Beginning in Toowoomba, just 90 –minutes west of Brisbane, Southern Queensland Country is a region made for driving. Highways and byways take you via patchwork farmlands, mountains, friendly country towns, rivers, vineyards and national parks. Here are our top 3 drives to inspire you to take a day or longer to escape to the fresh air and discover our beautiful backyard.
1. CROWS NEST NATIONAL PARK
You’ll discover spectacular creek scenery, granite outcrops, a scenic waterfall and eucalypt forest remnants on the edge of the Great Dividing Range. Follow the creek to the Cascades and Crows Nest Falls, and then enjoy spectaculars views over the Valley of Diamonds from Koonin Lookout. Cool off in Bottlebrush Pool. Watch for vulnerable brush-tailed rock wallabies, small forest birds and cliff-nesting peregrine falcons. Ten minutes from you the Park is the town of Crows Nest. Stop for a old-fashioned soft drink at Crows Nest Soft Drinks or a coffee at The Nest and potter around Salt’s Antiques – a collection of fine old wares, period pieces and curiosities…if those walls could talk!
Drive-time to Brisbane:
The park is located 50km north of Toowoomba via the New England Highway or 44km west of Esk via the Esk-Hampton Road.
Killarney is the quintessential country town. Stock up on local veges at roadside honesty-box stalls and local eggs, honey, beef and sausages at Killarney Butcher next to the pub; pick up a work by a local artist from Willow Gallery and walk and picnic at Queen Mary Falls where Spring Creek plunges 40 metres over a sheer rock face to the gorge below. Queen Mary Falls Café bakes scones daily - one of these smothered with cream and house-made jam is the perfect reward after your walk.
Drive-time to Brisbane: 2 hours
Getting there: From Brisbane, take the Boonah-Rathdowney Road. After Boonah, take the Falls Drive tourist route, a steep but sealed approach along the Boonah-Killarney Road. You will see the sign to Queen Mary Falls; Killarney is a further 10-minutes’ drive.
The Granite Belt is a region of diverse and rugged beauty, with Stanthorpe as its urban hub and a string of creative and friendly villages either side along the New England Highway. There’s a rich history to explore and many delights for the senses. Here you’ll see autumn’s changing hues, taste juicy just-picked seasonal fruit and vegetables, feel spring’s revitalising energy and cosy up beside crackling fires in winter – and of course, hit the wine trail to meet winemakers at the cellar door of Queensland's most awarded wine region. What is wine without cheese? You can taste some of the region’s best made from Jersey milk at Stanthorpe Cheese. Their milkshakes are also legendary!
In Girraween National Park you won’t believe the sheer size of the huge granite boulders towering above open forests. From the Castle Rock and Bald Rock Creek camping areas, explore some of the 17km of walking tracks. Do the climb up the First Pyramid to for spectacular view over the park, including Balancing Rock. Photographers and birdwatchers love this place. Keep your eyes peeled for blue wrens, yellow-tufted honey eaters, bearded dragons and more rarely a wombat or a superb lyrebird.
Drive-time from Brisbane: 3 hours
Getting there: From Brisbane travel to Toowoomba, then onto Stanthorpe via the New England Highway; continue for 35 km south to Girraween.