Three hours from Brisbane, the Southern Downs is fast becoming a sought-after SEQ epicurean destination. In-the-know oenophiles flock to its world-class wineries to quaff top-shelf plonk. Meanwhile, fabulous farm-to-table restaurants satiate even the fussiest foodies.
From lux lodgings to outdoor adventures, this slice of paradise near the Scenic Rim has something for every taste. And we’re covering the best bits in this go-to Granite Belt weekend guide.
Southern Downs Food & Drink
Spanning 10,400 acres of fertile farmland, the Southern Downs grows a bewildering array of produce. From stone fruits to strawberries and capsicum to leafy greens, a sizeable chunk of your weekly grocery shop comes from this lush food-producing zone. Of course, there’s no better place to sample fresh Granite Belt produce than straight from the source.
Just south of Stanthorpe, Jamworks Gourmet Foods is a lovely little café showcasing the region’s top producers. Shareable tasting dishes encapsulate a smorgasbord of flavours, and there’s a small in-house shop stocking locally-made preserves. From relishes to jellies and pickles to paste, every jar-encased delicacy delights. If you’re only after a quick bite, Zest Pastries bakes the tastiest sausage rolls and croissants in town.
Granted, no Southern Downs holiday would be complete without sipping sublime local wines. We’ve written a whole post covering the best Granite Belt wineries. Just want to know where to go? Hit Ridgemill Estate, Ballandean Estate, or Balancing Heart Wines.
Giraween National Park
There’s more to the Southern Downs than stuffing your stomach with zesty fresh produce and silky smooth wine.
Whether you’re a hardened hiker or a guilt-ridden gourmand, Giraween National Park offers an array of boulder-studded trails to burn off the carbs. Meaning the “Place of Flowers” in the Darug tongue, Giraween blossoms with colour come spring. The park stays open year-round, though it’s prudent to prepare for sub-zero winter nights and scorching summer days.
The most popular trail is the 8.5km Northern Circuit, which spans otherworldly rock formations like the Pyramid and Granite Arch. Extra-fit hikers could also tackle the Southern Circuit to marvel at cragged hotspots like Castle Rock, the Sphinx and Turtle Rock.
Not feeling that energetic? You can access most major sites via short, more manageable tracks. If you want to sleep outdoors, pitch a tent at the Bald Rock Creek or Castle Rock campgrounds.
Southern Downs Accommodation
The Southern Downs hosts an array of accommodations, from whimsical winery cottages to rustic eco retreats.
A stone’s throw from Stanthorpe, Ridgemill Estate Wines offers a range of contemporary on-site cabins. In between sipping sessions, circumnavigate the estate by bike and pat their adorable barnyard animals. Evening barbeques heaving with aromatic locally-sourced meats offer a special treat come sundown.
Also near Stanthorpe, Granite Belt Retreat has 20 cosy cedarwood cabins, each with a log fire and romantic bushland views. Grab a pint from the on-site brewery and devour country-style meals from the homestead restaurant.
Plan Your Southern Downs Weekend with Kiff & Culture
Hankering to experience the region in one action-packed escape?
Then let Kiff & Culture organise your foodie connoisseur weekend. We’ve teamed up with the top local providers to craft fully-bespoke itineraries for our guests.