50 country weekend getaways from Brisbane
Planning. It’s the hardest part. You know you want to go to Southern Queensland Country be it for epic national parks, wineries or a country escape you’ve been craving for a long time.
But what’s your next play? Do you plan a road trip to tick several hikes off your bucket list or do you bunker down with a bottle of red and enjoy the serenity?
Or like that taco commercial many of us will never forget, why can’t you have both?
To help make planning less painstaking and more pleasurable, we’ve rounded up 50 ideas for your next sojourn in SQC.
1. Take a short walk and climb the prehistoric boulders that formed about 250 million years ago in Girraween National Park. If you have a moderate fitness level and are up for a climb, we recommend tackling The Pyramid for epic views and the chance to feel minuscule beside a gigantic balancing granite rock. If you’re more about soft adventure, check into Girraween Environmental Lodge and soak up the scenery from a hot tub.
2. Join the slow-food movement and explore the best seasonal produce the Granite Belt has to offer at your own pace with a self-drive trail or these local’s only food and wine tips. Leave your tight pants at home because food comas are guaranteed on this country weekend getaway!
3. You only have to look at the mountains to know Southern Queensland Country was once volcano territory. In Queensland, where there are dormant volcanoes, there are waterfalls, so it’s no surprise the waterfall-chasing is good here. Start by ticking off these top 10 waterholes. Spoiler Alert: Queen Mary Falls is worthy of a gold medal for its waterfall game and you can get there with this itinerary.
4. For a taste of Africa check out the Darling Downs Zoo, home to giraffes, zebras, meerkats and the only pride of African Lions in south-east Queensland. As if that’s not enough, they’re the only white lions living permanently in Queensland. While you’re in the Dalby-hood you might as well try ticking off the rest of this list.
5. Give the regular routine a shake-up and check into an authentic farm stay experience. We like Taabinga Homestead because it’s old-world beautiful (built in 1846) and Bestbrook Mountain Resort for a hands-on holiday. If you want to take your family to a farm these holidays, save driving across the country to find the perfect one – here’s our take on the best farm stays across the state.
6. Take a James Halliday-inspired jaunt to try the Granite Belt’s famous wineries. We promise you’ll expand your palate beyond Chardonnay and Shiraz with the Strange Bird Wine Trail where you’ll sipping like a local and spotting the difference between Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Tempranillo in no time.
7. If you like your produce organic, you’ve come to the right place – Southern Queensland Country is bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables that come straight from the tree. Check out the selection at Lancuba’s Fruit Mart in Applethorpe and Sam’s Farm Fresh Fruit and Veg in Cottonvale to stock up for your country weekend getaway.
8. Peek inside the village bank, school classroom, hotel and barbershop, for a true feeling of an Aussie country-town at the Miles Historical Museum.
9. Treat your taste buds to a delicious day of food and wine at the Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Harvest Festival – a biannual festival celebrating the best of what the Granite Belt grows.
10. Home to 25% of Australia’s watermelons, it stands to reason that Chinchilla has a festival to match its melon capital status. To celebrate all things watery and melon-y, do as the Chinchillians do and strap a watermelon helmet to your head and enter yourself in the watermelon skiing, pip spitting and melon-rolling competitions at the wacky Chinchilla Melon Festival. This biannual festival takes place every other February so save the date and make a country weekend getaway out of it with this guide.
11. In true celebration of the winter chill, head to Warwick as the locals rug up the town’s trees at the Jumpers and Jazz Festival in July. Bring your crochet hooks, knitting needles and get in on the act, or pass through while tackling one of these scenic drives.
12. Check out the chef hats on Spicers Peak Lodge, Australia’s highest non-alpine lodge. It’s a 10 out of 10 when it comes to romance factor, and duly named one of the best honeymoon spots in Queensland.
13. If you like singing and Shiraz, put them together and you’ve got Ballandean Estate’s Opera in the Vineyard. The festival attracts almost 2,000 people each year, not least of all because each type of ticket comes with a complimentary glass of vino. If you don’t time your visit for the event, it’s worth stopping by for lunch on a country weekend getaway – it gets our tick of approval as one of the best places to chew with a view.
14. Despite the fact each Australian eats 8.9kg of apples a year, there’s only one place in Queensland that specialises in the popular fruit – Stanthorpe. To eat apples a few different ways, pay a visit to Sutton’s Farm who turn the fruits of their 10,000 tree labour into pies, crumbles and award-winning ciders. To say you’ve really been there, done that, seen all the apples, make sure you grab a selfie with The Big Apple.
16. Have your own Man v. Food experience and tackle the road train burger at the Nindigully Pub, one of the most iconic pubs in Southern Queensland Country. Best to take a few friends with you to polish it off – the meat patty alone is 1.2kg!
18. Check out the Big Apple without the long haul flight with a visit to Stanthorpe‘s very own Big Apple. Reward your road-tripping efforts with one of Queensland’s best meat pies at Vincenzo’s, perfectly positioned under the Big Apple. Explore the town further with this 24-hour guide to the coldest town in Queensland.
