A weekend with the family Southern Queensland Country
There is nothing quite like a weekend with the family in the Queensland countryside. Dramatic sunsets, secret waterfalls, glistening golden fields of grass that stretch almost to the horizon – country life in Queensland has a magic all of its own.
And there isn’t a local – nor a horse, cow, chicken or wallaby, for that matter – unwilling to stop and welcome you. The produce is fresh, sweet and plentiful, and the crisp, eucalypt-tinged air just as nourishing.
Now is the perfect time to bundle up the family and head to the country for a weekend of exploring, toasting marshmallows and visiting cute farm animals! Away from the glistening coastline, Southern Queensland Country is all about wide-open spaces under big blue skies, cosy farm stays and ancient rainforests. It’s the stuff childhood memories are made of.
Friday afternoon: Get outta town
Tell ‘em it’s a Friday ‘get-outta-town’ early mark. Head west to Toowoomba (about 90 minutes from Brisbane) and find yourself on the edge of the Great Dividing Range.
This cooler-climate town is full of gardens for the kids to explore including Picnic Point Lookout with playground, train rides (on the weekend only) and nearby waterfall with stepping stones. It’s also worth a visit to the huge Queens Park (Carnival of Flowers territory from 21-30 September 2018) or Lake Annand Park with hungry ducks to feed.
Wander the revitalised Railway Precinct for quirky cafes and restaurants (try Railway Street and Russell Street) then cosy on down at a heritage-inspired guest house.
Augusta’s Cottage, Mort Estate Cottage or Ashbrooke Cottage are all family-friendly with a fireplace to set the scene.
AM: Well ain’t that quaint!
Head south along the New England Highway and detour towards the darling town of Clifton, Darling Downs—about an hour’s drive.
For a taste of early settler history, look around the Clifton Historical Museum, which sits inside the old butter factory. The railway station is the second oldest in Queensland: walk the platform and you walk in history’s footsteps. It’s also been rejuvenated to become a visitor’s centre.
If cute-as-a-country-button ain’t your thang, Darling Downs Zoo in Pilton is also nearby with up-close-and-personal animal encounters from exotic lions and tigers to (the more native) emus and koalas.
Famished? Grab lunch at the famous Rudd’s Pub at Nobby, built in 1893 and winner of the best-themed bar in Queensland.
PM: It’s all about the space
Continue an hour along the New England Highway to the Cunningham Highway turnoff and through picturesque countryside to Maryvale.
Family-run Bestbrook Mountain Resort is THE place to really unwind and get a taste of Southern Queensland Country: it’s a melding of rolling green hills and towering mountain views.
Arrive in time for an afternoon horse ride (all abilities are catered for) or the kids can take a wagon ride with whip-cracking techniques to learn.
Catch one of the biggest sunsets you’re ever likely to see before the highlight of any kid’s day, the campfire and marshmallows – this is where stories are shared and passed down through the generations. Gaze upon thousands of stars, they’re shining just for you. Psst – don’t worry about cooking, there’s a licensed restaurant at Bestbrook, open 7 days.
TIP: Gap Creek Farmstay is also nearby (10km west of Cunninghams Gap) with extensive motorbike trails for thrill-seeking families.
AM: (*insert rooster crowing here*)
Up bright and early! There are fresh, warm eggs to be gathered and hungry animals to feed (aww the baby lambs!).
Learn how to milk a cow and then churn the cream into butter, perfect for the billy tea making and damper lessons later on.
Take a deep breath and soak it all in. Time slows down here and life’s to-do list is left behind.
(Psst! Here are some other farm stays near Brisbane.)
PM: Mind the gap
It’s only a two-hour trip back to Brisbane, but there’s lots to see and do on the way so pack a picnic.
Continuing on the Cunningham Highway, Cunninghams Gap is a pass through the Great Diving Range, providing access to the northern side of the Scenic Rim’s Main Range National Park.
There’s a playground of natural wonders to be enjoyed here, including jaw-dropping lookouts and forest walks ranging from the easy Rainforest Circuit to the Fassifern Valley lookout (1.6km, 25 minutes return) to Bare Rock Track (12.5km, 4.5 hours return).
Back on the highway, there’s a choice of roads at Fassifern taking you back to Brisbane, but the southern Boonah-Beaudesert Road is pretty as a picture and will make your country weekend last just that little bit longer.