Quirky accommodation in Southern Queensland Country
“Let’s drive to the country to stay in a one-size-fits-all, chain hotel,” said no one ever.
For years, wannabe winemakers, artists and burned-out corporates have been heading to the hills for a tree-change in Southern Queensland Country, and it’s no surprise the offspring of all that energy is some seriously cool, left-of-centre accommodation options.
Within 90 minutes’ drive of Brisbane you’ll arrive in the land of B&Bs, winery cottages, and downright wacky places to lay your head, where niche interests prevail (stargazing, anyone?) and soul-less hotel decor is strictly off limits.
Here are 7 of the quirkiest accommodation options to be found in Southern Queensland Country.
1. The Cottage at Twisted Gum Wines, Ballandean
Okay, so it’s more cute than quirky, but the 1920s guest cottage at Twisted Gum Wines comes with a hearty dose of Australiana thanks to the Hills Hoist out back and adorable Gus, the border collie-cross-kelpie, keeping watch at the front door.
Much of the three-bedroom home has been kept in its original condition, resurrected with care by owners Michelle and Tim, though all the mod cons have been provided for a comfortable stay. Think: Super comfy beds, a fully-stocked kitchen and plenty of books and board games.
Sleeping amongst the vines of a single-vineyard winery in Ballandean has its obvious perks, but it’s the tranquil outlook and beautiful homely feel of this cottage that will win you over long after the last drop of vino has been poured.
Visit in February for the chance to get hands-on when the picking season is in full swing. And while you can easily self-cater during your stay, a short amble down the driveway will place you at the Hidden Creek Vineyard Cafe for lunch overlooking the vines.
2. Twinstar Guesthouse & Observatory, Ballandean
Japanese astronomy enthusiasts Eiji and Naomi were growing tired of schlepping it from their home on the Gold Coast to Maidenwell to get their stargazing fix every weekend, so they decided to build their own observatory in the backyard of Twinstar Guesthouse & Observatory in Ballandean instead.
Now guests can sleep in comfort in one of the three bedsit rooms and join in the nightly sky tour, looking through their gigantic 46cm reflector telescope. Star-trail chasers are encouraged to set up their photography equipment in the backyard for the perfect time-lapse frame and two large binocular telescopes are also available for guests to use.
If you have an all-night stargazing bender, you can rest assured your continental breakfast will be waiting for you in your room when you wake. If you feel like some home cooking at night during your stay, Naomi will whip you up a bento or teriyaki fish.
3. Alure glamping tent, Stanthorpe
Sure, ‘glamping’ might be the biggest buzzword to hit the camping industry since drop-toilets, but a short 10-minute drive out of Stanthorpe‘s main street you’ll find the Ritz of glamping tents.
Alure Boutique Villas‘ tent accommodation provides more creature comforts than the average person’s home, so while you’re listening to the gentle flap of the canvas tent in the breeze, you can simultaneously be sitting in front of the fire, chandelier on above you, kicking back watching a DVD after a relaxing soak in the heated jacuzzi.
Then, after a hot shower (with L’Occitane products on tap), you can nuzzle into your four-poster bed and awake the next day to hot croissants, homemade granola, yoghurt, local berry compote and juice, and freshly-baked bread.
Well, we didn’t say anything about roughing it.
4. Train carriage at Harrington Glen Wines, Stanthorpe
There’s something to be said for making decisions on a whim, and it was with barely a second thought that the owners of Harrington Glen came to transport an out-of-service train all the way from Melbourne to the Granite Belt.
Harrington Glen Train House is right up there when it comes to weird and wacky; a three-bedroom house built around the silver train carriages that are currently being updated and will rent as separate one-bedroom units or in its entirety.
As well as providing gorgeous views over the vineyard, a short amble down to the cellar door will give you the opportunity to sip and swill your way through the winery’s top drops.
5. Diamondvale B&B Cottages, Stanthorpe
The gorgeous cluster of cottages and main lodge of Diamondvale B&B – sitting pretty along the banks of Quart Pot Creek just three minutes outside Stanthorpe – has country charm and hospitality in spades.
Opt for a romantic getaway in one of their one-bedroom cottages, a family escape in a two-bedroom cottage, a celebration with friends in the lodge, or hire the entire property for up to 20 guests.
The marshmallow on the stick is the Pioneer Hut, where you can sit around an open fire beside the creek, and truly get into the spirit with bocce, darts, BBQ and music on hand.
6. The Woolshed at Jondaryan
Country escapes don’t get much better than the Woolshed at Jondaryan. Set on the acreage of Australia’s oldest and largest sheep station, you can expect an authentic true blue bush experience coupled with a healthy dose of the great outdoors.
Turn back the clock when you bunker down in the original Shearer’s Quarters that housed the station’s workers back in the 1800s. Stepping into these dormitorystyle rooms really is like travelling back to a simpler time, when all you needed for a decent night’s sleep was a comfy bed and a roof over your head (don’t fret, you can still charge your smartphone in the power points installed).
For a slightly modern twist, hit up their cosy rustic cabins that come with toiletries, a fridge and a classic wooden bedroom vanity. If you really can’t bear skipping on today’s luxuries, their self-contained cottages come decked out with a TV, aircon and en suite, while still holding true to that simple country charm.
Camping and caravaning is also permitted on the grounds.
A little taste of what else you can expect: a new cafe menu that is a melting pot of multicultural treats, fishing and kayaking down at the river, waking up to alpacas and horses out your window, self-guided museum tours featuring insanely adorable sheep, and in true Aussie style, billy tea and damper.
7. Quest Toowoomba
Rocking up to Quest Toowoomba can be a little puzzling. At first, you might think “heck, am I in the right place?” when you pull up to the churchlike building and notice the stained-glass windows and brick arches leading to the entrance.
But alas, your GPS was in fact right (for once), because the reception of this renowned hotel has been thoughtfully built inside a church.
After being purchased by local businesses in 1994, the former Church of Christ was redeveloped and integrated into the new hotel in the heart (and main street) of Toowoomba.