Although most people may not think of Queensland as a winemaking state, there’s a wine region near Brisbane that produces excellent wine and is a fabulous place to visit for good food, fresh air and fantastic scenery. Besides visiting wineries, there are plenty of things to do in Stanthorpe, the main town, and beyond.
Swirl and sip viognier, mourvedre or tempranillo in the vineyards or rug up in front of a fireplace with a shiraz, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. Along with drinking wine, other things to do in the Granite Belt revolve around food. The region’s producers dish up a delicious blend of artisan and traditional country fare.
- 31 Things To Do In Stanthorpe
- Stanthorpe Wineries
- Granite Belt Farms
- Experiences around Stanthorpe
- 16- Attend A Baking Class At Zest Pastries
- 17- Go On A Coffee Crawl
- 18- Castle Glen Australia
- 19- Afternoon Tea At Wallangarra Railway Station
- 20- Taste Jams at Jamworks
- 21- Hunt for Truffles at the Truffle Discovery Centre
- 22- Taste Cheese at Stanthorpe Cheese
- 23- Heavenly Chocolate
- 24- Meet the Candlemakers at Anna’s Candles
- 25- Learn To Make Soap At Washpool Wellness
- 26- Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival
- Granite Belt and Stanthorpe Accommodation
- How to get to Granite Belt
- What to wear?
31 Things To Do In Stanthorpe
Centred around the town of Stanthorpe, at 1000m above sea level, the Granite Belt is one of Australia’s highest wine regions. The region has over 50 vineyards and Stanthorpe is the place to try lesser-known wine varieties like Saperavi, Fiano, Montepulciano and Mourvedre.
1- Lunch at Ballandean Estate
The founder of Ballandean Estate, Angelo Puglisi, is a key figure in Queensland’s wine industry and this is the oldest family-owned and operated winery in Queensland.
Dine in the Barrel Room Restaurant near 160-year old barrels on a modern-Australian menu that has Italian influences.
Handmade gnocchi pasta is on the menu, which is a celebration of the Granite Belt and all that is fresh, seasonal and local.
Ballandean Estate has been producing wine since 1932.
The winery is open every day (9 am to 5 pm), and the restaurant serves lunch from Thursday to Monday (1 am to 4 pm) and dinner on Friday and Saturday.
Ballandean Estate is at 354 Sundown Rd Ballandean QLD 4382.
2- Drink Sparkling Rose At Girraween Estate
One of the unique aspects of Granite Belt wineries is many are run by owners who work passionately to produce wine.
One example is former chemical engineer Steve Messiter who works tirelessly with his partner Lisa on all steps of the winemaking chain, from tending to the vines to running the cellar door.
Messiter’s love of wine led him to complete a Masters degree in Wine Technology and Viticulture.
The vineyard near Girraween National Park produces red and white wines from grapes grown on the estate.
Girraween Estate is at 41 Hickling Lane, Wyberba via Ballandean QLD.
3- Watch The Sunset At Balancing Heart Vineyard
The winemaker at Balancing Heart Vineyard, Mike Hayes, is also the winemaker at Sirromet Wines.
Australian Winemaker of the Year in 2017, Mike Hayes is also the President of the Queensland Wine Industry Association.
The vineyard’s name was inspired by a natural granite rock that sits among the Shiraz vines.
The cellar door offers tastings of Verdelho, Viognier, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Syrah, while the wineries signature blends are the Campfire White and Campfire Red.
It’s a lovely spot for lunch seven days a week and woodfire pizza dinners from Friday to Sunday nights (bookings required).
Balancing Heart Vineyard is at 221 Old Wallangarra Road, Wyberba, via Ballandean Qld.
4- Start the Strangebird Alternative Wine Trail at Ridgemill
Visit the cellar door at Ridgemill Estate, meet winemaker Peter McGlashan and get into a wine tasting session.
Besides the usual suspects – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot and Shiraz – Ridgemill Estate is a good starting point to taste little-known varietals on the Strangebird Alternative Wine Trail.
Try jacquez, saperavi, tempranillo, viognier and verdelhoor.
Other alternative wines to discover along the trail are barbera, cabernet franc, durif, graciano and nero d’Avola.
The estate has beautifully furnished contemporary luxury cabins with views of the vineyard.
Ridgemill Estate is at 218 Donges Road, Severnlea.
5- Meet The King of Verdelho at Robert Channon Wines
Taste Verdelho and meet the Granite Belt’s ‘King of the Verdelho’ at Robert Channon Wines’ cellar door. Winery owners Peggy and Robert Channon often serve at the cellar door.
