Clean mountain air, stunning vistas, lauded eateries, fresh farm gate produce, country pubs and wineries and walking in national parks…need we say more?
Set off from Toowoomba along the New England Highway, once you reach Highfields you’ve hit the start of ‘ahhhh country’ – the High Country Hamlets – a string of villages clustered each side of a particularly pretty 30 odd-km stretch of the highway between Highfields and Crows Nest.
You can picnic, walk and birdwatch in Ravensbourne National Park.
The soaring views from Gus Beutel Lookout near the Cedar Block are particularly magical at sunrise and sunset, but lovely at any time.
Spread out a picnic under the giant figs, or cook a barbie and enjoy the serenity.
Don’t miss: Palm Creek Circuit walk – It’s a manageable 3.6km, taking in a beautiful stand of Picabeen Palms or if you’re up for something a little more challenging the Buaraba Creek trail is just over 6km return and is doable in around 2 hours.
Crows Nest National Park just 10 minutes out of Crows Nest, offers easy creek-side walking through eucalypt forest to Crows Nest Falls and plenty of pretty picnic spots and several cool natural pools to soothe your feet in after a hike.
Lake Cooby is stunning at sunrise when the dawn mist hangs over the water and the birds are at their most active.
Take your binoculars and walk the lake’s edge track at Loveday Cove to spot koalas, wallabies, water birds and bush birds, cook breakfast on a BBQ, launch your canoe or throw in a line for freshwater fish.
Savour Local Eateries
Tucked away at Crows Nest Caravan Park, new eatery Hidden Cocina, is a hidden gem serving home-style Latin American dishes – get ready for authentic tapas, nachos, burritos and decadent chocolate churros lovingly made by chefs Juan and Alba.
Image credit: Little Grey Box at Bunnyconnellen
For a wine and olive tasting followed by a delicious weekend lunch accompanied by live acoustic music and the warm hospitality of the Stewart-Moore family, book in at Bunnyconnellen Olive Grove, just north of Crows Nest.
Meringandan Hotel is renowned for its friendly service and generous pub meals – juicy steaks are a specialty! Find a table in the leafy beer garden and when you’ve finished eating ask to see the animal farm out back.
You need to set aside several hours to linger over lunch overlooking the vineyard and the peaceful Lilyvale Valley at new cellar door Rosalie House.
You can also drop in for a coffee or to share a cheese board and a glass of their fine wine – but be warned, you may find yourself ordering lunch!
When you’ve had your fill of relaxing in nature, check out the works of local artists at Crows Nest Regional Art Gallery, take in Highfields Pioneer Village to learn about the local pioneering history or browse the homewares at That Shop and Flavours of San Cris.
Rest your weary head in the comfort and style of the High Country Hamlets.
Wake to the smell of fresh coffee brewing; enjoy the crisp country air and the delights of local hospitality.