Autumn & winter are still a great time for a holiday in SEQ
Autumn & Winter is still a great time to enjoy a holiday in South East Queensland
Autumn and winter bring their own pleasures. Gone are the long weekends away on the beach, now you are seeking fireplaces, walks in the countryside, warm meals in cosy restaurants and of course, a few glasses of wine, beer or spirits to warm yourself up. Here are some of the best autumn and winter escapes in South East Queensland.
There are lots of great escapes during winter and autumn in South East Queensland
I have always through of Mt Tamborine as a summer destination to escape the heat in the cooler climate and clearer air of the mountain, but when I stayed at Witches Falls Cottages, they pointed out to me how many people head there for an autumn or winter break. When you consider their accommodation has cabins with fireplaces and spa baths, it is not surprising then that many people head up there and just spend their time sipping local wines and food in front of a fire.
Mt Tamborine has lots of short walks through lush rainforest
Most of the attractions of Mt Tamborine are best enjoyed in the cooler months. This includes the various rainforest walks, the Skywalk, glow worm caves, shopping and of course the great food and wine. The area is great for both romantic and family holidays.
Most restaurants offer hearty meals to fill you up on a cool or cold evening after building up an appetite with a walk or two. The last time I was there, we went to Clancy's Irish Bar to warm ourselves up with a nice Irish stew.
A hearty winter meal at Clancy's Irish Bar & Restaurant on Mt Tamborine
Accommodation in Mt Tamborine includes private romantic cottages such as Witches Falls, or holiday houses, which are great for groups or families, camping at Thunderbird Park, and of course everything in between.
Talking to older Brisbanites, it was common to visit Killarney up to the 1980s. My understanding is that upgrades to the various roads meant that people started taking alternative routes over the Great Dividing Range, and Killarney became less visited.
However recent upgrades to The Head Road from Boonah has begun to attract more visitors to this area. While the road up over the range is single lane much of the way, it is still a great drive through lush rainforest with friendly drivers who wave to you as you pass.
The road from Boonah to Killarney is a great drive
The main highlight is the drive itself over the head with multiple waterfalls on the way, including Teviot Falls, Queen Mary Falls, Daggs Falls and Browns Falls, among other spots to stop. For people with 4 wheel drives, you can take the Condamine River Road instead which is unsealed and crosses the river 14 times.
Daggs Falls, one of several waterfalls to visit in the Killarney area
There are 2 dining options on the drive, including the well regarded Spring Creek Mountain Cafe, which you must book if you want a table, and The Falls Cafe. which is more relaxed. There are also cafes and the pub in town, and those wishing to self-cater should definitely pick up some steak and award-winning sausages from the Killarney Butcher.
The Falls Cafe provides an option for some great relaxed dining, coffee or a snack
For accommodation, it is best to look for farm stays or cabins instead of motels. For example, Branell Homestead & Cabins has a main building along with separate cabins with great views. You can book a single cabin as a couple or book out multiple rooms and accommodation with friends and family. Another option is Stockton Rise Country Retreat which is the perfect place to a group escape.
Branell Homestead is a great venue for escapes, events and weddings
Along with relaxing with friends, there are lots of other things to do in the area. You can explore the little townships, look at in craft or antique shops, enjoy a coffee or a meal in fun little cafes, visit historic locations and various museums, go horse riding and more.
Not far over the border from Queensland is the historic town of Tenterfield, which is close enough to be considered part of South East Queensland. This town is famous for being the place where the idea of Australia as a nation was born and the birthplace of Peter Allen who is most famous for his song "I Still Call Australia Home" as well as "Tenterfield Saddler".
Being a 3-hour drive from the heart of Brisbane, it is more suitable for long weekends away as well as people living in areas such as the Gold Coast. It's great climate, wonderful food and history make it worth the trip. But remember it get quite cold for the area in winter. It is even known to become cold at the height of summer, so always dress warmly.
You can stay in the heart of town in places that include The Commercial Hotel and the Historic Stannum House or head out of town for a farm stay. You can also camp at places nearby such as Bald Rock and Boonoo Boonoo Falls. I believe both places have wood barbecues and fire pits.
