I'm a freelance writer in Brisbane who is passionate about the food and wine scene in the Granite Belt, Queensland. I am writing a book of the people and food of Stanthorpe and plan to launch the publication in 2014.
'Toot' 'Toot' - All Aboard the 'Winelander'
Wine, countryside, historic sites, and steam!
All aboard with Southern Downs Steam Railway on the route known as the "Winelander" from Warwick to Wallangarra, on the border with New South Wales, to retrace the path of the Sydney Mail run.
Experience the fun of a steam train through the Southern Downs
Southern Downs Steam Railway volunteers crew the steam train and offer customers a full-day of sightseeing and cellar door visits departing Warwick at 8am, and returning by 5:30pm.
Many consider the journey from Warwick to Stanthorpe to be the most interesting, as there are tunnels and historic bridges, as well as passing through The Summit, the highest Queensland Rail station in the state.
At Stanthorpe station, you have 15 minutes for a break where you can take the time to see the community garden. From Stanthorpe to Wallangarra takes another hour and twenty minutes as the train winds through granite country where you can see the Pyramids and mountains in Girraween National Park. During winter, the wattle blossoms turn the countryside into a spectacular display of green and gold.
Lunch can be pre-purchased with your ticket for the Wallangarra refreshment rooms at the station—full restored railway refreshment rooms. For our trip, we had a two-course lunch of roast chicken with vegetables followed by apple pie and ice-cream. The Wallangarra markets are held to meet the train, so take some time to see the produce and craft of local people before you board the train again for Warwick. For the train buffs, watch the crews swap the locomotive around while you check out the markets.
If you booked the mystery wine tour, you will leave the train at Stanthorpe, and meet your wine tour guide. SDSR guarantee that the wineries change with each trip and lunch is provided on your tour. You join the train back at Stanthorpe at 3:30pm to travel back to Warwick.
Prices: From Warwick to Wallangarra return is $95 adult with no lunch, with lunch included is $117, and the wine tour option is $135. Concessions are available for seniors and children aged 4 – 14.
The railway also accepts passengers at Stanthorpe to take you to the border and return to Stanthorpe. To book this option, contact the railway directly by phone or email for Stanthorpe to Wallangarra return ticket price.