In what could be called the sleeper town of the country, Stanthorpe is known and passed through by many people… but have you ever parked up and explored this gem of a destination? With luxury Airbnbs to stay in, award-winning wines and their sprawling vineyards, artisan farm-to-table gourmet restaurants and breathtaking hiking trails and scenery, why not hop in the car for a memorable weekend (to say the least). Read on Traveller, here’s your ultimate guide to the true home of the Big Apple, Stanthorpe, from accommodations to restaurants and things to do.
Accommodation in Stanthorpe
Ok, we are really dialing up the romance here. Our favourite, Winnows Rise has been set up by its super hosts to be a tranquil and perfect place to reconnect with that special someone or completely disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The hand-crafted wood-fired pizza oven is perfectly placed for an easy dinner, while the stone hot tub overlooking speckled pastures and views of the Great Dividing Range is the perfect place for a glass of wine. . There are also heaps of indoor comforts, like cozy interiors and luxurious linen bathrobes and sheets, plus the perfect cottage kitchen. Book here.
Briar Rose Cottages – Silky Oak
Picturesque and delicious, The Silky Oak cottage is about as comfortable as it gets. Downstairs you will find the kitchen, bathroom and living room, while just up a spiral staircase is a loft bedroom with a queen bed which has French doors opening onto a private balcony. Swoon. As an added bonus, you can bring your four-legged friend to The Silky Oak cottage and you’re just a short walk from Stanthorpe’s shops, cafes and restaurants. You can book it here.
Bridge St Cottage
For a stay straight out of Country Style magazine, head to Bridge St Cottage in the heart of Stanthorpe. A perfect two bedroom cottage, you’ll be toasty warm with the open brick fireplace in this place. The kitchen is straight out of our real life dreams and the bathroom, well, let’s just say it went straight to our Pinterest boards. To see for yourself what it’s all about, book here.
Shard on Lyra
If you have many guests accompanying you, The shine on Lyra is where it is, and boy is it radiant. Choc-a-block full of country charm, this stay is nestled in beautiful (convenient) wine country just 20 minutes from Stanthorpe. Enjoy a delicious BBQ on the large deck as you watch the sunset roll over the hills, or snuggle up and enjoy the beautiful indoor fireplace while drinking a bottle of wine picked up during your explorations. Book here.
A Queenslander lovingly restored by super hosts, Davadi Cottage is the countryside escape without going totally into the bush. Located in town just a five minute walk from the main street, this three bedroom stay is perfect for every member of the family (or group of friends). Airbnb has over 100 5-star reviews, so need we say more? Well, we can say with certainty that we lather the bathroom, her clawfoot tub in particular. Book your stay here.
Things To Do In Stanthorpe
Hiking in Girraween National Park
As for scenic hikes, Girraween National Park is second to none. Towering boulders and even underground walkways await you along with more than 10 other trails. Hike among native wildflowers, along bush streams, between huge balancing boulders, through eucalyptus forests, and even explore water-carved underground streams. The pyramid is a must – the strenuous walk up to the massive granite dome to take in the stunning views of the park is well worth it.
Sip your way through the best vineyards in the Granite Belt
Ok, yes, we know you can’t wait to get to the Stanthorpe Vineyards section. The wineries and ensuing wine tastings are truly the stars of the show in this country town. There are vineyards upon vineyards in this patch of woods, but we’ve narrowed it down to a few of our top picks.
heart in balance
Taken over by experienced entrepreneur, Greg Kentish, Balancing Heart is undoubtedly a must-visit winery not only in Stanthorpe but throughout Australia. Free wine tastings are offered, as well as full-fledged wine tasting classes in the cellar on Saturdays. Need some food? The gang has a wood-fired pizza oven where they toss out pizzas that give the people of the big city a run for their money. Snuggle up with a blanket by the bonfire and watch the sun go down, along with your desire to return to normal life.
Domain of Girraween
Lisa and Steve Messiter are the geniuses behind Girraween Estate, a vineyard that has produced over eight award-winning drops over the past 10 years. The specialty here is the sparkling and the stunning views over their vast vineyards and rolling hills. Reviews from all over the web rave about Girraween Estate, and nearly all of them recommend making sure you stop by the vineyard if you’re in the area, and we agree. When it’s finally time to go, join the Girraween Wine Club to have their award-winning wines delivered to your doorstep.
