I am a freelance writer and diversional therapist, living in Brisbane's North West. I write for Weekend Notes, Must do Brisbane and Starts at Sixty. Visit my blogs at babybloomin.wordpress.com and brisbanetripster.wordpress.com.
On a recent girls' weekend away, we had the pleasure of staying at Twisted Gum Wines at Ballandean. This winery and vineyard is owned by Michelle and Tim Coelli. They are an interesting couple who moved from Brisbane to Ballandean to give their children a country upbringing and combine Tim's love of wine with Michelle's knowledge and skills in agriculture. When living in Brisbane, Tim was an Economics Professor at UQ whilst Michelle was an environmental scientist with the government. We didn't have the chance to meet Tim, but were extended the warmest of hospitality by Michelle.
The other family member whom we had the pleasure of meeting, was Gus - the four legged public relations officer at Twisted Gum Wines. I think it would be fair to say he is the most enthusiastic meet and greet staffer you'll find! Gus chose to hang out with us over the weekend but knew his place and simply hung out in the doorway to the deck - he's a real character!
The self contained cottage on the property is tucked away on the hill and although Michelle and Tim's private residence is not far away, you still have plenty of privacy. Twisted Gum cottage was the old farmhouse, built in the 1920s. It has been renovated and now makes very comfortable guest accommodation. There are three bedrooms in the cottage, two with Queen size beds and one with two single beds. One of the Queen size bedrooms has it's own ensuite whilst a newly renovated family bathroom is just down the hall from the other rooms.
The cottage was our home away from home for the weekend
Our beds were very comfy, the doonas nice and cosy and a slow combustion fire in the lounge room (firewood chopped and ready for use) kept us all toasty warm. During the day we enjoyed sitting out on the deck, underneath the vines, just sipping our tea and coffee and relaxing. This was also the perfect spot for late afternoon drinks and nibblies!
There is an easy and short bush walk just behind the cottage that leads to a peak of granite boulders with a great view out towards Sundown National Park. There's artistic evidence that others have gone before you as various structures have been built all over the boulders by visitors. We did our bit to be creative and to prove we'd at least done some exercise over the weekend!
Someone was very creative with their rock art - not us!
Having burnt off a few calories, we followed our bush walk with lunch at the neighbouring Hidden Creek cafe. It was a short amble down a dirt track for us which allowed us to do a spot of tasting before lunch. Our meal was lovely and very good value but the best part of the experience was sitting out under beautiful big trees, at wooden tables overlooking the dam. It doesn't get much better!
But it did! After lunch we ambled yet again and in no time we were at the very stylish Cellar Door of Twisted Gum Wines. Michelle and Tim bought this beautiful 1920s Queenslander, which was previously home to a dairy farmer and situated on the banks of the Logan River. The house was moved in two sections to the Ballandean property where many hours of hard work transformed it into a special place to sample great wines. Yes, we did more tasting - and a little shopping. It was interesting to learn that the vines here are pruned and harvested by hand and that the Twisted Gum vines are dry grown, meaning that the only water they get is that which falls from the sky. This gives their wines a unique taste and one that had us stocking up for our return home.
Michelle and Tim's daughter, Emily, is an art student and an artist in her own right. A gallery at the Cellar Door exhibits her works which are for sale. Emily explores many topics in her paintings, with faces being one of her favourites. Also on display is work by another local artist, Michael Pieper who makes beautiful objects from glass and wood. All his pieces are unique, with many of them involving the use of "found wood", which are characterful pieces of wood that he has found in the forest.
Whilst the weather is turning cool, it's the perfect time to visit Twisted Gum Wines and why not stay for a night or two? You can do nothing, or fill in the days as we did - doing as we pleased, when we pleased!