In need of an escape back to nature? Desperately seeking a break from computers, phones, internet and all the ‘stuff’ that comes with life? My friend, it sounds like you need to jump in the car and get ya bad self out to Girraween National Park in Southern Queensland Country. While the rest of Queensland (and some of New South Wales) may be spending their cheeky weekend getaways along the coastline, the country is where you’ll find a great slice of peace, relaxation and nature. It’s a chance to reconnect with the great outdoors, unwind and see some pretty spectacular stuff while you’re at it. If this sounds like the kind of trip you’re itching to take, here’s a look at the gorgeous Girraween Environmental Lodge and everything there is to see, do and eat while you’re there.
Alright, gimme the deets, where is this place?
Well, amigo, you’ll find Girraween Environmental Lodge in Girraween (shock!) This idyllic retreat sits around a 3 hour drive south-west of Brisbane’s CBD and 25 minutes north of Tenterfield. Don’t let the 3 hour drive turn you off, it’s actually an awesome little road trip and the time passes really quickly. You wind your way out of Brisbane, past the outer suburbs, up through the Great Dividing Range then into gorgeous Queensland countryside, sprawling and dense. With the right mix-tape in your cassette player, the drive is super easy and kind of a nice way to de-stress before you get there.
But, what’s the accommodation like?
You guys, this place is peaceful AF! To find the lodge you have to drive past Stanthorpe, right to the edge of Girraween National Park. It’s nestled in the Queensland bush, so it’s all things lush, nature, sky and trees. The best way I can describe it, is that it’s like something out of a Tourism Queensland advert. In the afternoon you’ll spot scores of kangaroos and wallabies nibbling on the grass, the sun a brilliant orange and pink as it tucks below the horizon for the evening.
The accommodation here is everything you need it to be in this kind of setting. You’ll find yourself set up in one of the private, stand-alone chalets hidden somewhere along the winding private roads within the lodge grounds. The chalets are incredibly spacious and very comfortable, offering up everything you could possibly need to bunker down and soak in all the nature.
The chalets are able to accommodate anywhere from two to six guests, so they’re great for a romantic couples vacay or a getaway with the family or friends. You’ll find them boasting big, comfy king-size doubles beds or king-size single beds with electric blankets for those cold winter evenings. The bathrooms are huge and spacious, inclusive of a 2 person spa bath. For cosy winter trips, you’ll want to fire up the slow combustion wood fire heater and snuggle up in blankets in front of if, watching the logs crackle and burn.
Each chalet comes with its own self-contained kitchen and gas BBQ, so you’ll want to bring your own supplies to keep the troops happy. If that sounds like more effort than you were planning on expending, don’t worry, there’s loads of great places to eat in the region. You’ll find the accommodation provides everything you could possibly need in an incredibly earthy setting. The chalets themselves are rustic, warm and welcoming, offering up a very cosy home away from home. It’s an ideal escape destination during the cool and warm months, so don’t let the heat scare you off.
And what exactly would I do up there?
So you’re in the middle of the bush, holed up in a private chalet. You’ve caught up on sleep and now you’re itching to get out and explore. What is there to do? Ah, there’s heaps of things to do!
First things first, you’re going to want to make the most of the fantastic hiking trails within the grounds of the lodge. You can grab some information on trails from the incredibly lovely on-site manager, Kelly, who will gladly give you all the information you need on where to go, the best trails to do and everything else you could imagine. Not only that, but Kelly’s gorgeous pooch, Tas, will happily accompany you on your hike.
Aside from the great on-site trails, you’re incredibly close to Girraween National Park, so it’s well worth waking up early and tackling the hike up to The Pyramid for stunning early-morning views of the region. After that early start, you’re going to want to keep it nice and easy for the rest of the day, so head back to the lodge for a swim or a spa, then settle in for a movie marathon (Kelly has a killer DVD collection!)
The best part? There’s absolutely no wifi or phone reception at the chalets which means there’s nothing for you to do but completely disconnect from it all and let your mind, body and spirit recharge. We’re talking late nights with bottles of wine, toasting marshmallows in the fire, sleeping in late and finally reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to.
Talk me through the food situation…
Given you’re in Southern Queensland Country, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to excellent food and wine. There are some great places to grab a bite in Stanthorpe, including some yummy pub lunches, cute cafes and beautiful bakeries.
When it comes to food, you have to stop in for a meal at the Barrel Room, which opens for lunch and dinner on select days (be sure to check and make a booking). There are also some other great places to eat, including the Ballandean Tavern and Mason Wines, just to choose a few. You’ll find the area bustling with restaurants and cafes eager to show off the best produce the region has to offer. There are also quite a few wineries for you to visit, keen to supply you with tastes of the finest local drops.
Be sure to make a visit to The Bramble Patch for great preserves, jams and more as well as Suttons Juicery for a juice tasting and to stock up on a few of their divine conceptions. You’ll also want to visit the Granite Belt Brewery and Restaurant, The Little Cake and Coffee Shop and Jamworks for excellent coffee and scones.
When you live in Queensland or northern New South Wales, it can feel like you have to make the effort to get down to the Barossa or Hunter Valleys to have a wine-fuelled, food-scoffing, outdoors adventure in a stunning setting. Well, my friends, it turns out we have all of that much closer to home, which makes it far more budget and time friendly for us.
Girraween Environmental Lodge offers the perfect escape from the city, a chance to leave everything else behind and seek refuge in a beautiful part of Queensland. Spend your days sleeping in, drinking wine from the local region, feasting on the best local produce available, watching native animals nibble nearby and exploring the bushland.
A weekend trip out to Girraween will see you feeling refreshed and recharged, reconnected with nature and ready to get back into life at home. I’d recommend a trip out to the lodge for anybody who just feels like they need a break, to get back into the outdoors, breathe some fresh air, stretch their tired body and replenish themselves.