A couple of weekends ago my friend Sara and I headed down the Cunningham Highway to Stanthorpe. We were going to visit our friend Ali, who is studying medicine at the hospital down there, as well as visit some wineries and many of the other interesting places Stanthorpe has to offer.
First, lets get the important stuff out of the way… What do you pack for a weekend in Stanthorpe?
I’m one of those people who make a lot of lists – lists before bed, lists for things to buy and lists for what to pack. So here is my packing list for my weekend in Stanthorpe…
Outfit 1: Jeans, Sportsgirl pocket tee (khaki), tartan drape cardigan, thongs.
Comfy jeans and t-shirt for the 3 hour drive down. Thongs because it’s so much easier to drive in bare feet, especially over long distances and a cardigan in case it gets chilly.
Outfit 2: Jeans, Sportsgirl pocket tee (grey), khaki & gold multi-strand necklace, Portmans leather & knit jacket, combat boots.
Jeans again, and the jacket, because it was a little chilly, well mostly windy but it’s kind of the same thing. A basic tee dressed up with a necklace because we were visiting some wineries and the boots because we were doing a bit of walking.
Outfit 3: Peach studded shorts, white Stussy singlet, khaki boyfriend shirt, running shoes.
Perfect mix of warm clothes to combat the wind and cooler clothes because we were going to get physical.
Important things to remember when packing for Stanthorpe. One, it has weather like Melbourne – you never know what it’s going to do. And two, the nights get cold so pack a hoodie or something similar to cosy up in.
So, Stanthorpe is wine country but there is so much to see. Here’s a run down of how we spent our weekend, it doesn’t cover everything there is to do, but it does cover the basics. Start here and you’ll have a great time and definitely want to go back again.
We headed out on Friday afternoon, managing to beat most of the rush hour traffic. The trip through Cunningham’s Gap was a little slow due to road works, but we made good time.
We got into Stanthorpe around 5:30 and made a bee-line for the hospital where Ali is staying. She’s staying in nurse’s quarters-style accomodation. It was really cool, we got to have a kind of American college dorm experience. There were communal bathrooms and everything.
So we went to bed fairly early and got up at 7 the next morning to go for a walk along the creek that runs through the middle of town. It was really pretty, even though it’s a bit bedraggled from the floods. Stanthorpe lies on the Granite Belt so there are all these amazing rocky outcrops that pop out of the ground and run along the edges of the creek.
After that it was off to visit some wineries. First though, we stopped at the Jamworks and tried dozens of really nice jams and chutneys and relishes. I bought a four pack with Lemon Butter, Lemon and Lime Butter, Passionfruit Butter and Banana Butter. The Passionfruit Butter is amazing. I used to have Lemon Butter all the time when I was it high school until the Coles near us stopped stocking it so I was super psyched to find some, especially some that tasted this good.
Next stop was the Symphony Hill Wines where we tried some pretty good wines. It was definitely my favourite of the trip. Of course, there are dozens of wineries in and around Stanthorpe so there was no way we were going to cover them all in one weekend. But that just means there’s some left for next time. We also stopped at Ballandean Estate Wines and Felsberg Winery which has an amazing view.
After that we went out to the Bramble Patch, a berry farm where they make icecream fresh for you by mixing the berries with vanilla icecream. I had blackberry icecream and it was A-MAZING. Strawberry and blueberry is also a pretty good combination. Of course, you can always try every flavour for yourself.
Next on the agenda was Olive Grove Estate, which as you can probably guess, has olives. They had all sorts of amazing kinds that I’d never tasted before, so I went to town. The good thing is, I can still say I’ve never met an olive I don’t like. We then drove to the other side of Stanthorpe and went to Sutton’s Apple Farm where they make fresh apple juice. You can buy a box of 9 bottles for $40. Or you can buy 2 boxes for $70. So if you’re going with friends, buy them together and save yourself some money. The apple juice is well worth it though. Definitely try the apple juice with ginger, it has just enough ginger to make it taste great, and not make you cringe. Also, the apple juice with lemon is nice and refreshing.
We also went to the Cheese Factory which has some amazing cheeses to sample. Make sure you get your ‘Repeat Offender’ card if you buy anything. It entitles you to 10% off any products you buy in the future. And we went to Castleglen Liqueurs and Fudge which is (surprisingly) a big castle in the middle of a field. Inside there are just hundreds and hundreds of bottles of liqueurs in every flavour imaginable and in all sorts of weird shaped bottles. There were ones shaped like trumpets. The guy also makes fudge out of the liqueurs. I bought a coconut and musk flavour and a hazelnut and pecan flavour.
Stanthorpe really is good if you like eating and drinking. You get free samples of absolutely everything!
Sunday we got up early again and went to a bakery in town where we got a macadamia and chocolate pull-apart that Ali assured us was the best thing we would ever eat – and it was! I have never tasted anything that amazing. You get it from a small bakery next to the sculpture in the middle of town. Just follow the windchimes and you’ll find it. They don’t make it very often but if you order it you can pick it up by 8 the next morning.
We took it to Girraween National Park and ate it on the granite flats. If you’re going during summer then pack your swimmers because you can swim in the pools formed around the granite rocks. Then we did a 4.5km (return) walk to a place called Castle Rocks. Look out for the giant rock that looks like, well, an ass (see picture below). The walk didn’t take very long so we decide to do another short one to what’s called the Granite Arch. It’s three giant boulders balanced in an arch. We climbed up on one of the boulders for a while and just sat in the sun out of the wind. Then we explored the granite flats and pools for a while. There are heaps of walks you can do around Girraween, all different levels of difficulty. There’s one called Pyramid Rocks which looks incredibly difficult because it seems to be mostly vertical. The park really is beautiful and there is just so much to explore. You could spend days there and still not discover everything it has to offer.
On the way back to town we stopped at Mason’s Winery for lunch. It is in a beautiful location and the resturant is top quality. We got entrees cause they were cheaper but they turned out to be close to main meal size which was great for us. The food was pretty spectacular. I recommend the quesadillas, bruchetta and tangine.
All in all it was a great weekend. I highly recommend a trip if you’re considering getting out of town. For Brisbanites, it’s close enough for a day trip but well worth the money if you decide to stay a couple of nights. For those of you further a-field, there are B&B’s all over the place and in every price range.
So head to wine country. Even if you don’t drink, there’s plenty of other things to keep you occupied. -C