Here in Brisbane we are blessed to have so many places on our doorstep that are perfect for weekend getaways. Just 90 minutes drive from the city brings you to Southern Queensland Country, an area extending from Toowoomba and the Darling Downs through the South Burnett to the Southern Downs and Granite Belt.
Autumn is an especially beautiful time to experience the crisp country air, award-winning wines and fresh seasonal produce of this bountiful region. With the introduction of direct twice-daily flights from Sydney to Toowomba, the region has become very accessible for interstate folk as well.
Escape to the country
From stays in heritage B&Bs to cedar cottages, converted churches, mountain cabins and a luxury pet-friendly experience, the region offers a fantastic array of country escapes. The Autumn Breathe Breaks highlighted here entice you to take time out and reconnect with life, to breathe deeply and hear the crunch of autumn leaves underfoot.
All packages are valid till May 31, 2016, and subject to availability. Note that some of the prices quoted here are per couple and others are per person. Book directly with the operators and tell them you want to book an Autumn Breathe Break.
♦ Quest Toowoomba’s package is $518 per couple for 2 nights in a one-bedroom apartment overlooking the autumn colours of Queens Park, a bottle of Symphony Hill wine and a plate of local cheese, olives, cured meats and crusty bread on arrival, complimentary entry to Cobb & Co Museum and noon checkout. Quest is in the heart of Toowoomba, a short walk to restaurants and galleries and a short drive to Ju Raku En Japanese Garden, which is particularly beautiful in autumn. Bookings: 07 4690 2222.
♦ Ravensbourne Forest Chalets at Palmtree has the perfect loved-up getaway with a bottle of Holland Wines from Crow’s Nest and chocolates, a hearty breakfast hamper, cosy log fires and private balcony overlooking a tranquil rainforest. Buy a picnic hamper from reception and explore nearby walking trails or take a leisurely drive visiting local food and wine producers. Two-night packages priced from $450 per couple; surcharges apply for weekend stays. Bookings: 07 4697 8185.
♦ Deshons Retreat, in wine country just outside of Kingaroy, has a package for $500 per couple with two nights in a boutique hideaway, breakfast basket of local produce, one-hour in-room massage, a tasting plate of duck terrine, sourdough bread, olive oil and dukkah, and all the fresh country air you can breathe. Bookings: 07 4163 6688.
♦ Sample fine wine and reach for the stars at Mulanah Gardens, nestled in bushland near Kingaroy. Priced at $420 per couple Monday to Thursday, it includes 2 nights in a self-contained cottage with spa bath and wood fire, breakfast each morning, a personalised tour and wine tasting at Kingsley Grove Estate, wood-fired pizza and a glass of wine at the winery; and a star gazing tour at Kingaroy Observatory. Weekends $20 extra per couple. Bookings: 0427 643 142.
♦ Kingaroy Country Motel has a 2-night package for $250 per couple in recently refurbished rooms, including a bottle of local wine, continental breakfast, handmade confectionery from Taste South Burnett and discount vouchers for local businesses. Valid weekends only. The colourful Burrandowan Picnic Races are on May 14; for an extra $50 per person extend the package to include a race ticket and return bus transfers. Bookings: 07 4162 1966 or email@example.com
♦ The Savour Autumn package at Pioneer Lodge Motel in Kingaroy starts from $320 per couple and includes 2 nights accommodation, breakfasts and a bottle of local wine. Dinner packages extra. Explore the South Burnett wine trail, country golf courses, the Kingaroy Observatory and the beautiful Bunya Mountains. Bookings: 07 4162 3999 or firstname.lastname@example.org
♦ Breathe the outdoors with a break at the BIG4 Kingaroy Holiday Park from $260 per couple for 2 nights in an ensuite cabin with a cheese plate, a bottle of local wine, handmade confectionery from Taste South Burnett and discount vouchers from local businesses. The South Burnett Wine Trail, fishing and watersports, historic homesteads, country pubs, a lavender farm and walks in the Bunya Mountains are all within easy reach. Bookings: 1800 502 218.