19. Love a salty snack? Then head north to grab a bag of peanuts from the Peanut Van in Kingaroy, the peanut capital of Queensland. They’re the perfect sustenance for driving around this pretty region during your country weekend getaway. Make a weekend out of the home of peanuts with this 48-hour guide.
20. Tucked into the rolling hills of Ravensbourne you’ll find romantic country cottages like Cloudlake, and modern holiday homes and luxury studios at Ravensbourne Escape, perfect for families or celebrating with a group of friends. Relax in front of a cosy log fire in autumn and winter, explore forest trails in Ravensbourne National Park, chill out with a picnic under the giant figs at Gus Beutel Lookout, taste local produce at Emeraude Bistro or collect your own from local farm gates and cook up a storm!
23. Taste your way through many award-winning jams, coulis, fruit pastes, sauces, relish and pickles, all made on the premises at The Bramble Patch.
24. Book into a restaurant that puts the paddock on the plate during your country weekend getaway. At McGregor Terrace Food Project in Stanthorpe, Chef Ben Lanyon changes the menu weekly to showcase the seasonal harvest of the Granite Belt.
26. Step back in time at the Jondaryan Woolshed, the oldest and most original woolshed in Australia with over 150 years of wool history to brush up on. Pssst – like history? You’re going to love why this area ranks as one of the most historical in Queensland.
27. Don’t be the thorn amongst the roses in the Newtown Park State Rose Garden in Toowoomba with some 1500 roses planted, which come to life every spring in a flurry of colour and fragrance. Of course, if you’re really into flowers, here’s why you should be timing your visit for the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
30. Check out the nick-nacks at Highfields Pioneer Village. It’s home to large collections of 40,000 shells, antique radios and vintage machinery. Be sure to also check out its Blacksmith Shop and Boot Repair Shop.
32. Bauple gave us the Bauple nut, Brazil gave us the Brazil nut and the Bunya Mountains gave us the Bunya Nut. Isn’t it time you discovered one of our most famous nuts with this country weekend getaway itinerary?
33. Stay for a long weekend at one of these quirky accommodation options. Out-of-service rail carriage sleeper, anyone?
34. Channel your inner artist and scour the streets of Toowoomba to discover hidden laneways covered in street art. Not convinced? Take a look at some of the murals painted across the town thanks to the First Coast Festival.
35. Let the rolling hills of Killarney sweep you away from the hustle and bustle of the city with this 48-hour guide to this historic farming area.
36. If you’re looking for something handmade in the country, you’ve come to the right place. There are endless boutiques with treasures like one-of-a-kind jewellery, millinery, clothing, leatherwork, furniture and gifts, especially when you pay a visit to one of Crows Nest‘s antiques centres.
37. Lace those boots and set out on a hiking adventure following one of these nine trails.
38. For a fantastic display of florals check out the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, running each September in the aptly-named Garden City of Toowoomba. Check out what to do at the carnival during your country weekend getaway with this list and this guide.
39. Calling all keen anglers – Southern Queensland Country has a reputation for the best inland fishing with 15 dams and seven river systems. Pack a rod, roll out the boat and you could come home with bags of fish. Think Murray cod, Australian bass, sleepy cod, sooty grunter, yellowbelly, silver perch, saratoga, Barcoo grunter, jewfish and river blackfish.
40. Set out on a mission to find the gap in the Great Dividing Range. Cunningham’s Gap that is, on the north boundary of Main Range National Park. You can drive through it, but for the more adventurous, why not walk it? The Mount Mitchell track starts from the car park in the middle of the gap. Don’t think the hard work is already done, there’s 10.2km (return) of hiking to get to the summit. The reward? Panoramic views of this once volcanic territory.
41. Forget wandering through overpriced vintage markets and go to the belly of the beast – Crows Nest – home to the most exquisite antique stores.
42. Stay for a night for the chance to sit and stare at the stars. Out here, with limited light pollution, the stars shine brightly and create sparkling shows like this star trail.
43. Warwick is known as the rodeo and rose capital of Queensland, so check out both with a country weekend getaway to the western town.
44. Enjoy the view from Picnic Point Lookout, perched on the top of the Great Dividing Range in Toowoomba – we promise you’ll have Instagrammable photos from this perch.
47. Take a self-guided walk around the Dalby Heritage Trail and see historical buildings, churches and memorials that bring the northern Darling Downs town of Dalby to life. If you need to fuel up for the adventure, a slice of citrus cake at Urban Paddock Cafe is our hot tip for those passing through.
48. To see why they call this big sky country, take a road trip across Queensland on this cross-country journey.
49. Step back to 1876 when they built things bigger and better during your country weekend getaway with a visit to Jimbour House, a private residence which throws open its doors for events like weddings and the Big Skies Festival.
50. Add bragging rights to your dinner party chit-chat by visiting Queensland’s most western vineyard, Riversands Winery in St George.
Have you taken a country weekend getaway lately? Where did you go?
*This post was first published in 2014 and updated in February 2018.