Stannum House in Tenterfield is a great BnB experience
The main attraction is the historic town itself. Towns like Tenterfield grew rich from both farming and mining, often being bustling centres at the end of the 19th century. Pop into the rail museum, visit the Tenterfield Saddlery, shop for local crafts or antiques, or eat in cafes that range from a classic country-style to a modern eatery. Don't forget to try and steaks or lamb from animals raised on the rich pastures of the area.
Around town, there are farms you can visit as well as great bushwalks. Overall a great spot to visit during the cooler months of the year.
Every season in South East Queensland is good for camping, and autumn and winter camping also have their special appeal. The first one is sitting around the campfire, the second is hiking, which is better in the cooler months.
South East Queensland's mild winters make camping a joy
For those looking for places with lots of hikes, then of course Binna Burra and O'Reilly's both have lots of tracks you can do. Giraween is also popular because of its unique granite rock formations, though you can also camp at Bald Rock which is the national park that sits on the NSW side.
Ideally, a weekend away with both a campfire at night and hiking during the day makes a great way to enjoy the cooler months. Remember to dress warmly and bring marshmallows for the fire.
This is a quick shout out for the Gold Coast in the cooler seasons. Yes, you probably don't want to have a dip in the ocean but it is still a great destination with a lot to see and do, and of course, the best thing is that hotel prices tend to be cheaper in the offseason.
First of all, find a hotel with a heated swimming pool. Doesn't matter if it is inside or outside, because it is isn't likely to be so cold that you won't enjoy a swim if the water is warm enough. Next, realise that winter is less about the sea though it doesn't mean you can't head to the seaside. In particular, a walk in Burleigh Heads National Park to wake yourself up in the morning or cycling out to the Spit on a beach bicycle are great activities to enjoy. If you enjoy long walks on the beach in winter, I highly recommend Bilinga Beach as the quietest beach.
Shopping and dining are popular pursuits in cooler months. For people travelling from Brisbane, you can often find brand outlets on the Gold Coast that are not available in Brisbane. Personally, I prefer checking out the markets which range from the beachside markets at Surfers Paradise to the more commercial markets at Nerang.
The Gold Coast has a wide range of markets, include ones on the beach front
But the Gold Coast is also a great location for entertainment. Whether you are visiting a theme park or checking out a show, make sure you look for the deals to get the best price. Often the hotels can arrange tickets or you can look for prices online.
One thing worth doing on the Gold Coast in Winter is whale watching. You can join a whale watching tour or just spot them from the shore. Burleigh Heads National Park is usually the best place to spot whales, but I have seen them also just from the beach.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Like the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast can be cheaper to visit in Winter. The beach area is great for walks, markets and dining, but winter is a great time to head to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Towns like Maleny and Montville are packed with shopping, dining and attractions. Maleny's Sunday Markets at the RSL are fun to check out with friendly locals selling all sorts of products.
Maleny Markets is worth visiting if you are in the area on a Sunday
Other attractions worth looking in on include Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, The Ginger Factory, several different cheese factories and the Maleny Dairies. Many of these attractions cater well for kids.
The Hinterland is also great for lookouts. A few that come to mind include the Glass House Mountains Lookout, Mapleton Falls Lookout and Gerrards Lookout. You can drive up to all of these.
If you want more nature then there are plenty of places to go for a walk, including Mary Cairncross Reserve, Kondalilla Falls, and various sections of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, especially Gheerulla Valley Circuits. Walks range from casual strolls through to multi-day hikes.
Enjoy the beautiful rainforest of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in summer or winter
The Hinterland is a great place to find various bed and breakfast stays, which tend to fairly pricey, as well as Airbnb rentals which will be much more reasonable. You can also camp here, with Charlie Moreland being one of the best, closely followed by [LINK=https://www.weekendnotes.com/booloumba-creek-campground-conondale-national-park/]Booloumba Creek, which is unfortunately limited to 4 wheel drive access. Both have fire rings to keep you warm during a cold weather stay.