Their highly-awarded Verdelho came about from a stroke of luck when the winery planted Verdelho vines after an order for Chardonnay vines fell through.
Argentinian born Paola Andrea Cabezas Bono is the winemaker at Robert Channon Wines and has been producing award-winning wines at the winery since 2014.
The winery has lovely views of the Singing Lake and is a top spot for classical and jazz concerts.
Robert Channon Wines was the first to receive a five-star rating from James Halliday and Queen Elizabeth II was served their wines during an official visit to Brisbane.
The winery has consistently produced award-winning wines since 2001.
Robert Channon Wines is at 32 Bradley Lane, Amiens.
6- The Little Larder
The Little Larder Stanthorpe is the place to go for a city cafe breakfast.
Owner Cam Giddings brought his experience as a flight attendant on international routes to Stanthorpe while grounded during the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020.
Think smashed avocado on sourdough and eggs benedict.
For a hearty feed, order the breakfast board of eggs, bacon and pork sausage served with potato rosti, grilled tomato, halloumi and mushrooms.
The menu has shades of New York, with its American-style Reuben sandwich with silverside, pastrami, sauerkraut, dijon mustard and swiss cheese on sourdough.
Little Larder is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch (7 am to 2 pm) and dinner on Friday and Saturday at 19 Railway Street, Stanthorpe Qld.
7- St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro
A relative newcomer to the Granite Belt, St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro showcases wine labelled “4382 TERROIR”, which has a picture of the distinctive Egyptian-style Ballandean Pyramid on the label.
4382 is the Ballandean postcode, highlighting that the wine is locally grown and produced from rare grape varietals such as Lagrien Cerasuolo, Prieto Picudo and Mencia.
Pair wines with a choice of tempting dishes from the menu, such as feta stuffed deep-fried olives, mushroom arancini, beef carpaccio and lasagne rustico.
St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 4382 New England Hwy, Ballandean.
8- Dine at Varias Restaurant at The Queensland College of Wine Tourism
Varias Restaurant is a Granite Belt institution and part of the Queensland College of Wine Tourism.
The college offers training on a range of subjects, from viticulture and oenology to tourism, hospitality and business.
Book a table and place an order for the signature dish ‘The Medley of Mains’, which changes with the seasons and the food is paired with matching wines from the region.
Varias Restaurant is at The Queensland College of Wine Tourism, 22 Caves Road, Stanthorpe.
9- Eat Bratwurst and Drink Beer at Granite Belt Brewery
Brisbane’s craft beer craze has reached the Granite Belt.
Drink beer and eat bratwurst at the Granite Belt Brewery, where ales and lagers are created in this 1000 litre microbrewery.
There’s a range of choices for everyone, from a dark chocolate porter with coffee undertones to the summer ginger low alcohol pale ale.
Wash down tasty tidbits from the Brewers Platter, which has four dishes paired to complement the beers.
A good time to visit for the atmosphere and live music is during the Beer & Bratwurst events.
Granite Belt Brewery is at 146 Glenlyon Drive, Stanthorpe.
10- Dine at Essen Restaurant, Stanthorpe
Enjoy home-cooked Austrian food at Essen Restaurant, which has a menu prepared with fresh local ingredients from the region.
The cacio e pepe souffle made with Stanthorpe Cheese and native mountain pepper is delicious.
Tuck into hearty pan-fried gnocchi with pork ragout and an autumn garden salad.
Meals are cooked with love and very affordable ($50 for two courses and $65 for three courses).
Essen Restaurant is at 2 McGregor Terrace, Stanthorpe.
Granite Belt Farms
Known for its granite soil that encourages fruit and vegetables to thrive, it’s not surprising many of the things to do in the Granite Belt involve fruit orchards.
Buy apples, figs and berries from roadside stalls, pack a picnic with local cheeses, olives and artisan bread or join a cooking school.
11- Go Christmas Shopping At The Granite Belt Christmas Farm
The Granite Belt Christmas Farm is a fantastic destination for families and fans of Christmas decorations.
The Mistletoe Store has an impressive array of Christmas decorations and shiny things.
Mrs Claus Kitchen serves a light breakfast, gourmet burgers, chips and afternoon tea.
The Belgian hot chocolate is to-die-for, and Rudolph’s Ice Cream Bar has an assortment of flavours, including Christmas cake gelato.
The farm has 10,000 Christmas trees and an animal farm where you can feed the chooks, reindeer, goats, donkeys and sheep.
Granite Belt Christmas Farm is at 321 Aerodrome Road, Applethorpe, near Stanthorpe.
