We usually don’t drive to the West of Brisbane. It is either going North to the beautiful beaches of the Sunshine Coast or South to the amazing beaches of the Gold Coast…the decision can be tough at times.
For a change of our normal travel habits and to see a very good friend from Germany, we actually managed to leave our current home city via the Cunningham Highway to the West. After only 45min of driving we were surrounded by pastoral fields and green mountain ridges…you couldn’t feel more distant from the busy and buzzling city life.
This whole area is referred to as the Granite Belt. It is the food bowl and wine trail region of Queensland. Due to its high altitude (800m on average) and fertile soil, it boasts with moderate temperature during the humid Queensland summer and can even show off with some snow in winter.
Where to stop and what to see?
Warwick is our first stop on our trip to the Granite Belt after a 2hr trip from Brisbane. Also referred to as the Rose City, this sleepy town boast with historic sandstone buildings and impressive churches. It is also famous for rodeos.
Stanthorpe is also known as the city of apples, with quaint heritage buildings and a very thriving community feel. There are nice walks through the parklands along the Severn River with picnic huts and public BBQs. A visit to the friendly and knowledgeable staff at the local tourist information is highly recommended.
Stanthorpe hosts many culinary eateries, however due to time we opted for a lunch at Café 77 on Maryland Street. It is a popular place with huge portions that are well priced, and very well favoured with the local backpacker community that at times outnumbers the locals to help at harvest time.
Stanthorpe is an agricultural town by heart, but all the wineries and farms are actually outside the township. Just follow the New England highway and you are practically on the Granite Belt Wine Trail. The 34 km wine bike trail allows you to explore the wineries via the safer backstreets.
There are about 31 wineries which are all offering their own unique wine styles. The Stanthorpe tourist information can provide details and wine trail maps. Some wineries even provide accommodation if you are after a romantic and indulgent stay.
We stopped at Granite Ridge Wines to sample and stock up on sparkling wines for our upcoming family celebrations. We love buying directly from suppliers. Not only can we find out why the wine tastes “special”, it is also fun to know how it was grown and produced.
Tenterfield is about 56 km south of Stanthorpe and is actually located in New South Wales, the neighbouring state of Queensland. The town is a major regional area with a petrol station and supermarket.
There is a population of about 4,000 inhabitants in this sleepy town that offers an abundance of historical buildings, which are very well worth a slender.
To our surprise Tenterfield is of quite significant historical importance for the Australian history. It was here that Sir Henry Parkes delivered his federation speech in 1889, which ultimately led to formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. It was also in discussion as the capital city of Australia with Canberra.
We are staying here overnight for a good rest before heading to the Girraween National Park.
Girraween National Park
There are four Granite Belt national parks to choose from, each of them offering camping, hiking and enjoying nature. We opted for the Girraween national park which is located 34 km to the South from Stanthorpe,
In spring a wildflower spectacular is put on display by mother nature which is where Girraween National Park has its name from…Girraween means “place of flowers”. It offers a landscape of massive granite boulder and outcrops which are inviting for walking and rock climbing.
The majority of the walks start from the Bald Rock Creek day use area which also hosts a visitor centre. There are electric BBQs, picnic tables and toilets.
We went up the impressive Pyramid which is a 3.7km return hike and can be seen in the distance from Bald Creek. Be prepared to wear proper hiking boots that provide good grip as the path is quite steep and slippery. The amazing views from top will pay off for the hard effort.
Where to stay?
For the one night we stayed at the Tenterfield Lodge in Tenterfield which was built in 1875. It is not that often that we come across buildings of such age in Australia. Therefore, staying at the Tenterfield Lodge was very special. The rooms have been recently renovated but still have their original character. We even had an electric fireplace with a fake flame in our room, which will come handy in those cold winter nights. I am sure this building has many stories to tell.
There is also has a caravan park attached which was very hand as our friends are travelling with a campervan. It actually allowed us to have dinner and breakfast together at the camp kitchen just next to the original stable.
Overall we had a fantastic weekend away in the Granite Belt. We were amazed about the interesting granite rock formations, enjoyed the slightly scary hike up to the Pyramid and relaxed in the quaint little country towns where life just seems to tick a little bit slower to our usual city bustle. We will definitely be back for some more wine and rock climbing.