Granite Belt Retreat & Brewery
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Not sure who salivated more when my canine best mates and I discovered a dog-friendly place to stay - with a brewery onsite - in the primordial surrounds of the Granite Belt. If I had to bet, I'd have my money on me.
Regardless, arriving at the , about ten minutes outside the centre of Stanthorpe, really does feel like a retreat from reality. Or maybe a diversion to an alternative dimension where boulders and beer are kings.
If you're in a rush, it's three-ish hours nonstop from Brisbane but where's the fun in that sort of road trip? A snack at the Aratula Bakery or lunch amongst the sandstone grandeur of historic Warwick are both excellent stopover options. Fair to say the Cunningham Highway is the capital of potholes so drive carefully on whichever detour you take.
The Big Apple will welcome you to Stanthorpe and is worth a photo stop before Siri directs you down Glenlyon Rd to the well-signed Granite Belt Retreat. It's hard not to be impressed by the prodigious boulders - many in the front yards of locals - that mark this proper Australian bush hideaway.
The welcome is warm and the banter distracts me from heading straight to the tantalisingly close brewery taproom. Actual key collected (no plastic cards here), we pack our complimentary produce pack into an overloaded SUV and follow the directions up the gravel road. The road might be a stretch actually - the crude path makes the Cunningham Highway look like a paved in gold privilege.
The H-RV proves to be the little engine that could and we mount the not-insignificant rise with a sense of pride. Maybe the Paris to Dhaka rally isn't beyond us? My co-driver shakes her head at the suggestion.
Country Shab or Chic?
Rustic is the obvious word that springs to mind as we pull up at our little timber palace. The cabin is labelled Wild Apple and the place does look a little untamed.
Dogs unloaded and secured within the front fortifications, the critical eye begins to gaze. The gutters overflow with leaves and the fenced area looks a little snaky - it could definitely do with a bit of TLC.
The fixes are simple and a slight feeling of being underwhelmed emerges. A quick circumnavigation of our digs and the feeling is quickly matched by an appreciation of our preened-only-by natural surroundings. Boulders and eucalypts dominate. Despite being within eyeshot of other cabins, the place feels more isolated than it actually is.
It's at the height of summer but the old-school fireplace instantly catches the eye. Winter is high season here and it's easy to imagine a night of local beers and story-telling huddled around the metal drawcard.
The simple layout is further enhanced by the sense of space created by cathedral-style ceilings. Not surprisingly, timber panelling and furnishings dominate and I silently hope I didn't bring anything flammable.
The bathroom, bedroom (bunk beds plus queen) and lounge are perfectly functional and suitably furnished but an additional basin in the kitchen would further enhance the place. With furry friends in tow, I'm drawn to the back deck area which feels like a spacious tree-house.
As a concrete cowboy used to industrial-styled city breweries, the charm and space of the proudly countrified brewhouse is a welcome change. The timber theme of our cabin is super-sized and it does feel a little like stepping back in time.
Chesterfield lounges catch the eye, as do the photos and paraphernalia mounted on the walls. The u-shaped bar itself is a little cluttered but projects a sense of timelessness and I'm waiting for an off-duty bushranger to walk through the door as I peruse the offerings.
I make my way outside with a varied tasting tray precariously balanced. The deck and surrounding grass area provide dog-friendly sections and are definitely the preferred options on a summer's day. Overlooking a small dam, the deck is a viewing platform and it's not long before birds are joined by some local marsupials. Fresh beers and wildlife spotting - not a bad combination for families.
A tasting tray is the only way to go here and there are plenty of seasonal offerings to tempt the palate of seasoned beer aficionados. Be sure to try the XPA - definitely my number selection from the range.
Take-away six-packs and cartons are also available and offer significant savings for the budget minded if imbibing back in your cabin is your preference. Either way, having a brewery onsite and only a short stroll from your lodgings is brilliant - hopefully it starts a trend.
The menu offers the biggest surprise at Granite Belt Brewery. While the bar snacks expected at such a venue (E.g. chips and wings) are available, both the lunch and dinner menus are more up-market and priced accordingly. Think they aim to reflect the foodie element of the region but possibly miss the mark for brewery patrons?
Be sure to check out dining operating hours - they change depending on the day/ season - and plan your dinners accordingly. While it's not far into the many options of downtown Stanthorpe, the blood alcohol content needs to be carefully considered.
The Overall Verdict
If you're looking for dog-friendly and like a beer, this is most definitely the place to stay for your next Granite Belt adventure. Looking for a five-star health retreat or a more centrally-located Stanthorpe getaway? Look elsewhere.
105199 - 2023-06-12 11:44:55