An easy two hour escape from Brisbane, the Southern Downs and Granite Belt is just the place to enjoy spring, with sunny days, stunning nature spots and perfectly cool nights.
Awash with blooming flowers, seasonal markets, quaint accommodation and gourmet local food and wine, here are 11 of the region's spring must do's:
Featuring spectacular granite outcrops, Girraween, meaning 'place of flowers' lives up to its name in spring and summer as delicate wildflowers emerge beneath the towering granite boulders. A favourite of bushwalkers, campers and photographers, with great camping spots and a choice of easy walks through to the popular steep Pyramid climb.
The country roads are blooming beautiful during spring and summer, with glorious wildflowers along the sides of roads, blossoming fruit trees and vibrant coloured vineyards. There are 10 Scenic Drives to choose from including the Sunflower Route which transforms into a fabulous spectacle of yellow from late January onwards.
Seasonal Feast Markets
Bring a basket to stock up on the region's amazing fresh seasonal produce at these must visit markets in the Warwick Art Gallery courtyard on the 3rd Saturday of the month (9am-12) or Stanthorpe CBD's Farley St Piazza every Friday (8am-2pm). There are also plenty of roadside stalls in the region to pick up some fresh seasonal fruit and veges en route.
Known for its rugged wilderness, with spectacular gorges and craggy ridges, this wild beauty spot is ideal for keen four wheel drivers and campers. Along the Severn River are waterholes suitable for swimming, canoeing and fishing, while relics of its pastoral and mining heritage can be found on its myriad of walking tracks, remote trails and 4WD tracks.
With stunning World Heritage listed valleys and peaks, flowing creeks and waterfalls this north-east park offers breathtaking views and walks. Queen Mary Falls is a popular daytrip destination with ample picnic spots and views of the spectacular waterfall and, from late October to November, fireflies and glow worms are a dusk attraction.
Gourmet Cafes & Pantries
Must visit for locally made products and delicious gourmet food are Jamworks Gourmet Foods Café & Larder (stock up on amazing jams and preserves and enjoy a bite to eat) and The Bramble Patch (a food-lover's paradise offering 50+ preserves) with a garden café specializing in desserts , set in picturesque rolling hills above Glen Alpin.
Queensland's leading wine-making region boasts unique stunning countryside and a host of cellar doors open to the public for tasting and wine-buying, including Symphony Hill, Ballandean Estate, Golden Grove Estate, Girraween Estate, Ridgemill, Robert Channon, Savina Lane, Summit Estate, Robinson Family Vineyard, Twisted Gum and Whiskey Gully.
Just off the New England Highway, Ashbern Farms is open to visitors for strawberry picking from October-May, as well as the option to buy them fresh from the café. Dotted throughout the Southern Downs during spring-summer can be found fresh produce stalls perfect for that car stop to pick up some seasonal local fruit.
Beer & Cider
Not just famous for its wine, the Granite Belt is home to a smattering of outstanding microbreweries including Stanthorpe's Granite Belt Brewery (which serves delicious bar food), nano-brewery Brass Monkey Brewhouse, as well as Sutton's Apple & Juice Factory & Cidery, where you can sample local cider, juices and even home-made apple pie.
The city of roses and rodeos comes into full bloom as Rose City in spring, with the streets a burst of colour and fragrant scents, making it the perfect place to stop and smell the roses. Keep in with the rose theme and book a night at the gorgeous historical landmark Abbey of the Roses Country House Manor, the perfect base to explore the 150 yr old city.
It may be far from the sea but Southern Downs has a plethora of beautiful waterways, from dams to rivers, where visitors can swim, sail, water-ski or try their hand at fishing. Some of the best are picturesque Leslie, Storm King and Glenlyon Dams, the impressive Condamine and Severn Rivers and Stanthorpe's pretty Quart Pot Creek.