Over 50s Lifestyle Travel

3-night getaway to Stanthorpe & the Granite Belt

May 15, 2024

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I took a short break and explored the area of Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt. We wanted a leisurely few days away seeing some sights, taking in a winery but also having time to chill out. Getting away for short breaks or drives falls nicely into my philiopshy of ‘being an active participant in life’ so off we went.

Neither of us had been to Stanthorpe and surrounds before so I was looking forward to discovering the area. I was very surprised at how much there is to see, taste and enjoy so we will definitely be making another trip there. It is a 3 hour drive from Brisbane so not far for a long weekend or mid week break.

Stanthorpe & The Granite Belt

What to see

The Granite Belt/Stanthorpe area offers something for everyone and we only saw a small sampling. It is definitely a place you can return to and discover new things. It is also popular for Winter weekend getaways to enjoy good food, wine and cozy times in front of the fire.

So what’s on offer?

  • Wineries
  • Nature
  • Hiking and scenic walks – suitable for al levels and ages
  • Scenic drives – there are 7 seven suggested tourist drives on the Granite Belt and we selected two
  • Delicious produce – cheese, wine, jams, fruit
  • Peace and Quiet

Where we stayed

Granite Gardens Cottages and Lake Resort

Mike and I wanted a short getaway combined with some sightseeing and relaxtion. The Granite Gardens Cottages & Lake Resort gave us that and more. With only 3 cottages on 35 acres, situated 5kms past Stanthorpe we felt relaxed as soon as we checked in. The gardens are lovely, full of birdlife and there were some friendly bovine neighbours who said hello over a morning coffee.

The property is the perfect location for visiting the wineries and surrounding areas. You would need a car to get there but you would need a car to tour around anyway. The cottage was well appointed with a spa bath and bathroom products of handmade soaps, bath and shower gels provided by the local Washpool Company and a fully stocked fridge with local produce for breakfast or snacks. Chris and Lynne thought of everything including Lynne’s homemade rocky road and were wonderful hosts. we will definitely be back.

Our Itinerary

Day 1 – Brisbane to Stanthorpe via Warwick

We left home around 9:30ish and headed towards Warwick which is is a town and locality in southeast Queensland, Australia, lying 130 kilometres south-west of Brisbane. It is the administrative centre of the Southern Downs Region local government area.  It is just over a two hour drive from Brisbane along the Gateway Mwy and Cunningham Hwy.

After a hour driving we stopped at the little village of Aratula. A rural town in the Scenic Rim of South East Queensland with a population of around 532 as at the 2016 census.

There is a fabulous bakery Arther Clive’s Family Bakehouse right on the highway and is the perfect place to stop for a coffee and refreshments. It was pretty full by the time we stopped at around 10:30am.

After a refreshing coffee and toilet stop we headed to Warwick for lunch at the Criterion Hotel. This heritage hotel was welcoming and I loved the interior design. Just look at the gorgeous tiled floor and stained glass windows. For lunch we opted for the Chicken Parmi with a glass of red and were not disappointed. The servings were very generous which is typical of country hospitality.

A quick walk around after lunch, we picked up some supplies for an easy dinner and headed to our accommodation the Granite Gardens Cottages and Lake Resort, Stanthorpe.

Day 2 – Stanthorpe , the Armistice Way and getting lost sort of!

After a leisurely breakfast, enjoying a coffee on the verandah of our cottage we headed into the Information Centre at Stanthorpe. The staff we so friendly and gave us more than enough information on the area.

There are several scenic drives around the Granite Belt area and for Day 2 we opted for a look around Stanthorpe and a drive of the Armistice Way. 34km via Thulimbah, Pozieres and Amiens

In Stanthorpe we visited the Town Creek Walk, a walk through the main street and then a quick drive to Sentimental Rocks for an easy walk through clusters of giant granite boulders along the bush walking tracks at Sentimental Rocks.

Back to the car for a drive along the Armistice Way which was a 34 kim drive taking in the area where veterans returning home settled after World War 1. The veterans named roads and hamlets after battles from WW1. Our first stop was Amiens Legacy Centre which has a train carriage full of memorabilia and history about the life of returned soldiers in 1920s.

We continued on and about half an hour later realised we probably weren’t on the right road. A passing local stopped and told us we had missed the turn off ‘way back’. We retraced our steps, and found our way back just enjoying the time out. We weren’t on a schedule so the detour didn’t really matter but at least we found out sooner than later.

We stopped in at the Stanthorpe Cheese Factory then on to The Big Apple and the popular Vincenzo’s Deli and Cafe for lunch where we enjoyed a delicious pannini and I treated myself to a woollen poncho in daring Red and Black!

After lunch we stopped in at the Kent Saddlery and I treated Mike to a leather carry bag for his birthday.

Home to our cottage to relax with a good book and enjoy and afternoon walk around the property. It is Autumn so the glorious Autumnal colours were everywhere.

Day 3 – The Highland Drive, a national park and a wine tasting lunch

Today, we were heading to Ballandean Estate Winery for a grazing board and wine tasting as part of an early birthday celebration for Mike.

