48 Hours: Food, fun and 4WDing in Killarney
As a child of the digital age, I’d choose to have my technology administered intravenously if I could. So taking an annual digital detox – this time to Killarney – is the perfect tonic to sever my screen dependence.
If you’ve only got a weekend to spare, here are my tips on how to make the most of the rolling hills and lavender fields of Killarney and the surrounding Southern Queensland Country.
10am: Hit the road, Jack
If you start in Brisbane, you’ll be in Killarney in a smidge over two hours. There seems to be a correlation between kilometres and cows in this part of Queensland, so you’ll know you are close when you’ve encountered more cows than odometer ticks.
12 noon: A lovely lavender encounter
Kooroomba Lavender Farm & Vineyard is a restaurant, cellar door and gift shop at Mt Alford, about 65 minutes from Brisbane. Overlooking rolling hills, vineyards and lavender bushes I find myself eating my way through a menu that puts the surrounding paddock on the plate. Lavender, not surprisingly, also seamlessly weaves its way onto menu items and their lavender ice-cream is hands down the best dessert I’ve had all year.
2pm: Check into the clouds
Completely stuffed from a three-course lunch with matching wines, I’m pleased I can work off my food coma at Spring Creek Mountain Cottages & Cafe. The property is the realisation of owner Bev Ruskey’s dream to build a place to eat, stay and share her uninterrupted views of Condamine Gorge, Wilson’s Peak and Border Ranges with the rest of the world.
Perched 1000 kilometres above sea level, there’s absolutely no internet or phone reception and I’m forced to sever my screen dependence. It’s something I’m not that upset about. After a few hours of tech-free rest and relaxation I realise I’ve worked up an appetite for dinner.
6.30pm: Meet the meat
What better way to get to know the region than to taste-test the local produce. The obvious starting point is Bev’s fabled beef and shiraz pie – a pie so loved by locals that she isn’t allowed take it off the menu. It’s pie-fection with its creamy gravy, slow-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth Killarney beef and buttery pastry. Washed down with a few glasses of the Symphony Hill Tempranillo (from the Granite Belt), I know I’ll sleep soundly tonight.
8.30am: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?
Then I would be happy to eat at the Spring Creek Mountain Café for the rest of my life. Breakfast here starts with fresh fruit compote, followed by freshly baked croissants with homemade jams (fig, apricot and strawberry) and a hot breakfast selection. The coffee is good, but the baked herb ricotta with oven roasted tomatoes and bacon is even better.
10am: Going bush
If you’re eager to put some dirt under your wheels, Louise Brosnan from Cambanoora Co is the girl to help you do it. From bumping around on 4WD tracks in the Condamine Gorge to the head of the Condamine River (part of the Murray Darling system) to hand-picking potatoes with local farmer Mal Smith, Louise has packaged up the best of her Forest and Farm tour for me today.
I’ve visited the Lord of the Rings Elm forest in New Zealand and the Muir Woods in San Francisco so when she told me about the 1500 year-old Rosewood Trees on Mal’s farm I was giddy with excitement to see these leafy legends. Standing in their imposing presence I couldn’t help thinking this has to be one of the best kept secrets in the country.
We finish the tour digging up some of Mal’s famous Sebago spuds and he wastes no time telling me how to cook them. You have to trust a third generation potato farmer – so I waste no time in asking Bev to roast them for dinner.
10am: Get into Gondwana
After excessive eating, a bum-burning hike through the Main Range National Park is on the menu. I’ve laced up my boots for a two-kilometre circuit through Queen Mary Falls which winds from the top of the cliffs down to creek level. At the end of the hike, The Falls Café at the Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park is the perfect spot to recharge the batteries with something sweet from their cabinet.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and I’m naturally apprehensive about returning to the big smoke after a weekend breathing in the country air. I realise this won’t be the last time I dust off my winter woollies and make the trek back to Killarney… even if it’s just for round two with Bev’s beef pie.