Australia

Granite Belt Getaway

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I’m alive! Sorry for being so quiet lately, we just finally got internet in the new place this morning. Hopefully I will be back to blogging regularly now.

A few weeks ago, we had a long weekend with no plans. Friday morning Travis suggested we look up hotels or cabins in the nearby Granite Belt for Saturday night. I had visited the area with my girl friends last year and had been dying to go back with Travis. The granite belt is a few hours from Brisbane on the southern border of Queensland.

The town of Stanthorpe that I had stayed in before was all booked up, but Emily Anne recomended looking into Tenterfield since they had recently stayed there and loved it. We booked a last minute room at the Peter Allen Motor Inn. Peter Allen is actually from Tenterfield and they are super proud of it (fyi if you don’t know Peter Allen was a famous singer-songwriter who was famously married to Liza Minelli). It ended up working out perfectly though because a lot of the attractions on in between Stanthorpe and Tenterfield, so we were able to slowly make our way there all day Saturday.

We left around 8:30 that morning and within the first hour, we were pulled over at a road block for mandatory alcohol test.

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I really like how they have these here, I feel like you don’t have near as many drunk driving accidents.

After that minor setback we were back on the road towards our first destination- Queen Mary Falls Circuit. We had actually started down this path the last time but after growing impatient with the long windy road turned around. This time I was determined to stick it out. It is quite a trek through a bunch of fields and up a mountain, but once you get up there you start seeing turn offs for several different waterfalls.

We stopped at a couple smaller ones, but we had our eye on the big prize- Queen Mary Falls.  It was just a short walk from the carpark to the viewing deck and well worth the drive…

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It’s hard to really capture how massive the waterfall was, but if you look closely you can see the teeny tiny people at the base.

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After we failed at getting a decent selfie (should have brought the selfie stick), we headed back down towards Stanthorpe.

Our first stop was at Glen Castle where Travis picked up some port sippers who had been jonesing for. We were starting to get hungry, so we headed to Stanthorpe Cheese (which also hosts Jersey Girls Cafe) next for a cheese tasting and lunch. Unfortunately they had sold out of lunch, so we had to settle for a cheese tasting. I was happy to partake since I was going to be opting out of wine tastings all weekend. The woman spotted my belly right away and told me which ones to skip (ps not sure what that random purple glare is on the plate).
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We decided to head into Stanthorpe to stop by the visitor’s center and continue our quest for lunch. I couldn’t help but stop and take some snaps of the adorable park with the changing trees. I have never lived anywhere with a proper autumn so I have a particular fondness for those orange and yellow trees.

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We wandered into the tiny little town centre and were struck by a sign advertising $5 hamburgers, by far the cheapest I have ever seen in Australia. That probably should have been a red flag though, as mine came out topped with grated cheese and smothered inedible bbq sauce.

Travis opted for the flaming hot burger that was literally served with milk to cool you down. He was quickly named the manliest man in Stanthorpe by the waitstaff when he was able to eat it without breaking a sweat (he did later claim it was very hot even by Texas standards). Neither of us could finish our burgers a. because they were huge and b. because they were just not good. Note to self, Stanthorpe is not known for it’s culinary delights.

From there we started heading the direction of Tenterfield, making several pit stops for Travis to sample the local grapes.

First off was Jester Hill Wines. The property was so pretty and the food in the restaurant smelled delicious (we were really regretting that burger by then).

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Trev did a tasting, picked up a couple bottles (so I could have my own tasting in a few months) and we wandered the property taking in the gorgeous fall weather.

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Just a knocked up chick swinging in a vineyard, nothing to see here…

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He had to get a pic with a granite boulder since we were in the Granite Belt.

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Second stop was one winery I had been to before, but was highly rated- Ballandean Estate Wines. Apparently it is the oldest winery in the Granite Belt and I would love to go back and eat in their gorgeous restaurant- The Barrel Room.

