Indulge in good living and simple outdoor pleasures at the exclusive Spicers Peak Lodge. Surrounded by World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park, this sophisticated hideaway is a luxurious refuge in the stunning ranges of southeast Queensland.
Green fields and bluestone
After rolling over cattle grids and through lush green paddocks sprinkled with lazy brown cattle, the bumpy gravel road begins to twist and wind uphill past thick forests filled with tall Eucalypt trees.
I slow the car to a crawl and cautiously guide its wheels over the uneven surface as my husband and I debate about whether we have taken a wrong turn.
Suddenly a clearing appears between the trees and the imposing structure of Spicers Peak Lodge emerges on the hilltop.
At 1130m above sea level, we have arrived at Queensland’s highest retreat.As we pull into the circular driveway, the thought that comes to mind is that I’m about to visit the country home of a very wealthy uncle, one who owns a grand mountain lodge with soaring ceilings, timber beams and floor-to-ceiling glass panels that provide vistas of picture-book countryside.
At a closer look, this resort was built from scratch using materials that furnish it with echoes of times gone by.
Materials used in the construction include old Scottish bluestone, re-milled Blackbutt and Oregon timber.
Above the feature bluestone fireplace is a Latin inscription that translates to “The best and most beautiful support in life is friendship”.Placing my hands on the stone fireplace, history reverberates through the tips of my fingers.
Hand-hewn in Scotland more than a century ago, these blocks of stone travelled to Adelaide as ballast in ships and were once used to build stores along the wharves.
The owners of Spicers Peak went to a great deal of trouble to transport them to this remote destination in order to construct the fireplace and some of the lodge’s feature walls.
17 semi-trailers were used to transfer the stone blocks from Adelaide to the base of the mountain and 55 truckloads to get them to the top.These historical materials are well-matched with an overall contemporary design that gives the lodge a classic look.
Sleek black pots with dried spindly plants and leather candle holders decorate the side tables while a square wicker bowl filled with a mixture of textures and shapes sits on a timber and glass coffee table.
There are timber and metallic reading lamps, throw rugs draped artistically across suede armchairs and leather tubs stacked with glossy magazines.
A tiled sculpture adorns a corner of the upstairs library while in the main living area polished timber floorboards are contrasted by a gleaming black grand piano.
The colour scheme of creams, caramels and chocolates complement the earthy tones of the Southeast Queensland countryside.
From paddock to plate
We are ushered through the dining room onto the sun-drenched patio where a handful of guests are savouring the fruits of the chef’s labour.
Our host tries to convince us to take advantage of the brilliant Queensland weather with a picnic in the meadows. But a waiter sails past with a tempting demitasse of warm tomato soup and we’re quick to settle for a table on the patio.A few minutes later, the waiter returns with two glasses of chilled Victorian Pinot Gris.
As we nibble on char-grilled prawns with trussed cherry tomatoes and pesto, our eyes soak in the tranquil vista of green paddocks and hills capped by three-dimensional white clouds framed against the brilliant blue Queensland sky.
More wine appears, this time a 2003 Clare Valley Peppertree Vineyard Shiraz. Being the last to arrive for lunch, there is only one portion of barramundi left.
My husband graciously gives in and orders the veal, which comes with sautéed cauliflower, spinach and grilled figs.
As the al-fresco atmosphere is relaxed and casual, we end up sharing our meals, both of which turn out to be mouth-wateringly scrumptious.The friendly and attentive staff is constantly alert to the needs of guests.
By the time our chocolate fondant desserts are placed in front of us we know that our stomachs are in trouble, for in only a few hours time we’ll have to do this all over again.
Dinner is a seven-course degustation menu served with a different Australian wine to match each course.
The ambience in the indoor-outdoor dining room is intimate and ideal for romantic couples.
After dinner, we sink into a plush suede lounge in front of the fireplace with our dessert plates of chocolate brownie, vanilla bean ice cream and poached cumquats.
Guests trickle into the lounge and one gentleman pulls out the stool at the baby grand delighting us with a skilful jazzy number.
A walk in the woods
As the food is mouth-wateringly tempting there is no such thing as skipping meals at Spicers Peak Lodge.
Your choices are to sleep it off or work it off.
One afternoon, we walk to Ryan’s Lookout, where we are stunned by the beauty of the scenic rim.
The wilderness landscape of craggy escarpments, hidden passes and magnificent peaks soar above the plunging valley.
This semi-circle of mountains about 110km to the west and south of Brisbane stretches down to the New South Wales border where it merges with the Great Dividing Range.Another time, we follow the sign to the Lodge Plateau Walk that takes us on a stroll through lush paddocks past Scottish Highland cattle with shaggy mops that fall over big brown eyes.
Wandering around this 3600-hectare working cattle property has a calming effect on the nerves which is almost as effective as a yoga session.If walking is not your cup of tea you can try mountain biking, play tennis or request a four-wheel drive tour of the property.
Nearby, the Granite Belt is building a reputation for itself as an upcoming wine-growing region with award-winning wines that are exported to places as diverse as the United Kingdom, Canada, Taiwan and Vanuatu.
Back at the lodge, still trying to work off lunch, we decline the offer of afternoon tea.
I choose a book from the library and curl up in the study nook while my husband joins other guests at the pool table.
Soon, my heavy eyelids lead me to an afternoon nap in our suite, one of only 10 at the lodge.Most suites have verandas where you can watch the grazing cows, fireplaces made from the same stone ballast blocks imported from Scotland, king-sized beds, luxurious furnishings, CD and DVD players.
Some even have snug daybeds fitted beneath the windows.
Bathrooms are stocked with L’Occitane bath products while spa rooms have circular spa baths that are set beneath glass panels.As dusk descends, we lounge in the outdoor spa watching the setting sun bath the meadows and ranges in a cascade of golden light.
We raise our champagne flutes and toast to spas, sunsets, cattle and fine dining.
For more ideas on what to do in Queensland, we’ve compiled a big list of Queensland stuff. But if you’re looking for an adrenalin rush or a really special experience there’s plenty on offer in Australia’s Sunshine State.
Queensland has amazing beaches and wonderful tropical islands. And the capital, Brisbane, is a city on the move. Brisbane’s international flavour extends to craft beer and great coffee. An hour’s drive south will land you in the Gold Coast, which has some of Australia’s best beaches and a lovely hinterland.