30 weekend country getaways near Brisbane
If weekend getaways from Brisbane always tend to end up beachside, it’s time to head inland and chase the fresh air of Southern Queensland Country.
Be it for the region’s countless National Parks, award-winning wineries and cellar doors, traditional farm stays, heritage villages or just a glimpse of those incredible starry skies, Southern Queensland Country is one of the ultimate weekend getaways from Brisbane.
A couple of hours drive in exchange for feeling a million miles from home? We call that priceless.
To help make planning your next weekend getaway less painstaking, we’ve wrapped up the very best things to do in Southern Queensland Country. Eat, sleep, explore; it’s what weekends were made for.
Where to visit in Toowoomba and the Darling Downs
Where the Great Dividing Range and Darling Downs merge, this region of SQC is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs. The largest country town in the country, Toowoomba is arguably the most prominent gateway to the region, but a drawcard in its own right; with a burgeoning arts scene and award-winning dining spots.
Ravensbourne National Park, the Outback town of Dalby, and a foodie pitstop in the Lockyer Valley on the way are just a few of the draw cards for weekenders wanting embrace Queensland country life. If country hubs, arts, dining and history are on your weekend holiday hit list, here are the best ways to spend your time.
1. Treat yourself post-trek to artisan pastries, breakfast and coffee at The Baker’s Duck, on the edge of Toowoomba town centre, then hang around for an afternoon show at the iconic Empire Theatre.
3. For a taste of country life in Southern Queensland Country, head to Warwick as the locals rug up the town’s trees at the Jumpers and Jazz Festival every July. Bring your crochet hooks, knitting needles and get in on the act, or pass through while tackling one of these scenic drives.
4. Hike the forest trails in Ravensbourne National Park. Plan your route to encompass the Gus Beutel Lookout. Your eyes (and your camera) will thank you.
5. Take a walk through Queens Park in Toowoomba during autumn. The temperature atop the Great Dividing Range is greatly different to the humidity of the coastal regions; the crisp mornings, in true autumn style, make the trees drop their leaves in a stunning display of orange, red and gold.
6. Time your visit to Toowoomba during the Carnival of Flowers; a 10-day festival at the end of September celebrating the arrival of spring. The entire town comes alive with events, markets, shows and is overtaken by the most magnificent floral displays.
7. Saddling up for a horseriding trek through glorious green hills, rocky outcrops and trickling riverbeds with Fordsdale Horseback Adventures in the Lockyer Valley is the perfect detour on your way out to the region proper.
8. Walk through Cunningham’s Gap 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.
9. Take a drive north to Kingaroy, the peanut capital of Queensland and grab a bag of peanuts from the Peanut Van on your way in. Then, like the best made plans, turn a day trip into the perfect country weekend getaway with this 48-hour guide to Kingaroy
11. Head south of Laidley, a tiny country hamlet, to the edge of Lake Dyer. Here, visitors are able to camp on the edges of this hidden rural camping ground, surrounded by vistas of Little Liverpool Range and Great Dividing Range. Throw a line in, jump on a stand-up paddleboard or take a dip for weekend getaways done right.
12. Stop by Awassi Cheesery in the Grantham Hills to stock up on their farmstead cheese (made from the milk of their on-site sheep). Or linger for lunch in their shady avocado grove.
13. Book a night at the self-contained Stockton Rise Country Retreat near Forest Hill and wake up to sweeping views of their 400 hectare working farm and fertile valleys beyond.
14. Be wowed by a truly impressive collection of retro automotive memorabilia, followed by a homemade cobb loaf, at The Barn and Scotty’s Garage in the Lockyer Valley.
Things to do in Southern Downs and Granite Belt
From Stanthorpe to Ballandean, Granite Belt and the Southern Downs is Southern Queensland Country’s food and wine county. Tasting some of the best produce in the country while working it all off on a forest hike is what it’s all about in this part of SQC.
15. Climb the prehistoric boulders that formed about 250 million years ago in Girraween National Park. If you’re keen to tackle a challenging climb, try The Pyramid for breathtaking views. If you’re more about gentle exertion, check into Girraween Environmental Lodge and soak up the scenery from a hot tub instead.
17. 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.
18.Waterfalls, creeks and crystal clear rivers are just about everywhere you look in SQC, and if you fancy a dip, make sure you visit any of these top 10 waterholes. Queen Mary Falls is worthy of a dedicated day trip; get there with this itinerary.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. For an evening unlike anything else, reserve your spot at Ballandean Estate’s Opera in the Vineyard. The festival attracts almost 2,000 people each year, but it’s worth stopping by for lunch and a glass of wine at any time of year.
23. Explore the Granite Belt Region on two wheels. Day hire bicycles and self-guide, or join a local tour of orchards, cellar doors and artisan produce.
24. Just 10 kilometres south of Stanthorpe, Storm King Dam, swim, sail or water-ski across this picturesque expanse of water, or enjoy a picnic on its grassy shores.
25. Lace those boots and set out on a hiking adventure following one of these nine trails.
Experiencing Western Country (including Balonne and Western Downs)
Historic country towns and farms, winding rivers and famous public houses, and a world-famous watermelon festival; Western Country of SQC is as quirky, and as Australian, as it gets.
26. Give the regular routine a shake-up and check into an authentic farm stay experience. We like Taabinga Homestead and Bestbrook Mountain Resort for hands-on weekend getaways from Brisbane. Here’s our take on the best farm stays across the state.
27. Explore a number of quaint country towns along the Sunset Way Tourist Drive. Travel west from Tara until you reach Surat, three hours west, right on the edge of Queensland’s Outback. A deeply nostalgic drive, cruise through the Australian country towns of old, stopping in at local pubs and tiny bakeries as you go.
28.Take a drive out to Thallon. As well as being home to William, a giant statue of a Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat, admire the breathtaking murals adorning the grain silos. Titled ‘The Watering Hole’, this enormous artwork was developed by artists Joel Fergie (The Zookeeper) and Travis Vinson (Drapl) in collaboration with the Thallon Community to recognise members of Thallon’s Indigenous Community.
29. Home to a quarter of Australia’s watermelon exports, it stands to reason that Chinchilla has a festival to match its melon capital status. This biannual festival takes place every other February so save the date and make a country weekend getaway out of it with this guide.