12- Orchard Experience at McMahon’s Orchard
The Orchard Experience in Pozieres offers a walking tour of the McMahon Bros Orchard, 20 minutes north of Stanthorpe.
It’s an authentic farm experience and a chance to chat with local farming family farming members.
The family has farmed this land for four generations.
Brunch in the orchard among the apple trees is an experience to remember.
McMahon Bros Orchard is at 638 Pozieres Road, Pozieres, Queensland.
13- Eat Apple Pie At Sutton’s Juice Factory
Sutton’s is a working apple orchard with a cafe and store, where you can buy apple products like pure apple juice, apple brandy, apple syrup, cider and other treats.
The apple products are made by hand on the premises.
Pop in for a taste of apple pie served with spiced cider ice cream (delicious!).
In 2019, the Sutton’s Juice Factory won the silver medal at the Sydney Royal for its dry cider and silver at the Sydney Fine Food Show for their pink lady, ginger apple and apple beetroot juices.
Sutton’s Juice Factory is at Halloran Drive, Thulimbah (opposite the BIG Apple).
14- Pick Strawberries at Ashbern Farms
After picking strawberries at Ashbern Farms, enjoy a sweet treat of homemade ice cream, chocolate-dipped strawberries or waffles in the cafe.
Ashbern Farms grows organic strawberries using sustainable practices and biological control to manage pests and diseases.
Wandering among the rows of strawberries looking for red and sweet fruit to pick is a fun way to spend some time during strawberry picking season from October to May.
Ashbern Farms is at 2 West Road, Stanthorpe.
15- Stock up At Sam’s Fruit & Veg Supplies
Stanthorpe is a major apple-growing region in Australia so if you can’t make it out to a farm, Sam’s Fresh Fruit & Veg is the place to stock up on fresh produce.
The main apple varieties are Pink Lady, Red Delicious and Royal Gala.
Buy strawberries, raspberries and blueberries straight from the farms at Sam’s in summer.
Sink your teeth into a crispy apple and chew on the sweet taste of the Granite Belt.
Many of the region’s farmers are of Italian descent, so the Granite Belt is known as “Little Italy”.
Apple orchards are around the northern and western part of the region not far from Stanthorpe and near Cottonvale, Thulimbah and Pozieres.
Sam’s Fruit and Veg is open from 7 am to 5.30 pm daily at 44 Middleton Road, Cottonvale.
Experiences around Stanthorpe
Looking for something local to take home? Here are some places to visit in the Granite Belt, where you can pick up great local gifts.
16- Attend A Baking Class At Zest Pastries
Learning to bake with Swiss-trained pastry chef Stephen Lambert is as much of a treat as it is to eat his pies, croissants and tarts.
At ZEST, all pastries and bread are handmade with love.
The bread and pastry-making classes are a fun activity to do with family and friends.
Lambert is passionate about baking in the traditional way and is particularly proud of his sourdough, flour, salt, water and love.
In Stanthorpe, ZEST is famous for its fresh baked goods, such as pies and almond croissants, made from scratch at the bakery.
Zest Pastries is at 54 Maryland Street, Stanthorpe.
17- Go On A Coffee Crawl
Caramel macchiato, soy latte or skinny flat white or however you like your coffee, you’ll find Stanthorpe’s coffee culture is taking off. Here’s where to go for good coffee:
- Commercial Coffee Stop – This atmospheric coffee haunt opened in 2020 in the old Commercial Hotel building.
- Bean Better Coffee window – The coffee window opened in 2020 and is a popular takeaway coffee spot.
- Zest – A top spot for coffee and pastries.
- The Little Larder – Pop in for eggs benedict or a brekky burger with your coffee.
18- Castle Glen Australia
Castle Glen has won multiple awards at Australian Distilled Spirits Awards throughout the years, including gold medals for its pecan and hazelnut liqueur, rum and ginger liqueur.
In 2020, it won gold for its aromatic bitters.
Liqueur and spirits maker Cedric Millar is passionate about creating produces using traditional methods and free from preservatives.
Inside the castle is a sea of coloured bottles filled with gin, single malt whiskey, various liqueurs, ciders and wine, all chemical and preservative-free.
Grapes in the vineyard are grown without pesticides or synthetic sprays, and creme liqueurs are dairy-free.
Castle Glen is at 3184 Amiens Road, Thulimbah.
19- Afternoon Tea At Wallangarra Railway Station
Soak up the vintage atmosphere over tea and scones in the Wallangarra Railway Station’s historic refreshment room or outdoors on the platform.