We started out back at Stanthorpe to take in the town’s murals and then the lookout over Stanthorpe and surrounds at Mt Marlay. It was then on the Highland Drive which took us to Storm King Dam, Girraween national park and our destination of Ballendean. The Girraween National Park has so many walking trails and hiking trails. On this occasion, we didn’t explore as Mike currently has a hip issue which prevents him walking too far. The area looked beautiful so hopefully on a future visit we can explore more.

There are many wineries in the area but Ballandean had been recommended to us. Ballandean Estate is Queensland’s oldest family owned and operated winery. Located in Ballandean on the Granite Belt, 850 metres above sea level, the estate is home to some of Australia’s oldest Shiraz vines, and rarest wine varietals. Their winemaking practices combine the best of the old and the new. 

We enjoyed a leisurely few hours eating delicious morsels from the grazing board for two and tasting several wines. As it was mid week the restaurant wasn’t busy and we happily chatted with another couple who were celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary.

We selected 4 wines each to try and they were all great choices. The Merlot was Mike’s favourite and mine was the White Muscat which is a dessert wine. I don’t usually drink dessert wines as they are too sweet but the White Muscat hit the right mark – not too sweet.

A quick look at the local ‘pyramid’ which was hand built in one of the local’s fields and then home to enjoy a last night in our cottage.

From Wikipedia:

The pyramid was built after a local resident, Peter Watters (Watters Vine Management Service), asked the land owner Stewart Morland what was to be done with the surplus amount of granite rocks that were excavated for land tillage, humorously suggesting that a pyramid could be constructed.[2] Four hours later Morland decided to build the pyramid and contracted the work to Ken Stubberfield at a cost of more than $100,000.[2][3][4]

Day 4 – Stanthorpe to Brisbane via Warwick

We enjoyed our last morning on the verandah with coffee and then reluctantly packed to come home. We both agreed it would have been nice to stay an extra couple of days to enjoy some time out at the cottage. It’s a reason to return that is for sure.

After saying farewell to Chris, our host, we headed to The Christmas Tree farm just out of Stanthorpe. On our trip to Tassie a couple of years ago we had discovered The Christmas Shop in Richmond, so I was determined not to miss The Christmas Tree farm. Acres of Christmas Trees growing which will be ready for Christmas plus of course two large areas full of Christmas decorations. We purchased a couple of decorations for our tree as is our custom when we travel and then headed for Warwick.

We had planned a trip to the Queen Mary Falls, but alas it was windy and showery so just made a quick stop in Warwick before heading down to Aratula and the delicious bakery for lunch.

We arrived home late afternoon and both agreed it had been a wonderfully relaxing getaway and one we would like to repeat.

I would highly recommend a visit to the area and perhaps 5 days would really give you time to experience what is on offer and also include some down time.

Have you visited Stanthorpe and The Granite Belt?

We came home feeling relaxed, rested yet in the mood for more travel! We’ve just booked a trip to Cairns in North Queensland for 6 nights at the end of July.

Sue Loncaric

I’m joining Min from Write of the Middle for #WWWhimsy Wednesday Words & Whimsy link up

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way

28 Comments

  • Reply Retirement Reflections May 15, 2024 at 09:41

    What a wonderful (and very well-deserved) get-away. Peace and relaxation flow from the photos! <3

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:45

      HI Donna, I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. Waking up to peace and quiet I could do this every day. We didn’t want to come home! x

  • Reply Min Write of the Middle May 15, 2024 at 10:36

    Hi Sue, so glad you enjoyed your getaway. Isn’t is just gorgeous around that area? Love the look of where you stayed. I might suggest a stay there to the tennis player for another visit! We stayed at Granite Ridge Winery Estate at Ballandean in a cottage in their vineyard when we went last and we’re going again in July. Looks like you had lunch at what used to be called ‘The Barrel Room’ at Ballandean. I’m not sure what it’s called now but it was a lovely Italian restaurant that we had lunch at when we were there. We were surprised too by how much there was to see and do around the area. We’re really looking forward to going back! Thanks so much for linking up with #WWWhimsy and hope you enjoy the rest of your week! xo

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:46

      It is a beautiful place to stay, Min, although you do need a car. If you want peace and quiet then this is certainly the place for you. It wasn’t far from any of the wineries and when we came back to the cottage it was so relaxing. Can’t wait to go again, although we’ve booked now to go to Cairns at the end of July. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee May 15, 2024 at 13:22

    I love that sort of interactive art – gorgeous pics, esp the Umbrella. I thought they pyramid was like those Bories in France.but it’s a closed off pyrqamid? Do you know why he built it? That’s so wild! (that would be enough to make me want to go there…Looks like you had a great trip!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:48

      Hi Lydia, The pyramid was built after a local resident, Peter Watters (Watters Vine Management Service), asked the land owner Stewart Morland what was to be done with the surplus amount of granite rocks that were excavated for land tillage, humorously suggesting that a pyramid could be constructed.[2] Four hours later Morland decided to build the pyramid and contracted the work to Ken Stubberfield at a cost of more than $100,000. I might update my post, thanks for asking the question. x