Wine and tractors, two of his favorite things (no, I am not joking).  After a lovely, long chat with the sommelier, we headed next door to Golden Grove Wines. Unfortunately we got there right before closing so we didn’t get to spend too much time exploring their property.
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We figured that was a sign we should start heading on to Tenterfield to settle in for the evening. It was a quick drive across the Queensland border into New South Wales and we were in the birthplace of Australia. We checked into the Peter Allen Motor Inn and got the best room key ever.

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The motel was really clean and spacious and I would totally recommend it. We rested then took a stroll around town before getting dinner at the super trendy Commercial Boutique Hotel. The dinner restaurant was all booked out so we enjoyed a nice meal in the pub section. The hotel was obviously remodeled and designed recently and it was really well done.

The next morning we took a stroll around town and decided that Tenterfield was really stinking cute and I want to live there.

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After breakfast at a local cafe we headed off on our next adventure- Bald Rock National Park. Even though the physio had told me to cut back on walking I couldn’t resist passing up this beauty after EmilyAnne told me about it. I have SO many pictures from the hike that I will do a separate post on it later, but it was SO fun!
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Travis wanted to continue you on and do some more hikes in Girraween National Park but my back was saying no way at that stage. Instead I just made him pull over to take a picture with this sign.

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Then we stopped at the last winery of the trip and probably my favorite property- Boirrean. It was pretty tucked away in the country and was absolutely gorgeous. The cellar door itself was just a no frills type shed and Travis awkwardly asked the winemaker if he was in the middle of remodeling, to which he replied “nope, it just always looks like this.” It was a red wine only winery which I thought was unique and had several “strange bird” wines that we hadn’t seen anywhere else.

I’m seriously obsessed with Autumn in the Granite Belt. ???

A photo posted by Courtney Alkek (@courtneyalkek) on

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But my favorite was the colorful trees lining the driveway up to the cellar door. I spent quite some time walking around practicing my iPhone photog skills (our lens to our real camera is being repaired in the US currently).

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We made a couple more stops at antique shops and for lunch at Vincenzio’s at the big apple. Trav didn’t feel then need to be photographed in front of one of Australia’s big things, so here’s one of me from last year.

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Just like last year, we also stopped at Sutton’s Cidery and juice factory. Travis was a little skeptical of doing an apple juice tasting at first, but in the end he was won over as well by Sutton’s preservative-free, sugar-free, pure apple blends. I also found out they sell their juices at the locally sourced grocery right by our house. I already flew through our two bottles, so I am going to need to restock soon. Since I am not having wine right now, my drink of choice is a glass of Suttons over ice. It also really gets Baby A a movin’ in the evenings.

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On the way back into town we stopped in the little town of Atula and stocked up on produce at their local market. We had a big box full and it was only $16. We might need to start making the hour trip to do our shopping for the week…

Well that was our quick trip to the Granite Belt, we can’t wait to go back as a family of 3!


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  • Everything in the Granite Belt is so beautiful, and I love that y’all just decided to go on a whim! I don’t know how you’re handling the no drinking while you’re going to all those amazing wineries! I would definitely be happier with the scenery, but I would want a glass of wine so badly!

    • Haha it really hasn’t been that bad, I just take a sniff and I’m good. I have plenty of catching up to do in a few months though.

  • Ah Courtney! Everything about this is beyond beautiful ; those reflections, the Autumn colours, the blue skies… I could go on. What an amazing place to spend some time 🙂 Thanks for sharing some blue sky, as it’s a rainy Autumn day here! hehe.

  • You definitely get major wife points for going to all those vineyards without being able to try any! At least the scenery was to die for though. I’m glad you managed to make the hike, it looks incredible. Looking forward to the post on it!

    • That’s what I keep saying, I do love the scenery at wineries though so I really don’t mind.

  • i am so glad you are exploring so much – yay! i also know the struggle with the intense disappoint of a crappy burger – dang it! again, i am still impressed you venture to vineyards and are not drinking – it would be way too tempting for me!

    • Haha I have had a few sips but it feels really weird and doesn’t make me want to have anymore.