Being a farmer or small producer doesn’t always go to plan – an early frost or a scorching hot day can destroy months of careful planning and preparation.
It takes a bucketload of passion to keep going in the face of adversity, and perhaps that’s why it’s so interesting to meet the people behind the produce.
This holiday, reconnect with where your food and clothing comes from by learning about the people who grow, harvest and make them.
Drop into these cellar doors and farm gates as you travel around Southern Queensland Country, or seek out these products at your local supermarket to support what’s growing in our country.
Trevor Smith first started his award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate company in Falun, a small town deep in the forests of Sweden in 2012.
Now based in Toowoomba, his goal of creating fine, ethically sourced chocolate remains the same.
Every Metiisto bar begins with selecting and roasting the cocoa beans, then the beans are winnowed, refined, conched, aged, tempered and finally boxed up for the shop.
Pechey Distilling Co
Pechey Homestead has been in the family for six generations and now chief distiller Ben Pechey is adding a new entrepreneurial chapter to its story.
North of Toowoomba, the high country distillery is producing triple-distilled gin, vodka and cane spirit in small batches.
Try the liquor for yourself at the distillery door, and even stay the night at the working farm in private on-site cottages.
It makes sense you’ll want to stay the night – so double your fun with these 8 things to do in Toowoomba the next day.
Rosalie House has been a labour of love for Doyle and Vicki Thompson, who first hand-planted vines in 2005.
Now the Thompson family, helped by their daughters Renee, Teshla and Emily, grandchildren and #winedog Jetty invite you to join them at the property and taste the fruits of that labour.
Enjoy sunset views across Lilyvale Valley as you sip the local wine while grazing on a cheeseboard at the cellar door and restaurant.
Keep an eye out for interactive grape-picking days and join on Sunday afternoons for live music in the vines.
In the south-west of Southern Queensland Country, a Mediterranean-style climate makes Goondiwindi the best place in the Sunshine State to grow olives.
Scorching summers, frosty winters and the right balance of sun, water, temperature and aridity allow the award-winning Coolmunda Olives to experiment with olive varieties.
Drop by to taste Spanish Arbequinas and Manzanillos, Greek Kalamatas and Volos, Cypriate Koronieki, and North African Barouni – all an easy drive distance from Goondiwindi CBD.
Trying to wrap your head around how a plant becomes a t-shirt?
See the whole process from farm to fibre to fabric on a tour through a 2,500-acre working cotton farm and gin.
You’ll leave with a new appreciation for cotton farmers (and probably a few new shirts from their boutique store at the end of the tour).
Leven K Lavender
Growing lavender has been a passion project for Kellie and Matthew for years.
In fact, they’ve been experimenting with different varieties since 2001 and their award-winning lavender oil is distilled at the farm and used to create essential oils, lip balm, soap, diffusers and hand cream.
If you find yourself in Goondiwindi working through these things to do, remember, lavender flowers bloom between October and March and the ‘Shed Shop’ is open by appointment only.
Southern Downs & Granite Belt
There’s nothing quite like the joy of picking your own strawberries.
To experience it for yourself, take the family to Ashbern Farms in Stanthorpe between October and May to pick-your-own from the patch, or buy the red gems freshly packed at the farm shop.
Ashbern Farms also sells homemade ice-cream, coffee, strawberry jams and gifts to take home if you’re looking for a souvenir from your travels.
Gleneden Family Farm
Rowan Morris is a fourth-generation farmer who is passionate about leaving a positive impact on the landscape.
His farm, Gleneden, operates with organic, holistic and regenerative principles and sells pastured pork and 100% pasture-fed lamb and beef.
He hosts guided farm tours, heritage tours and bush camping experiences for you to see his paddock to plate difference.
Truffle Discovery Centre
Did you know you can find locally grown black truffles in Queensland?
While fresh truffles are unearthed each July and August, the Truffle Discovery Centre operates tastings year-round with interactive exhibits and gourmet products like truffle-infused oils, honey, salts, mustard, mayo, aioli, salsas and balsamics.
Add it to your list as you’re working through these 10 things to do in the Southern Downs and Granite Belt.
For the past 12 years a single herd of pure-bred Jersey cows have been providing the milk for this artisan cheesemaker.
Located 925 metres above sea level, Queensland’s highest and coldest farmhouse cheese shop is the sort of place you’ll drop in to pick up a wheel or two and stay for a ploughman’s platter at the Jersey Girls cafe.
Finding export-quality paddock-to-plate beef is easy when you know where to look in the Western Downs.
This local farmer lets you buy 150-day grain-fed premium Black Angus beef direct from the family cattle farm.
It’s a treat to access meat of a quality usually reserved for international exports and fine-dining restaurants.
Bunya Range Lamb
“From our mountains to your door” is the promise behind the family-owned Bunya Range Lamb.
They deliver pasture-raised, ethically produced Australian lamb direct to consumers, cutting out the middleman and keeping food miles low.
Clover Hill Ranch
At Clover Hill Ranch, owners Steven and Ursula Keating welcome guests to camp on the tranquil banks of Charley’s Creek and offer tours of the property and town of Chinchilla.
Join them for a 3.5-hour journey across the ranch, learning about cattle, horses and sustainable land management.
You can learn a lot from the producers of some of Australia’s best wagyu.
Bunya Red Farm
It turns out the rich red volcanic soil of the South Burnett region are the perfect growing conditions for award-winning capers and caperberries.
Looking for a tree change, Allan and Mandy fell in love with the region and decided caper plants were the right crop for their farm after watching an episode of ABC Landline.
Their Bunya Red Farm sells Queensland-grown capers, caperberries and caper salt.
Moffatdale Ridge Winery
Jason Kinsella makes award-winning wines and liqueurs in a way that suits Queensland growing and drinking conditions.
Drop by the winery to taste refreshingly crisp whites, soft reds, juicy fortified wines and liqueurs with local flavours to see how it earnt its place on this list of the best wineries in the South Burnett.
The 360-acre property has been in the family for almost a century with the first vines planted in 1996. Extend your tasting to lunch at the on-site restaurant, D’Vine.
Schulte’s Meat Tavern
With just one suitcase and very little English, Peter Wolfgang Schulte arrived in Australia having completed a master butcher apprenticeship and survived the war in Germany.
He founded Schulte’s Meat Tavern in 1952 making German sausages and smoked and cured meats.
Today Peter Jr runs the family business, which has grown to win stacks of awards and become a staple for locally raised meat in the Lockyer Valley.
High in fat and proteins and low in lactose, milk from the Awassi breed of sheep makes for an incredibly tasty cheese.
Join farmers David and Di Piggott for a full-day, hands-on experience milking the sheep, making cheese and finally appreciating the product with wine in the orchard.
The farm also offers a “high cheese” experience and sells beauty products and cheese to take home.
If you find yourself in the Lockyer Valley, tick off these 10 things to do while you’re at it.