Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt Wine Region of Queensland

Part of the fun of moving to a different country is in exploring your new surroundings. Venture away from any one of our major cities and you will soon find yourself in a countryside littered with small towns.

Easily the smallest town I’ve ever stayed in was Kunghur; if ever a place could be described as having ‘nothing there’, this was it. Just some rolling hills, scattered housing and a population of around 200 people.

Kunghur was our first so-called ninja-break, this weekend we went on our second, this one took us to Stanthorpe.

Stanthorpe signStanthorpe

I liked Stanthorpe; well, it’s hard not to admire a town with a population of only 5000 or so that still finds room for four pubs in the High Street…

Stanthorpe pub Stanthorpe pub Stanthorpe pub

Stanthorpe pub It had a cute post office as well…

Stanthorpe post office

Stanthorpe post office Mrs Bob and Stacey liked Stanthorpe because of the wineries that surround it. There were 23 listed on the map we had, apparently there are something like 50 wineries in the region. Most of these were open for wine tastings and their favourites were Golden Grove Estate…

Golden Grove Estate

Golden Grove Estate Grape vines just don’t look so great in the middle of winter, do they?

And Robert Channon Wines…

Robert Channon Wines

Robert Channon WinesIt wasn’t all wineries though, I thoroughly enjoyed sampling the beers available from the local Granite Belt Brewery…

Granite Belt BreweryWe were also offered a tour around the brewery by the super friendly owner Geoff; as somebody who brews his own beer in the garage, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Geoff brews the beer himself and he even bottles it by hand. Maybe it’s not too late for me to start my own Bob’s Brewery after all?

The Granite Belt is an area on the Great Dividing Range that gets its name, you won’t be surprised to hear, because of the abundance of granite rock in the area.

Granite rocks

Granite rocks A combination of the climate and the soil create unique growing and ripening conditions, making the Granite Belt ideal for those wineries and also apple growers. 60% of all of Queensland’s wine comes from the area along with virtually all of the state’s apple crop.

With it being around 800 metres above sea level, it can get quite cold in the winter and is one of the few places in Queensland where it has actually snowed, as it did last year. One of the main reasons we decided to go to Stanthorpe in the middle of winter was to look for snow, but this weekend it was unusually warm there for the time of the year.

It was sunny with daytime temperatures of around 15° to 17°C, so the nearest we came to snow was this fake snowman made out of old tyres…

fake snowmanWhich brings me to the girls, what did they like about Stanthorpe?

Well, they loved the kangaroos that came to visit us at the house at dawn and dusk…

kangaroo kangaroo kangaroo kangaroo

kangarooThey had great fun feeding the ducks…

ducksAnd messing around by the river…

riverWhat we loved as parents was that it gets them away from their iPhones and iPads for a while and allows them to enjoy the crisp outdoor air of the winter countryside.

Everybody enjoyed the drive though, which was a quite manageable two a half hours each way from Brisbane without, if I remember correctly, passing through a single set of traffic lights. The highlight of the journey, without doubt, was driving through Cunninghams Gap, which crosses the Great Dividing Range…

Cunninghams Gap Cunninghams Gap Cunninghams Gap Cunninghams Gap

Cunninghams GapAnother thoroughly enjoyable ninja-break, here’s to the next one.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Warwick Wakefield August 2, 2016, 3:51 pm |

    Hi Bob,
    I stayed in the Stanthorpe area for a few weeks when I was a teenager.
    The people are salt-of-the-earth.
    In those days, as well as the long established Anglo orchardists, there were many Italian migrants, mostly from Sicily. They all worked hard, the men, women and children.Terrific people.
    In those days they grew all manner of stone fruit, but there were no vineyards.
    Well, in those days not many Australians drank wine.

    And in the winter it was Penguinnian cold.
    The wind! The frost! The barely half-insulated houses! The uninsulated little schoolhouses scattered around the bush!
    I’m sure things have greatly improved since then.
    And even though the Stanthorpe region was chilly, it was cozy in comparison with the mountain towns just south. Tenterfield ( the home of Peter Allen’s father, The Tenterfield Saddler) and Walcha and Guyra are cold, cold, cold.

    • BobinOz August 2, 2016, 6:08 pm |

      Yes, I suspect that in those days the only drink was a cold tinnie of beer, none of that fancy wine stuff back then.

      I’m sure there have been many changes over the years, but I’m not sure the houses are one of them. We stayed in a wooden detached on acreage, and even though the weather was particularly mild for this time year, the log fire was struggling to warm the house up.

      I chucked log after log after log on it, but it still couldn’t manage to warm up anything further than a couple of meters away. Nice place though, we would definitely go again.

  • Peter Nonnenmacher August 1, 2016, 6:34 pm |

    Hi Bob, thanks for your reply. I realized my post could be misleading when I said
    Girraween-Bald Rock NP. The district is known as this name but the actual
    Bald Rock is to the east of Girraween camping area. Enough to say they are two
    separate places.

    The border runs almost north-south at this point and Bald Rock sits virtually on
    or just over the border in NSW. Girraween camping area with ranger station and
    amenities (QLD) has its own impressive lump of rock called Pyramid rock.

    Girraween camping ground can be accessed from Wyberba on the
    New England highway 27 k’s south of Stanthorpe.

    On Google Earth those little icons of people’s personal pictures can be
    misleading also. There must be a dozen pictures of different balancing rocks
    but there is only one official ‘Balancing Rock’ on the map, out near Mt. Norman.

    Peter N.

    • BobinOz August 2, 2016, 12:59 am |

      No, I don’t think it was misleading, but thanks for clearing that up. Still can’t believe I missed it though, I would have loved to have taken a look when I was down that way. Cheers, Bob

  • Peter Nonnenmacher July 29, 2016, 11:42 am |

    Hi Bob, I’ve been visiting your web page for a few years now. Always find it interesting.
    Helps remind me of how lucky we are living in the best little country in the world.
    I really admire your enthusiasm for it.
    I had to comment on Stanthorpe; I camp for a few days when I’ve got time at nearby Girraween-Bald Rock NP, usually at the end of August because of the wild flowers
    starting to appear. Spectacular yellow of the Wattle against the rugged landscape
    and also amazing views when you climb up Bald rock.
    It’s so peaceful.There’s hot showers and you can have a roaring fire to keep warm;
    although these days you’ve got to bring your own wood. Lots of different walks
    with plenty of birds and wildlife around.
    I tasted Mead for the first time at one of those vineyards you mentioned.
    Peter N.

    • BobinOz July 31, 2016, 9:20 pm |

      It is interesting that you mentioned Bald Rock, because rather stupidly I had no idea it was there. We went down to Ballandean for a wine tasting, so we couldn’t have been further than, I don’t know, 20 km from it? And we didn’t see it?

      The highest granite rock formation in the whole of the southern hemisphere, and we missed it? I really can’t believe that’s what I did, but I did. Looks like we are going to have to go back again at some point.

      Anyway, I’m chuffed that my website helps to remind you of how great this country is, although by the sound of it you are making a pretty good job of making sure you don’t forget it for yourself.

      For anyone who reads this and doesn’t know anything about Bald Rock, just like I didn’t know anything about Bald Rock until Friday afternoon when I was doing my post for that day, you might like to visit…

      Thanks Peter, hope you find the time to visit Girraween again this August.

      Cheers, Bob

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