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There are no secret ingredients to making memories – they’re the special moments spent with family and friends, linked together to create the pictures and stories we treasure most. The best places to experience those moments are in Southern Queensland Country.

From the central hub of Toowoomba, west to Meandarra, and south to Stanthorpe, you’ll discover towns and villages, picnic spots and hiking trails, bakeries and wineries, grasslands and guesthouses to make you feel, ‘One day, years from now, we’ll remember this moment.’

You’ll want to make the most of your time, so use this guide as your GPS for memory-making.

For country drives like this

There’s a reason so many songs have been written about country roads. Pack a picnic, take your time and find out why.

Summer is sunflower season on the Southern Downs and in the Toowoomba region, and every year from late December fields of gold cover parts of the region, transforming a normally pretty drive into an unforgettable one. You’ll find the best around Allora and Warwick, but remember, flowers don’t recognise the calendar like people do, so check the here before setting off.

There’s something about waterfalls that makes us want to hit the road and seek them out. The Falls Drive is one of the region’s most loved routes, through mountain covered with bush and rainforest and leading to picnic spots and walking tracks straight out of storybooks. From Killarney, take Spring Creek Road up to Queen Mary Falls or up to Carr’s Lookout for spectacular views over the Head Valley,

For something a bit different, why not add your own stories to those of the pioneers and take the Sunset Way Tourist Drive? Head west from the town of Tara following the sunset to Surat on the very edge of the outback, winding your way along country roads dotted with tiny towns. You won’t find a traffic light or a roundabout, but happily most have a bakery, because who doesn’t love a mid-morning vanilla slice on a road trip?

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For ancient landscapes like this

You might feel like you’re the first to explore the rainforests of the Main Range National Park around Cunningham’s Gap and Spicers Gap, but people have been visiting the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area for thousands of years.

It’s a landscape of rugged mountains, sun-dappled forests, ancient eucalypts and cascading streams. Stretch out on a rug for an afternoon nap in a shaded picnic area or lead your crew on a steep climb to a spectacular lookout. You might struggle to put away your camera and stay in the moment, but it’s worth it – at least for a little while.

There are as many opportunities for memory-making moments in and around Girraween National Park as there are granite boulders. Whether you hike for a day, scanning the treetops for a blue wren and listening for platypus splashes, or spend a week in a caravan playing cards and listening to cicadas, you’ll leave feeling more together than you have in ages.

Swap eucalypt forests for rainforests and head for the ancient heights of the Bunya Mountains and reflect on how, in a previous millennium they were even higher. In the lush surrounds of Queensland’s second-oldest national parks you can walk forever, spending crisp nights camping, or more cosily in a cabin.

Bunya Mountains National Park brings you up close and personal with wildlife, especially if you explore on foot. More than 300 species of animals live in the forests including 215 varieties of birds – at night the park comes alive with ringtail possums, so take a torch and watch a real-life nature documentary, live.

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For food and wine like this

In the sunny courtyard of a country pub, it’s easy to forget the rushed meals of everyday life. The food and wine landscape of Southern Queensland Country is expanding every year, but curiously, as the world moves forward, the most innovative producers are looking to the past, and food lovers are here for it.

At the end of lanes and driveways you’ll notice crates of fresh fruit and vegetables, with an ‘honesty box’ beside them. There’s no shortage of restaurants and cafes either, with fine dining establishments appearing in what seem the unlikeliest towns, and vineyards and cellar doors eager for visitors to share their stories as well as their wines.

It’s a rare family who doesn’t worry about screentime. A fun solution is to take the kids to a farmstay, where devices are the least interesting thing to do. Bestbrook Mountain Farmstay is just 90 minutes from Brisbane and offers horse riding through bush trails as well as lessons in butter-churning, while Glenyon Dam Holiday Cottage is part of a rare-breed sheep farm where kids will learn jumpers don’t grow in shops, and an egg tastes better when you’ve met the chook who laid it. Or do what generations of families have done and head for one of the region’s many campgrounds.

Spend a weekend, a week or even longer living a simpler kind of life. Nothing makes family memories like days spent hunting for yabbies and nights telling stories around a campfire. Don’t worry if you’re not normally ‘campers’, everyone has a story about a forgotten tent-pole or burnt the damper – and they often make the best core memories.

For events and festivals like this

If need a reason to rally the troops, behold the events and festival calendar of Southern Queensland Country. Every year there’s something new, so check in here regularly, but here’s a list of some that have been attracting happy crowds for years.

The Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers started as a way to mark the end of World War II austerity, and it’s still bringing people together to celebrate flowers, food, wine and springtime sunshine. Throughout September, more than 350,000 visitors delight in open gardens, the iconic floral parade and a carnival atmosphere that brings the city to life. There’s so much to do, you’ll want to stay a few days, so be sure to book accommodation early.

In the first weekend of August, every second year, the town of Tara in the heart of the Western Downs welcomes visitors from across Queensland and around Australia for the Tara Festival. A laughter-filled weekend spent under outback skies swapping camel-racing tips will surely be one to remember. The next festival is in 2024, but its growing popularity means now’s the time to alert the family group chat or muster your mates for a weekend of camel racing, markets, food stalls and the liveliest country music.

If you prefer casks to camels, mark the biennial Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival in the diary now. From February 23 to March 3, 2024, the Granite Belt region will celebrate its produce with a food & wine fiesta, live music, open gardens and of course, iconic grape-crushing events; apparently nothing brings people together like stomping around in a vat with a hundred kilos of ripe fruit.

Winter in Queensland is short and delicious, so rug up the gang for the Jumpers and Jazz In July Festival in Warwick. Across a midwinter weekend, crafty types and musicians come together for the quirkiest festival you’ve ever experienced. See the work of the ‘Yarntopians’, who dedicate themselves to wrapping 90 tree-trunks as colourful yarn installations, taste the region’s best food and wine then kick back and enjoy world-class jazz performed on the streets, in the parks and in character-filled restaurants, cafes and pubs warmed by friendship and family.

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Core memories like this – all waiting to be made in Southern Queensland Country.

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Acknowledgement of Country

Southern Queensland Country Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waterways that run through these regions. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and emerging.