Explore a heritage-listed rainforest
Rise and shine, it’s roadtrip time! Load up the car with gear, hit the Cunningham Highway and head for the Main Range National Park, which links the Scenic Rim in the east to the range of Gondwana lined peaks in the west. The Main Range National Park is a bushwalker and campers delight so pack a tent and some sleeping bags and camp at one of 20 dedicated camping locations in the area. Pick your preferred spot and set up a base camp for walks through rainforest circuits, bird watching expeditions and hikes up Mount Cordeaux or Mount Mitchell. Also worth checking out is the Pioneer Graves Track and Governors Chair Lookout for a bit of extra sightseeing.
Chase some waterfalls
Waterfalls are equal parts soothing and awe-inspiring, and what better way to get into the holiday vibe than by taking a leisurely drive past three of the region’s best?Main Range National Park boasts a bunch of spectacular waterfalls within hiking distance. Queen Mary Falls drop 40 metres into Spring Creek and is a must-see destination for any nature lover. Browns Falls is a smaller waterfall that plunges over basalt columns, just a short hike from the Browns Picnic Area. Daggs Falls are conveniently located roadside, with a handy lookout on hand to give you an unimpeded view of the drop.
Make a picturesque pit stop
A long day of hiking and travelling can be draining, so if you aren’t much of a camper it’s always wise to shack up at a spot where you can recharge and prepare for the next day’s travel. The Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Cottages offers breathtaking views of Condamine Gorge, Wilson’s Peak and the forests of the Border Ranges. The cafe serves up delicious cuisine using local produce and the cottages are self-contained and perfect for an overnight stay. If you’re keen to stick around, the Killarney View Cabins and Caravan Park is a humble and comfortable accommodation option located on five acres of land, boasting scenic views of the mountains surrounding Killarney.
Take in the stellar scenery
If you enjoy watching the sun rise, wake up early and head to Carrs Lookout (a short stroll from the Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Cottages, if you stayed overnight), which offers breathtaking views of Cambanoora Gorge. Watch the sun’s rays hit the misty gullies and treetops while you enjoy a hot coffee. If you enjoy the simple pleasures of taking in a beautiful landscape, there’s no better way to while away an hour or two in the early morning.
Quintessential pub atmosphere
Situated in the heart of the Southern Downs, the Killarney Hotel is one of the best spots in the area to enjoy local hospitality, a hearty feed and a cold drink. There’s something novel about walking into an old-fashioned bar, ordering a counter-meal lunch or dinner and knocking back a cold beer off the tap whilst chatting to the locals. Yarns told can be sometimes longer than found in your grandma’s knitting basket. Tucker is served every day plus there’s regular live entertainment, all adding to why the Killarney Hotel is packed with great atmosphere and the community’s hub.
Nosh on quality fare
One of the finest eateries in the area is Bluebird Kitchen and Bar, an American-style restaurant that offers meals made with the freshest local produce and warm and welcoming service. Established in early 2015 by Warwick locals Jim and Katie Osborn, Bluebird offers breakfast, lunch and dinner within an industrial interior as well as plenty of al fresco dining. If the thought of brisket burgers, bacon sandwiches, barbecue boards, prawn and smoked pork sausage spiced rice, crispy pork hock, rib eye on the bone and corn chips has you salivating, then you’ve found your foodie destination. For a truly unique dining experience, it’s hard to go past Belle Vue Cafe. This cute and kitschy establishment boasts more than 100 years of history – its retro fit-out, welcoming staff and rotating selection of hearty eats will have you swooning long after you leave.
Roses and Rodeos
This sub-section may sound like the title of a Lana Del Rey song, but it’s actually two things that Warwick are famous for – and the latter is largely thanks to the Warwick Campdraft and Rodeo. Every year for the last full week in October, horsemen and women gather for seven days of action-packed campdrafting and rodeo riding. Campdrafting is a uniquely Australian sport that involves strong horsemanship skills as man and horse work cattle. When you combine this level of competition with the adrenaline-pumping Rodeo – where you will see Australia’s top cowboys versus Australia’s best bucking livestock – it’s impossible not to get into the spirit.
Embrace the farm life
One of the best things about escaping the city is the chance to get a bit, well, country – and what better way to indulge this than with a farm visit? A stay at Bestbrook Mountain Retreat is the perfect way to clear your mind, try some new things and just have a ripper time. Weekends and school holidays are a prime time to visit, as the Bestbrook family’s very own Cyril will show you the ropes of farm life – think boomerang throwing, horse riding, butter churning and damper eating. Another countryside connection comes in the form of the Gleneden Family Farm, an ethical produce haven that provides a proper inside look at farming practises. Book in a visit and you can try traditional farm skills and kitchen crafts workshops, or for those less hands-on you can take in a display or just savour the scenery.
View some local art or yarnbombing in July
In the heart of Warwick is one of the area’s most vibrant cultural hubs – the Warwick Art Gallery. Drawing upon the rich artistic heritage of the Southern Downs, the gallery identifies, promotes and celebrates the local artistic endeavour. Travelling exhibitions stop in Warwick regularly, complementing the local work hung in the main gallery and foyer space. The Warwick Art Gallery also hosts community festivals and events, further bolstering the local cultural scene. If you are looking for a date to plan your trip around, we suggest visiting for Jumpers and Jazz in July, which will see trees and buildings across Warwick ‘yarn bombed’ and adorned in snug yarn accoutrements. The art gallery serves as a base of operations for the yarnbombing, where a large portion of the knitted decorations are made. The event takes place on July 19–29.
Put your feet up in style
The weekend is winding up and you have one more night to kill before heading back to reality. R on the Downs is a luxury accommodation option in Yangan, a two-hour drive from Brisbane. If you are curious about the name, the R stands for romance, rest and relaxation – qualities provided in spades! R on the Downs offers luxury self-contained cottages as well as a hosted bed and breakfast experience in its Grand Federation Homestead suite. The cottages offer panoramic views of Swanfels Valley rustic fireplaces, private verandas, barbecue facilities and full kitchens. For more adults-only accommodation, Abbey of the Roses is a delightful choice – the heritage-listed country manor (circa 1891, we might add) has been renovated to include all of the modern comforts without losing its truly unique charm. Lounge by an open fire or get one of the friendly staff to arrange a private dinner – however you play it, this building will stun you.
The Roadtrip Series is a collaboration between The Weekend Edition and Southern Queensland Country. If you are keen to plan more weekend getaways, check out some other guides in The Roadtrip Series – Toowoomba, Stanthorpe, Crows Nest and The Bunya Mountains, Ravensbourne and Hampton.