How to eat your way around the Scenic Rim in four days
Calling fellow experiential diners – you need to hear this!
We know a foodie’s paradise that’s been 30 million years in the making and you’ll find it an hour south-west of Brisbane.
Introducing the Scenic Rim, where there’s an endless buffet of fresh produce served on the edge of an ancient volcanic rim.
Producing more things to tickle your taste buds than you’d find in a MasterChef mystery box, the Scenic Rim will surprise you with its speciality seafood, award-winning cheese and world-class fruit.
Cut down the food miles between the Scenic Rim’s paddocks and your dinner plate by digging into this four-day itinerary.
12PM (lunch): Drive from Brisbane to Spicers Hidden Vale
If Brisbane has a best-kept secret, Spicers Hidden Vale is it.
Set on 12,000 acres of working farmland in the Lockyer Valley region, it’s best described as a restaurant with a hotel attached, rather than a hotel with a restaurant attached.
Head chef, Ash Martin, makes paddock to plate look positively perfect, incorporating products from the local area, like free-range pigs, local red claw yabby (see them later in this itinerary!) and herbs from the market garden onsite.
The dining experience is so good it’s been awarded one chef hat in both the 2016 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide awards and the 2015 Australian Good Food and Travel Guide Chef Hat awards, with two and three-course options available at lunch time.
2:30PM (afternoon tea): Visit the Red Claw Farm
Driving between Hidden Vale and Tarome, you’ll start to see why this area is so keen to celebrate its farmers – they are a primary industry, making the most of this lush, volcanic territory.
Stop into Freshwater Australian Crayfish Traders (FACT) to see their 80-hectare property, packed with over 70 freshwater dams, which house some of Australia’s best crayfish.
It’s not just us who thinks their red claw is delicious, this local trader sells up to a million red claw crayfish each year as well as a range of other freshwater aquatic fish and shrimps to buyers all over the country.
If you’re following this itinerary to a tee, you might not have anywhere to store them, but those coming out for just a day trip should pack an esky for takeaway crays at a great price.
5:30PM (aperitivo into dinner): Check into sheer luxury, Spicers Peak Lodge
The twists and turns you have to drive to make it to the top of Spicers Peak Lodge are well worth it when you see what lies before you at the top – 10,000 acres overlooking the World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park and the Great Dividing Range.
Just as with Hidden Vale, this property’s focus is equally divided between sating appetites and its accommodation offering. Being Australia’s highest non-alpine luxury property is just one of Spicers Peak Lodge’s claims to fame. Foodies take note, The Peak was awarded two chef hats in the 2016 and 2017 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide awards.
When staying the night, all meals and beverages, including the celebrated degustation dinner menu, are included in the price tag.
8AM (brekkie): Don’t move far for breakfast
If there’s one takeaway from this itinerary it’s that you don’t skip breakfast at Spicers Peak Lodge.
The breakfast game is strong here and they even dress avocado on toast up in fancy terms (read: goats curd, sumac and some other ingredients you may need a dictionary to translate).
Dig into delicacies like the “Pork on Peak”, a sumptuous combination of pulled pork, black pudding, white bean puree, pickled carrot and a poached egg to start your day on the right… well, trotter.
11AM (elevensies): Get your 2:5 fruit and veggies
If Bugs Bunny was in the area, he’d make a beeline for Kalfresh Vegetables, Queensland’s largest supplier of carrots.
Operating at their Kalbar base since 1992, stop in to see where most of Australia’s carrots, onions, green beans and pumpkin start life as little seedlings in the ground. You’ll need to check their Facebook page to time your visit with their farm open days, which coincide with the region’s annual foodie fiesta, Eat Local Week.
Every year, Kalfresh also host a Carrot Day to share how they grow, pick, wash and pack carrots.
Aside from observing produce and packing, you’ll also see one of Queensland’s most unusual creations – carrot beer – which was brewed up after a local craft beer maker teamed up with the farm to promote their produce. Made with 16 per cent carrot juice, surely this has to be the most healthy beer, at least, on this list.
12PM (just a taste sensation): Fassifern Valley Produce
Heirloom tomatoes never looked so good as the ones that come out of Fassifern Valley Produce.
With colours befitting of such exotic names, brace your taste buds for flavour bursts from their Green Zebra, Tigerella, Ida Gold, Black Cherry and the Mortgage Lifter – a tomato named by its grower in recognition that this ruby red fruit was his ticket to a debt-free life.
Bring a bag and stock up like other motorists at their roadside stall on Boonah-Fassifern Rd, which is responsible for turning over more than a tonne of fresh tomatoes each week.
1PM (lunch): Kooroomba Vineyard & Lavender Farm
Let someone else do the hunting and gathering and dig into a scrumptious lunch prepared by the chefs at Kooroomba Vineyard & Lavender Farm. The team here make sure seasonal vegetables are the hero of the menu.
You’ll also find a cellar door and lavender shop here, overlooking six acres of vineyards, fields of lavender and views over the Scenic Rim Mountains.
2PM (palette cleanser): Stop in at Boonah for Gelato
You might not expect some of the best gelato this side of Rome to be served out of a cute cafe in Boonah, but it is. Introducing Naughty Little Kids Gelato, which takes a twist on the traditional gelato recipe using goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk.
