Gather local cheese, meats and preserves and take your picnic to a scenic spot – mother nature in the Southern Downs and Granite Belt is calling.
Great food can only be improved by a great view or beautiful setting, so when you’re in the Southern Downs and Granite Belt region seek out these food experiences that pair the best local produce with the great outdoors.
Bluebird Kitchen and Smokehouse, Warwick
If you’re a fan of American-style barbecue, Bluebird Kitchen serves up tender smoked brisket, award-winning sweet ribs, mac ‘n’ cheese and apple slaw in big platters to share. Everything is made in the slow and delicious way, with all beef, pork, chicken and sausages sourced locally and smoked on iron bark for two to 12 hours.
Take your barbecue pack down to nearby Queens Park for a simple picnic in the shade, or drive the half hour to Queen Mary Falls picnic area. After lunch, descend the short trail from the eucalypt-topped ridge down to the lush rainforest gorge to experience the 40-metre high falls up close.
Jamworks Gourmet Foods Cafe & Larder, Glen Alpin
There’s nothing better than returning from a road trip with a bounty of local goods, so let Jamworks Gourmet Foods Cafe & Larder fill your bag. The cafe and larder makes more than 100 gourmet jams, relishes, pickles and pastes on site. All are gluten and preservative free, using local produce when possible.
Drop in for a hearty breakfast or lunch, or pick up a couple of the trademark scones and your choice of jam to fuel your bush walk through the magical Girraween National Park. In springtime the park is awash with a vibrant show of wildflowers, the perfect backdrop for afternoon tea (just pack a thermos of tea!)
Stanthorpe Cheese, Stanthorpe
This artisanal cheesemaker, Stanthorpe Cheese, produces fine salty feta, creamy hard cheeses and stinky blues with Jersey milk. If you have time, stick around for the cheese talk and tasting session, or make a selection to go. There’s a full gourmet larder with local preserves, fruits, cured meats and wine, so you can build a DIY picnic to take and enjoy lunch or the sunset from Donnelly’s Castle.
Suttons Juice Factory and Cidery, Thulimbah
Before you head to the “castle”, a visit to Stanthorpe isn’t complete without a slice of Suttons Juice Factory and Cidery’s famous apple pie. Drop by the family-owned apple orchard, juice factory and cider house on the way to pick up a bottle for your picnic and collect a slice (or whole pie!).
This giant granite rock formation known as “Donnelly’s Castle” was a bushranger hideout for “Thunderbolt”, who roamed the New England Tableland. The massive granite boulders are just as jaw dropping as those in Girraween National Park, but much easier to reach. So, bring your juice bottle, pie and cheese to enjoy the spectacular views.
Truffle Discovery Centre, Stanthorpe
Did you know you can get up close with the rare precious highly valuable French Black Perigord truffle in Stanthorpe? Drop into the Truffle Discovery Centre to learn about all things truffle and see, smell and taste the black gold. Level up your cheese platter with truffle honey from the gift shop, which pairs beautifully with aged cheeses like cheddar and blue cheese. The store also sells truffle-infused oils, salt, mustard and more, plus fresh truffles in the wintertime.
The Passchendaele State Forest isn’t too far out of town – popular with mountain bikers and bouldering enthusiasts, there’s plenty of space to throw down a rug and enjoy your gourmet finds in nature.
Pick your own at Ashbern Farms
Is there anything sweeter than getting to pick your own strawberries? Wander out into the fields at Ashbern Farms and fill a punnet with the freshest juicy, red strawberries around. Between October and May the farm welcomes visitors to drop by Fridays to Sundays from 8am to 3pm. The farm shop also sells homemade strawberry ice cream, jams and coffee and has picnic tables so you can relax and enjoy your fruit bounty.
PYO at Eastern Colour
Down the road at Eastern Colour the strawberry fields are also open for a pick-your-own fiesta. At this family-owned farm, they open the gates for regular picking events at both their strawberry fields and apple orchards. Call and reserve a spot so they know how many people to expect and can guarantee fruit for you.
PYO at Nicoletti Orchards
The third-generation farming family wants to share just how good a fresh, crunchy apple can taste at Nicoletti Orchards, by inviting you to picnic and pick your own apples on their 100-acre orchard in Pozieres. The apple trees explode with white blossoms in the spring, so BYO picnic to enjoy in the orchard every Sunday in October and November (just book ahead). The PYO apple season kicks off in February.
Gleneden Family Farm, Warwick
Reconnect with your food and nature at Gleneden Family Farm north of Warwick. Join the Gleneden family tour to learn about how they use a regenerative system to produce organic food including free range pork, lamb, beef and eggs.
Slow down and fully immerse yourself in nature by staying the night camping under the stars. The farm offers simple, dog-friendly bush camping on the 640-acre property in the ranges near Maryvale, between Warwick and Cunningham’s Gap.