Built in 1888, Wallangarra Station served as an exchange stop between New South Wales’ standard gauge trains and Queensland’s narrow-gauge trains.
The station straddles the two states, and there’s a line on the platform dividing NSW and Queensland.
Each side of the platform reflects the architecture and design of the different states.
Wallangarra Railway Station Cafe is open from 8 am to 3 pm every day of the week at Rockwell Street, Wallangarra Qld.
20- Taste Jams at Jamworks
Jamworks has an impressive collection of gourmet jams, relishes and chutneys.
What’s more, the products are made from ingredients sourced in the Granite Belt and have been awarded medals at the Australian Food Awards and the Royal Sydney.
Jamworks Gourmet Foods & Larder is at 7 Townsend Road, Glen Aplin.
21- Hunt for Truffles at the Truffle Discovery Centre
Take a guided tour at the Truffle Discovery Centre to discover Stanthorpe’s French Black Perigord Truffle.
A guided tour of the centre offers food tastings of truffle-infused products like honey, oils and mustard. Have you tried truffle triple cream brie?
The gift store is where you can stock up on products like truffle oil and truffle honey.
Truffle Discovery Centre 335 Church Rd, The Summit, Stanthorpe.
22- Taste Cheese at Stanthorpe Cheese
Visit the tasting room at Stanthorpe Cheese in the highest (and coldest) farm in Queensland.
The cheese at Stanthorpe Cheese comes from a herd of purebred Jersey cows straight from the farm, with no artificial flavours or preservatives.
There’s a daily selection of cheeses to sample along with chutneys, relishes, fruit and wine.
Have a ploughman’s lunch and a glass of wine in the ‘Jersey Girls Cafe’ or pick up supplies for a picnic to take with you to a winery.
Stanthorpe Cheese is at 4 Duncan Lane, Thulimbah.
23- Heavenly Chocolate
Heavenly Chocolate has a delightful range of hand-crafted chocolate.
Enjoy a creamy hot chocolate while nibbling on dainty chocolates in the garden.
The chocolates are lovingly crafted and melt in your mouth and the chocolatier is in high demand, with chocolate orders coming in from around the country.
Heavenly Chocolate is at 2117 Pyramids Rd, Wyberba.
24- Meet the Candlemakers at Anna’s Candles
Pick up a candle made from pure soybean wax from Anna’s Candles.
Candles are hand-poured and infused with fragrant oils.
You’ll find it challenging to choose from the large selection, which includes temptations like sweet lemongrass, fresh coffee, french pear and Chanel No 5 candles.
Anna’s Candles is at 7 Townsend Road, Glen Aplin.
25- Learn To Make Soap At Washpool Wellness
Washpool Wellness is a boutique specialising in natural soaps that are hand made.
Join a workshop and get hands-on experience making baths soaks and soaps out of natural ingredients including cold-pressed edible oils, butters, milks, botanicals, clay, honey, fruit and vegetables.
It’s a fun learning experience where you’ll get to take home lots of bars of soap.
Washpool Wellness is at 16 Bents Road, Ballandean.
26- Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival
Join in the fun and experience the stomping of the grapes during the annual Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival.
The 10-day festival is held every two years and includes food and wine stalls, a grand parade, golf competitions, busking championships, markets and long lunches.
Apple Day is the day for the apple pie and apple jelly competitions, where contestants make homemade pastry and use fresh apples.
A fun event is the Longest Apple Peel competition, which is fiercely competitive and a lot of fun.
Kerrie Stratford is the reigning champion, with a 6.1m apple peel.
The Apple & Grape Harvest Festival is held in several venues in the Granite Belt.
27- Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery
Stanthorpe has a creative community, and the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery is the place to see local art.
Every two years, the gallery displays entries to the Stanthorpe Art Prize Exhibition, one of Australia’s top regional art competitions.
This prize has been run biennially since 1972 and is one of the most valuable regional art prizes in Australia.
Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery is at 56 Lock Street, Stanthorpe.
28- Go On The Mural Walking Trail
Wander around the streets of Stanthorpe, and you will see many colourful and creative works of art, from sculptures to street art. The Artistic Stanthorpe Walking Trail highlights include:
- Whatever the weather, we stand together – featuring the 2019 bushfire emergency services.
- Interactive Murals are a fun and colourful collection of murals where you can put yourself in the picture.
- Memories: A Great Place To Live on Maryland Street is one of the newer murals consisting of a collection of scenes that stretches across three shops in Maryland Street.
- Brass Monkey is a bronze sculpture that is a landmark in Stanthorpe and a reminder that the weather in Stanthorpe can get cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.