  • Reply marsha57 May 15, 2024 at 14:23

    This looks like the perfect getaway, Sue! I love the idea of the small cottage on a resort that has a little of everything and then lots of things within a few kms. Love the photos of you against those murals.

    https://marshainthemiddle.com/

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:49

      It was a perfect getaway, Marsha. Time for sightseeing but also relaxing. I could live in that cottage! So peaceful and quiet. x

  • Reply Thistles and Kiwis May 15, 2024 at 14:59

    Looks like a great break – so many great places to see.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:50

      It is a beautiful area, Barbara and only 2-3 hours from Brisbane. I don’t know why we haven’t visited before. x

  • Reply Toni Pike May 15, 2024 at 21:55

    It looks amazing, Sue. I once stayed near Stanthorpe on a farm when I was a student – it’s a beautiful area.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:50

      Oh that would have been lovely, Toni. We haven’t been before but will definitely be revisiting in he future. x

  • Reply Joanne May 16, 2024 at 02:49

    That sounds like such a wonderful little getaway. That cottage you stayed at was so cute!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:51

      The cottage was very well appointed, Joanne and the gardens were a delight. I enjoyed sitting on the verandah each morning with a coffee just taking in the peace and quiet. x

  • Reply Janine May 16, 2024 at 06:10

    It looks like you had a wonderful time Sue. I shall definitely copy your itinerary if I get to go to Stanthorpe. Thank you for sharing your trip and your beautiful photos.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 06:52

      Hi Janine, there is so much to see and do in Stanthorpe. I think you and your boys would enjoy hiking in Girraween National Park. So much to do but also a perfect place to relax and absorb the peace and quiet. x

  • Reply Debbie May 16, 2024 at 15:04

    I loved reading this Sue, you had a beautiful place to stay and made the most of your days away – just perfect!! I’ve been to Warwick and it’s a lovely place to stop, quite interesting buildings from what I remember. I’m so glad you enjoyed your getaway and it doesn’t have to be far away to make it a restful time does it?

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 16:32

      It was a very special getaway, Deb and we plan to do more of these now that Mike feels more comfortable about his health. x

  • Reply Denyse Whelan May 16, 2024 at 16:25

    How wonderful to have a rural break like this. We do have an amazing country off some of the busier highways and by ways. I did enjoy reading and viewing this and can see it hit the spot for you both. What a joy you have ahead of you in July off to my fave place ever…Far North Qld.I hope school hols are over…because we went way back in early July and it was Victorian school hols and the places were packed!! Denyse

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 16, 2024 at 16:33

      HI Denyse, oop didn’t think about the southern holidays although we are going at the end of July, early August, so I think we should be right. Stanthorpe was so lovely and peaceful. I will go back for sure. x

  • Reply Natalie May 17, 2024 at 08:17

    What a wonderful getaway, Sue, and not too far from Brisbane. I look forward to reading about your trip to Cairns in July. Have a wonderful week! #WWWhimsy

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:49

      It was fabulous, Natalie we really enjoyed the time away, exploring but also having some down time. x

  • Reply EmD May 17, 2024 at 23:46

    I suffer from an embarrassing lack of knowledge about Australia. A few basics from when my cousin briefly lived in Sydney and one or two random other things beyond “joeys.”
    From the start, your photos gave me a very fresh perspective and were surprisingly NOT part of the stereotype I had concocted.
    The cottage looks so homey, crisp and clean, btw…sign me up!
    Looks like a lovely, relaxing getaway.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:41

      Hi Em, unfortunately many people think that there are still kangaroos hopping down the city streets LOL :). We are fortunate to have great beaches, wide open spaces, red, dusty interior and beautiful country. The cottage was delightful and so well maintained and well appointed. x

  • Reply Christie Hawkes May 19, 2024 at 06:36

    It sounds like a delightful getaway, Sue. I really enjoyed looking through the photos.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 19, 2024 at 16:35

      Thanks Christie. It was so quiet and peaceful we really would have liked to stay longer. Maybe next time x

  • Reply Sherry M May 20, 2024 at 09:32

    We stayed at Ballandean a few weeks ago and did very similar things! We stayed at Cypress Ridge cottages which was lovely and quiet. We took a drive to Tenterfield of course, and had a lovely lunch at the Commercial Hotel there. And of course it’s always fabulous to go for a wander thru Girraween NP. One winter we took a drive out from stanthorpe; it was about to snow and there is no GPS a wee way out of town so we got spectacularly lost!! Terrifying really:) Thought we’d have to spend the night in the car! but finally found our way to tenterfield in the dark (and sleet).

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2024 at 10:02

      Hi Sherry, we didn’t get down to Tenterfield but plan too on another trip. It is so lovely and peaceful out there isn’t it? I remember the winter it snowed in Stanthorpe. We didn’t go but it was across social media and lots of Brisbanites travelled out there. It is terrifying driving those country roads in the dark isn’t it? Thanks so much for your comment and sharing your story of your visit. Have a beautiful week x

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