To date, they serve five classic flavours including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint and coffee. And the good news for dairy haters, being based on goat milk, the gelato is lactose friendly (not lactose-free) allowing many sensitive stomachs to enjoy ice-cream without any side effects.
2PM (pre drinks): Yes way, rosé
Entire blog posts could be written about rosé – the lovable grape combination that merges the crispness of a white with the body of a red and goes down as smooth as a bubbly. If you feel the same way about rosé, make tracks to Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard for their award-winning pink drop.
Here, wine tastings are conducted in a very relaxed and informal manner, and its the kind of place where you can bring your own food, which is great news for fellow hunters and gatherers who have been picking up items along the way.
Did someone say rosé and Caprese salad picnic with your favourite Fassifern fresh tomatoes? You’ll find plenty of recipe ideas in the Eat Local Week cookbook if you’re stumped for ideas.
5PM (happy hour): Enjoy one last cold one before retreating for the night
This small family-owned, Scenic Rim Brewery & Cafe takes advantage of the fresh air, clear water and natural ingredients in abundance here.
With the cafe located in the middle of the brewery factory floor, there are no food miles between the brew and your belly. Wrap your lips around a Digga, Shazza or Fat Man at this establishment.
Overnight: Ketchups Bank Glamping
You’ve got to love a destination where even the accommodation sounds like something to eat! Enter, Ketchups Bank Glamping accommodation near Boonah.
You’re promised unparalleled mountain views and a cosy setting to kick back for an evening in a rugged Australian bush setting.
Day (graze): Dedicate a day to cheese
What if we told you there is a cheese so rich in proteins, Vitamins A, B, D & E and calcium that it’s actually a health food (eds note: in moderation).
Oh yes, this sheep cheese is the real deal and Towri Sheep Cheeses, just outside of Beaudesert, won’t just let you experience it, they’ll teach you how to make it too!
Join Towri Sheep Cheeses for Cheese School every second Wednesday for the ‘art of cheese-making’. With 350 sheep on site, there’s no shortage of supplies to make hard and soft varieties.
We promise you won’t go home hungry with morning tea, light refreshments and lunch all a part of the package.
3PM (wine o’clock): Follow the mountains to Tamborine
Follow the ridge line of this ancient landscape towards the coast until you reach Tamborine Mountain.
Time your route to catch the cellar door at Witches Falls Winery, which closes between 4-5pm depending on what day you’re visiting.
The team at Witches Falls know wines are made to be shared. And pairing them with food? This is the ultimate cellar door experience.
Get to know their signature drops with a tasting paddle – a flight of wines will leave you with plenty of change from a $10 note.
Overnight: Witches Falls Cottages
There’s something to be said for staying within arms reach of a winery, and Witches Falls Cottages is just that – all about location, location, location as well as a secluded environment for couples.
You’ll also be at jumping off point to discover Witches Falls section of Tamborine National Park, the oldest national park in Queensland.
Day (hunt and gather): Stock your pantry before returning to Brisbane
Make today about stocking up on local supplies before leaving the Scenic Rim. While most suppliers don’t have their own farm gate, they use the bricks and mortar of cafes, restaurants and boutique shops to sell their wares.
In particular, pick up these grocery essentials that you may have missed on this itinerary:
Scenic Rim Olives –
Olive lovers are in luck – the Scenic Rim even has its own olive company up here. You’ll find their olives in brine, olive oil, tapenade and dukkah at various stockists around the region, taking care of your salty fix.
Dewar Honey – Making the Scenic Rim all the more sweet, Dewar Honey is the work of a third-generation beekeeper, Robert Dewer. Although Capilano uses most of their stock, keep an eye out for jars of their liquid amber around the Scenic Rim.
Monsour Garlic – Warding off vampires this side of the Gondwana Rainforest, Joseph and Joanne Monsour’s Roadvale garlic business is now one of only 30 Australian garlic growers in Australia.
What started as just a veggie patch in the back garden, has become a serious growing operation, with stockists around Australia. You’ll find their produce around the Scenic Rim, but it can sell out, so be sure to stock up!
Tamborine Mountain Free Range Eggs –
These chickens are so special, they have their own guard dog – Luna the Maremma – who keeps them free from predators on their 80-acre free range farm. Keep your eyes peeled for these special eggs by the dozen and half dozen at various stockists in town.
4Real Milk – If you’re enjoying a cup of coffee in this neck of the woods, chances are, it’s made with 4Real Milk. A pasteurised, non-homogenised full cream milk. If time allows in this itinerary, take a “Robotic Dairy” 4Real Milk Tour to watch cows milked by actual robots.
The Lime Caviar Company –
This funny-looking fruit is starting to make a splash internationally, and the Scenic Rim just happens to be home to Australia’s premier grower of native finger limes, The Lime Caviar Company.
Ian and Margie Douglas have been growing the finger-like fruit for more than ten years, after turning to farming after 46 years in the legal profession. They pick-to-order and supply both Australian and International fine dining markets with this oblong-shaped fruit, packed with little spherical bursts of flavour.