♦ Slow down and take in the magic of the Bunya Mountains with a 2-night break from $345, including an ‘ultimate Bliss package’, breakfast hamper and BBQ pack for two plus a bottle of South Burnett wine. Relax by the log fireplace, take in the mountain views, breathe in the mountain air, relax and refuel your spirit. Bookings: 07 4668 3126.
♦ If you can’t bear to leave the dog, consider the pet-friendly Alure Stanthorpe, set on a hilltop amongst native bushland in the heart of Granite Belt Wine Country. Spend 2 nights in a luxury villa with European kitchen, L’Occitane toiletries, outdoor heated spa and cosy fireplace. Prices from $380 per night midweek including accommodation, continental breakfast basket, dog treats and a bottle of Granite Belt sparkling wine. Bookings: 07 4681 4476 or www.alurestanthorpe.com.au
♦ Treat your special someone to Maric Park Cottages’ Relax & Romance package, priced from $499 per couple for 2 nights with chocolates and local sparkling wine on arrival, breakfast hamper of local juice and homemade bread and jams each morning, and noon checkout. Relax on the deck, settle in for a movie in the purpose-built home theatre, walk in the bush, taste wine at the Granite Belt cellar doors or do a guided bike tour on country roads. Mid-week bookings enjoy a third night free. Bookings: 0417 606 647.
♦ Relax and recharge at Warwick’s gracious Guy House B & B (circa 1880). Stay two nights mid-week for $170 per couple per night and receive the third night free. Package includes a bottle of local wine, tasting plate of autumn produce, breakfasts, full use of the garden and hammock (warning: you may never emerge!) and Devonshire tea at nearby Belle Vue Café at the discounted price of $5 per person. Valid mid-week. Bookings: 07 4661 7669.
♦ Enjoy an autumn picnic at Ballandean Estate in Stanthorpe for $164 per couple, including a picnic hamper for two, a bottle of Ballandean Estate Shiraz or Sauvignon Blanc, a personalised cellar door wine tasting with a member of the Puglisi Family and a three-year adopt-a-vine certificate (which gets 15% discount on mail order or cellar door purchases for three years). Bookings: 07 4684 1226.
♦ Diamondvale B & B Cottages & Lodge in Stanthorpe has an Indulgence package for 2 nights in a one-bedroom cottage filled with little luxuries as well as fully cooked breakfasts delivered each morning; a local cheese platter and bottle of wine on arrival; a dinner voucher for two and transfers to a local restaurant; a full-day regional tour sampling local wines, craft beers and produce with homemade soups and fresh bread rolls on your return. Special touches include aromatherapy candles and relaxation music on arrival, an artist’s easel complete with paper, watercolours and pencils, and a library of books. Priced from $410 per person for 2 nights mid-week; weekends extra. Bookings: 07 4681 3367.
♦ Deep in the heart of Queensland’s premier food and wine region, Happy Valley Retreat has 16 cedar cabins with log fires and an onsite micro-brewery. Two-night packages priced from $299 per person mid-week include a welcome drink and cheese platter in the rustic Brew Bar, a 4-course platter matched with craft beers, continental breakfast hamper featuring local produce, and a full-day food and wine tour including lunch at a local winery. Weekend surcharge. Bookings: 07 4681 1370.
♦ Let old world charm and opulence coax you into slowing down and smelling the roses at Abbey of the Roses country house manor in Warwick. Sink into luxuriously comfy beds, read in the garden amid falling autumn leaves, relax in one of the gazebos, or do one of the ‘Five Walks of Warwick’. Two-night midweek packages priced from $510 per couple including dinner for two in the Vestry on the first night, a bottle of local wine followed by a sherry or port in the drawing room, and full breakfast each morning. Add an extra mid-week night including breakfast for $200. Bookings: (07) 4661 9777.
To celebrate the launch of these Autumn Breathe Breaks, we had the pleasure of joining in a Shared Table lunch hosted by Southern Queensland Country Tourism. It was an absolute privilege to experience a weekend of Southern Queensland hospitality and you can read all about that fabulous lunch in another post.
All photos in this post were supplied by Kath Rose & Associates.