- Next to the Brass Monkey, there’s a mural of Angelo Valiante, one of the first Italian settlers in Stanthorpe.
29- Ride The Steam Train
Once a month, the Downs Explorer Steam train offers tourist steam train trips between Warwick and Wallangarra.
The Southern Downs Steam Railway Association Inc (SDSR) is a not-for-profit heritage steam railway run by volunteers.
The trains have been operating on Queensland Rail’s main lines chugging through the Southern Darling Downs and Granite Belt Regions.
The Downs Explorer stops to let passengers out for a two-course lunch at Wallangarra Station and includes a tour to Girraween National Park and around Stanthorpe.
30- Hike Girraween National Park
Girraween National Park’s unique attractions are its unique granite boulders balanced in gravity-defying positions, such as the Balancing Rock giant boulder balanced on a mountaintop.
Sprawled across 117 sq km, Girraween National Park’s natural rock formations have sculpted by nature over tens of millions of years.
There are several walks to choose from, including the easy Balk Rock Creek Circuit and the Granite Arch or the more challenging climb to the summit of the First Pyramid with epic views and a close look at the incredible 10-tonne balancing boulder.
31- Discover the mysterious Ballandean Pyramid
You’re probably not expecting to see a pyramid in the Granite Belt.
20 minutes south of Stanthorpe, towards Tenterfield on the New England Highway, Built from blocks of local granite, is a 17.5 m high pyramid built from 7,500 tonnes of rock.
It was built by a local using an excavator and dump truck and it on private property.
Building the pyramid took eight months to complete but who would have thought it would become one of the top attractions near Stanthorpe?
The Ballandean Pyramid is on Jacobsens Road, Ballandean.
Granite Belt and Stanthorpe Accommodation
Kurrajong Barn & Cottages
Set in the bush, Kurrajong Barn & Cottages consists of The Barn, which sleeps 10, and Blue Wren Cottage, which sleeps four. The Barn has five bedrooms including a loft and is well set up for extended families. It has two living areas, three bathrooms and an outdoor entertaining area with an outdoor fire pit, gas barbecue and woodfired stove. The deck is perfect for gazing at the stars.
Kurrajong Barn & Cottages is at 2625 Eukey Rd. Ballandean.
The Straw House Farm B&B
The Straw House Farm B&B has two straw bale cottages on a 22-acres farm. Accommodation is dog friendly, and activities include picnics in the apple orchard, feeding the chickens, highland cattle, alpacas, Scottish Belter Galloway cows and miniature goats (they love raisin toast!).
Straw House Farm B&B is at 21 Straw House Lane, Dalveen.
Girraween Environmental Lodge
Girraween has chalets among the trees where you can escape from the world as it has no mobile coverage, internet or television reception.
Girraween Environmental Lodge is at Pyramids Road, Wyberba.
31 The Rocks Stanthorpe offers self-contained studio, one and two-bedroom villas with continental breakfast baskets. Set in a landscape of bushland and rocky granite outcrops, there are two walking tracks on the property. A walk to the top of the granite slope offers spectacular views while the other shorter stroll through the bush passing beautiful granite rock formations.
31 The Rocks is at 31 Brunckhorst Avenue, Stanthorpe.
Apple Blossom Cottage
The 1900’s Apple Blossom Cottage is in a quiet street and a short stroll to the centre of Stanthorpe. The three-bedroom cottage sleeps up to six and has polished timber floors, large living areas and a wood fire.
Apple Blossom Cottage is at 14 Omara Terrace, Stanthorpe.
Experience the definition of glamping at Alure Stanthorpe in a luxurious tent that has a full kitchen and double-vanity ensuite. There’s a four-poster bed and a chandelier to set the romantic mood. It’s an experience for luxury lovers.
Allure Stanthorpe is at 280 Mt Tully Road, Stanthorpe.
For more things to do in Queensland read:
How to get to Granite Belt
The good news is you’re not in for a long drive as the region is just over two and a half hours from Brisbane.
Although you could visit Stanthorpe as a day trip destination from Brisbane, you wouldn’t be doing the area justice so plan to spend at least two nights in the region.
If you only have a short time to spend, Granite Highlands Maxi Tours offers half and full-day tours to Stanthorpe for reasonable prices from Brisbane.
Also read: Where To Stay in Brisbane
What to wear?
- Smart casual with something a little more dressy if you’re planning to dine at Varias Restaurant;
- Comfortable walking shoes;
- Jeans and a nice dress or slacks;
- If you’re planning on hiking: sunscreen, hats and comfortable joggers.