unwind and get back in touch with nature, and the ever-charming Bethany Cottages in Kingaroy are the perfect choice for modern country town hospitality and comfort. If the mountains are your base, be sure to get in touch with the Bunya Mountains Accommodation Centre – the team here is the largest provider of holiday rental homes and chalets in the area, so they can cater to every group and budget you can imagine. For something a bit different, Deshons Retreat in Kingaroy is home to two self-contained boutique hideaways that are brimming with thoughtful touches.
Mark your calendar
Although there is plenty of goodness going on in South Burnett all year long, there are a couple of special events that you would be wise to plan a trip around. Millennials and lovers of delicious breakfast items should definitely make time for the annual Blackbutt Avocado Festival, where the small rural Queensland town comes alive to celebrate all things to do with its most famous export. Another serious highlight on the calendar is South Burnett and Cherbourg on Show, running from September 30 to October 3 as a major festival for the region. Punters can expect everything from live music and art shows to outdoor adventures and dining experiences.
The Roadtrip Series is a collaboration between The Weekend Edition and Southern Queensland Country Tourism.