Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt

Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt

Whether it's sitting by a log fire in the "brass monkey" season or picking fruit in summer, Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt region offer a back-to-basics break — with plenty of good food and wine along the way.

Getting there

Stanthorpe is about a three-hour drive south-west of Brisbane, via Warwick. Take the New England Highway and you can't miss it.

When you get there

Have a drink with the locals at the Commercial Hotel then go to Anna's on the corner of O'Mara Terrace and Wallangarra Road for authentic and reasonably priced Italian food. They do a buffet on Friday and Saturday nights but don't be put off; it's all freshly-cooked food. Think mussels with garlic and tomato, stuffed capsicums, Italian chicken, prawn cutlets and scaloppine, followed by apple torta or a traditional zabaglione or tiramisu — as much as you can squeeze in for $35 a head.


Get out on the food and wine trail and fill your belly — and your car boot. Follow the strangely named Strangebird alternative wine trail (don't ask, I've heard the official explanation and I'm none the wiser), which will take you around the wineries of the region.

Queensland isn't known for its wine but some of the Granite Ridge wineries are starting to show what they can do, especially with lesser-known grape varieties such as nebbiolo and tempranillo.

Some of the better known names are Summit Estate, Symphony Hill Wines, Robert Channon Wines, Ballandean Estate and Granite Ridge Wines, but there are many more than you can get through in a day.

Don't spend the whole day in the wineries (well, you can, I guess), as there's plenty of eating and food tasting to do as well.

The cool climate area around Stanthorpe is best known for its apples and a good place for these is Suttons Juice Factory, Cidery & Distillery on the New England Highway at Thulimbah (back towards Warwick). You can pick your own apples and taste their ciders and liqueurs, and they have recently opened a low-key cafe with seriously good home-cooked food and apple desserts.

Just up the road from Suttons is Vincenzo's, which is a good place to grab a coffee and stock up on local produce. They sell everything from wine and apples to local quail and it's worth going in for a look if nothing else.

I'd aim to be at Suttons for lunch, or another good option is the Queensland College of Wine Tourism, which includes the student-run Banca Ridge winery and a bistro that has interesting lunch platters as well as à la carte options.

you've still got room for dinner after all that, try the "pub grub" at the Country Club Hotel (phone ph (07) 4681 1033).


Load up on breakfast at Cosmo Café on Maryland Street. They do a big cooked breakfast for about $10 and are regarded as having some of the best coffee in town.

Then go and walk off your indulgences in the Girraween National Park, about 20 minutes south of Stanthorpe, towards Tenterfield. Girraween is known for its huge granite outcrops, wildflowers and waterfalls and has a range of walking tracks.

If you're feeling lazy, you can just amble to the Granite Arch, which takes about 30 minutes return. If you've really over-eaten, maybe go to the Sphinx granite pinnacle and Turtle Rock (yep, it's shaped like a turtle), which will take you about four hours return.

Keep an eye out for wildlife — the park is full of kangaroos and bird life, along with frogs and possums. The park also has some great picnic spots, so pick up some gourmet food en route or see if your accommodation provider does picnic baskets.

There are picnic tables at the Bald Rock Creek day use area, next to the visitor centre, or you'll find less people at the Mt Norman day use area, about half an hour's drive down an unsealed road (possibly not an option in a rental vehicle).

What to bring home

How big is your car? Travel light so you can fit in some wine, a large bag of apples, some apple cider or liqueur, some berries and stone fruit if they're in season and some locally-made treats such as homemade choccies or gourmet cakes. There are also plenty of places to buy top-quality local vegies, if you want to stock up for the week ahead.

Where to stay

Stanthorpe is a B&B sort of place; think cosy cabins and romantic retreats.

Many of the wineries in the area offer accommodation, including Granite Ridge, Ridgemill Estate, Summit Estate and Whiskey Gully Wines.

There are dozens of good B&Bs scattered around the countryside and they range from budget to luxury. You can search by criteria at

For a special occasion, Braeside has a range of upscale accommodation including cottages and a grand homestead. It's not cheap, but it is top quality and would earn you plenty of brownie points.

Got any other suggestions? Share your insight below.

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