Queensland is known for its lovely (read: sweaty) hot summers and temperate (read: really quite warm) winters, so it's a little surprising to discover that there are plenty of romantic weekend getaway destinations with a seriously autumnal feel just on our doorstep.
If you've never ventured to the beautiful Southern Queensland Country, and you pine for European-style winters with all the serious love-scene-setting criteria (quaint cottages, crackling fire places, and amazing regional wine anyone?), then this is the spot for you.
If you are looking for a romantic weekend away, then you're in luck because it's just built for lovebirds.
This is honestly the lucky country people; the leaves change colours, the locals will welcome you with open arms, life slows down and you'll experience the genuine country life.
Because there is so much to see, and the weekend is only two days long, we've round up our top picks of what to eat, drink and buy with our Southern Queensland Country itinerary built for loved-up couples.
A seasonally changing menu and a wine list boasting more than 500 wines makes Veraison in Toowoomba a must do for any serious foodie. Awarded a prestigious Chef's Hat by the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide, this bustling eatery is know for its inventive food creations.
Sit among 150-year-old wine barrels in the heart of the Ballandean Estate Winery at The Barrel Room Café in Ballandean in the Granite Belt and enjoy fresh homemade Italian cuisine or perfectly brewed coffees with scones and locally made jam. While you're there, don't forget to head to the cellar door to sample some of the region's top drops.
Run by local legend and amateur cook Bev Ruskey Spring Creek Mountain Café, in Killarney is one eatery where the local fare really is every bit as incredible as the view. Sink your teeth into the renowned Killarney beef or lamb as you look out over Mt Wilson and the Condamine River. Tip: the Killarney steak burger is a must-do for the carnivorously inclined.
The Peak at Spicers Peak Lodge in Maryvale is renowned for eclectic and ever changing menu highlighting the region's best local produce. With stunning views out over Spicer's Gap plateau, it's the perfect spot to nestle in next to the open stone fireplace, glass of vino in hand.
Wondai Hotel & Cellar in South Burnett is staying true to its roots and this 110-year-old country pub re-opened its doors late last year after being lovingly refurbished and restored. Enjoy a local wine at the cellar door or stay for a true pub meal in the 1930s themed restaurant.
Sample wines (and beers) from Queensland's best wine producing regions—the Granite Belt and South Burnett—right from the cellar door of some of these award-winning wineries.
Boireann Wines is a boutique winery where the grapevines sit amongst avenues of stunning deciduous trees, which transform into a riot of autumnal colour every year. Boireann's quality red vintages are always in high demand. The 2012 vintage has already sold out but 2013 promises to be another great year and is set to be released soon — sample it for yourself at the cellar door every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Nestled within the highlands of the Granite Belt, Symphony Hill Wines is a family run boutique winery with a great range of varietals. Whether you're looking for a viognier, verdelho, or something tricky to pronounce like a Gewurztraminer, you'll find a match at Symphony Hills.
Crane Wines is a small family owned and operated boutique winery, set amongst a grand old colonial homestead, which enjoys the history of being the first in the South Burnett region. Offering an authentic country cellar door experience perched high up on the Booie Range, where you can sample the distinct flavours of the vineyard overlooking stunning scenes of the valley. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to fully experience the wines and large range of homemade jams, chutneys and tasty treats.
Venture down a tree-lined driveway 8km north of Kingaroy and you'll discover Captain's Paddock Vineyard, a uniquely Southern Queensland Country vineyard. Not only will you be treated to award-winning wines at this specialist boutique winery, you'll also experience spectacular, sweeping views across the Booie Range. Drop in for a cellar door experience or stay overnight at the charming bed and breakfast.
Experience fresh beer on tap, at Granite Belt Brewery in Stanthorpe, and then watch the full process of beer making at this independent brewery. From red ales and pilsners to pale ales and porters, there's something for everyone. Sample the range on a tasting paddle or book into one of the on-site cabin accommodations and try them all.
Southern Queensland Country is one of the state's most abundant producing regions so there are some amazing farm gates and producers to fill your market basket, or simply try the local fare.
This little gem doesn't look like much from the road, but hidden inside a big tin shed is one of the Granite Belt's most charming food experiences, Sutton's Farm in Thulimba. Relaxing at a picnic table in view of the apple orchards while you indulge in authentic homemade apple pie, served with spiced cider ice cream (um, yummy!), is a foodie treat not to be missed. Or you could just sample the delicious Sutton Farm cider, produced on site using their own apples and made by owners David and Ros. You can even pick your own apples straight from the tree and take a basket home.
Bunnyconnellen Olive Grove and Vineyard in Crows Nest is set amongst a picture perfect setting of vines and olive trees where you can taste award-winning produce. Bunnyconnellen is known for producing premium quality extra virgin olive oil, table olives, olive related products, fine wine and other gourmet foods, which you can sample at the rustic cellar door each Sunday between 10am and 4pm.
Hampton Blue in Hampton is a small family run mixed berry farm specialising in organic blueberries and raspberries. Owners Rob and Sue welcome visits where you can amble through the orchard landscapes before you taste the produce and shop for fresh berries as well as Sue's homemade jams, coulis, sauces and vinegars. Call Rob and Sue on 07 46979287 to book your visit.
Granite Belt Dairy in Thulimbah is one of a short list of Queensland farmhouses that produces cheese on the farm using milk from their own herd of top quality Jersey cows. The owners Rosco and Karen are passionate about niche product to plate experiences and he tends to the cows while she cares for the finished product. Stop by for lunch at the on-site café, Jersey Girls, which offers a small, considered menu of homemade jams from the farm's orchards and veal and beef from their very own herd. Hot tip: Don't leave without picking up a caramelised onion and beetroot relish to take home.
When Sunshine Coast couple Shannon and Megan visited the South Burnett region to get married, little did they know they'd come back with a new home and business, Taste South Burnett in Kingaroy. Now they run one of the finest gourmet fare experiences in Southern Queensland Country bursting with local wine, peanuts, deli treats and their own famous fudge.
Image Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
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