The wines of the Ballandean estate
Everything happens at Ballandean Estate, whether you want to sit all afternoon and late into the evening or just have a quick tasting and continue your Stanthorpe adventure. For a familiar wine tasting experience, opt for the 45-minute session where you can choose the wines that suit your palate from the team’s extensive list, or allow the staff to take you on a personalized wine journey. The gourmet platter and paddle tasting session in the new Barrelroom Wine Lounge is a step up, however – score an overflowing charcuterie platter filled with local produce and paired vino flights that are sure to be heavenly.
Walk down the scenic driveway to Tobin Wines, and you can’t help but hear Luigi Boccherini’s Minuetto in your head. If you are indeed a wine lover, this is the place for you. The professionals at Tobin Wines take pride not only in their drops, but also in their excellent way of explaining wine terms to their visitors. Small details aside, the wine tasting shed is a pretty cozy place to spend an afternoon and they’re very generous with tastings, so you’re bound to be tipsy enough to buy a few bottles to take home. .
Eat your weight in artisanal cheeses
Sound the trumpet, there’s a whole cheese factory in Stanthorpe to eat. Look for the cow on the roof of the Jersey Girls Cafe and loosen the belt to try the cheese tasting platters ($5 to try 14 kinds of cheese and three spreads and relishes) at Stanthorpe cheese. If you’re a little hungrier, or just want to dial in the deliciousness, opt for a toastie where you can choose your type of bread, cheese, toppings and spreads sourced from local producers.
Climb the Bald Rock
Ok, you’ve found a new favorite wine and eaten your weight in local artisan foods and cheeses – it’s time to cut some of it out. Head to Bald Rock National Park to climb to the Bald Rock Dome, Australia’s largest exposed granite boulder. Catch the coolest breeze of your life and take in the remarkable surroundings from the top. Give you reserve a spot, you can also pitch a tent and camp in this national park.
Stanthorpe Restaurants, Bars and Cafes
As if you needed more convincing to get out, Stanthorpe is a bit of a huge foodie hub. With the perfect soil to grow virtually anything, all local produce is among the best in the state. This is particularly evident at Restaurant in Essen. A women-owned and operated gourmet spot on the city’s main thoroughfare, Essen offers a weekly changing menu, featuring a selection of the finest quality fresh produce from the Granite Belt. It’s BYO only, so be sure to grab a bottle of your favorite wine from one of the local wineries to mull over the night. Essen has indeed been advertised, with the place sometimes being booked months in advance, so securing your reservation in advance is a must.
Granite Belt Brewery
Got enough wine? As you would halfway through your gatho uni, simply swap with beer. Walk in: Granite Belt Brewery. Granite Belt Brewery is Stanthorpe’s premier brewery, crafting refreshing, flavorful craft beers and ciders for over 10 years. A tasting palette is mandatory, allowing you to sample more than 10 different beers and ciders brewed on site. The brasserie restaurant is also a favorite among travelers and locals alike, which is well justified after a look at the extensive and delicious menu.
Located in the middle of a working orchard, La Ferme de Sutton is a must visit. Award-winning cider is Sutton’s name of the game, but their apple pie has earned them household name status. Almost all of the varieties grown at Sutton are included in the pies, which the team says is labor intensive. They bake up to 800kg of apples a week and enough buttery homemade pastries for over 160 apple pies that somehow take you back to your own grandma’s kitchen with every bite. Sutton’s Shed, the little cafe that serves up all this goodness, also serves up other homemade classics like pies and sausage rolls with the crispiest pastry known to man, classic farmhouse scones and all kinds of other products, condiments and ciders grown and made on site.
Adorned with a spectacular wisteria blanket, Heavenly Chocolate is worth the drive from Girraween National Park for its range of chocolates, gourmet treats, hot chocolates and coffees which you can enjoy in the bountiful outdoor garden. It’s downright decadent and sure to be one of the most surprising stops on your trip.
Brinx Deli & Cafe
It’s almost impossible to miss the hot pink Sign Brinx Deli and Cafe and trust us you’ll be glad you didn’t. A lively cafe with a stylish interior, Brinx is your one-stop-shop for classic brunches with specialty coffee. Drop by for breakfast for generously sized bacon and eggs with everything, or the French toast to fuel you for your day of adventures.
Do you like a country getaway? Check out our guide to Toowoomba here.
Image Credit: Airbnb, City List Archives