I'm a mother of four with two coeliac children. I'm always on the lookout for great gluten-free spots around Brisbane and feature gluten-free cooking in my blog: coeliacfamily.blogspot.com.au
I'm also a muso and enjoy live music around town.
Published January 13th 2016
Don't sit around in the city: go country and breathe the air
The Lockyer Valley is well known for it's fruit and vegetables, but not much is said about it's natural wonders and spectacular views. Travel just over an hour from Brisbane and you can visit remote valleys, mountain creeks and basalt ridges and ancient Aboriginal carvings.
The drive begins at the Tourist Information Centre at Lake Apex in Gatton. Here you can fuel up for your drive in the cafe, spend an hour visiting the Queensland Transport Museum and pick up a Map to help you on your way.
Once you're ready to go, head out along the Mount Sylvia Road, which offers views of farm land, including an organic pecan farm and the small communities of Tent Hill and Mount Sylvia. Soon you will find yourself between the basalt ridges of the valley, with the Great Dividing Range at your side. There are small stony creeks to cross - testament to the area's ancient volcanic history, and the road does become single lane and dirt towards the end.
Spectacular views of basalt ridges enclose the picnic area
Once you've traversed these roads and negotiated the cattle crossings and cattle (and yes they don't just lead to someone's farm property, despite looking like it!), you will find yourself at nestled in between Glen Rock and the beginnings of the Range, next to Blackfellow Creek. There are plenty of picnic tables and barbecues, as well as toilets. If you pre-register online, you can set up camp for the night in the camping grounds. As we were day-tripping, we chose to have a picnic after reading the history of the area in the nearby settler's hut, which uses slab hut construction as the original pioneers of the area would have used. However it is possible to follow tracks through the bush land and traverse the countryside.
Ancient Aboriginal carvings at the Chullawong Site
Leaving the spectacular views of the ranges, we chose to follow the map detour to the aboriginal carvings at the Chullawong Aboriginal Rock Carving Site. This spectacular carving sits on the road to the chalk mine, just before the entrance. It is overgrown with lantana bushes and is easy to miss, but if you have reached the mine entrance, make a u-turn and pull over to the side of the road and you will see the rock overhang on your right. There is a set of steps leading up to the site. Be wary of the mine trucks which come hurtling through on this virtually one lane road and make your way up to the carvings. The carvings a site visited by the Jagera people on their way to the Bunya Mountains and is thought to tell the story of the frog dreaming.
Spectacular scenic view from the top of West Haldon Road
Continuing on your journey, you can choose to return to Gatton, or make a left turn to climb the steep roads leading to the top of the ranges. The return trip made this way offers spectacular valley views, and a drive through the Theiss brothers first major earthworks on the Gatton-Clifton Road. There is a memorial to the Theiss brothers at the Heifer Creek rest stop on your right. You will also pass through the small communities of Junction View and Ma Ma Creek, where you will find a settler built church and graves of the early pioneers as well as a memorial to three brothers lost in France in WWI.
From here, head back into Gatton. The drive, without stops and the tour to the Carvings, takes about an hour and forty minutes, but with lunch and photo stops and the detour we took about four hours. Adding this onto your travel from Brisbane to Gatton makes the return trip around six hours. You can find information on the drive on the Gatton tourist information Website (just be aware that the information is in the reverse order from the map directions).