Exploring Stanthorpe And Granite Belt

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Although most people don’t 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 wine tasting, 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. Besides drinking wine, other things to do in the Granite Belt revolve around food. The region’s producers are a blend of artisan and traditional country fare.

Also read:

20 Incredible Things To Do In Stanthorpe

Wine and Dine

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- Start the Strangebird Alternative Wine Trail at Ridgemill

stanthorpe cellar door
Ridgemill Estate cellar door: Going wine tasting is one of the top things to do in Stanthorpe.

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.

2- Eat Tapas and Drink Wine at Robert Channon Wines

granite belt winery
Eating tapas and drinking wine at Robert Channon Wines is one of the fantastic things to do in the Granite Belt.

Enjoy a Spanish Argentinian-style menu paired with award-winning wines.

Argentinian born Paola Andrea Cabezas Bono is the winemaker at Robert Channon Wines and the chef of Paola’s the Winemakers Kitchen.

The winery has lovely views of the Singing Lake and regularly hosts concerts for classical and jazz music fans.

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.

3- St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro

sirromet
Tasting Sirromet wine at St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro.

A newcomer to the Granite Belt, St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro is a satellite cellar door for Sirromet and an alternative to visiting Sirromet’s cellar door.

Winning over 900 awards, both in Australia and overseas, Sirromet is the most well-known wine brand in Queensland.

Pair Sirromet’s wines with a choice of tempting dishes from the menu, such as an entree of seared Hervey Bay king prawns and main of five-spice confit duck leg.

St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro is at 4382 New England Hwy, Ballandean.

4- Dine at Varias Restaurant at The Queensland College of Wine Tourism

stanthorpe
Dining at Varias is one of the top attractions around Stanthorpe.

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.

5- Eat Bratwurst and Drink Beer at Granite Belt Brewery

stanthorpe brewery
Enjoy local craft 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.

6- 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.

Apples and Strawberries

stanthorpe strawberries
Eating strawberries and ice cream is one of the attractions in the Granite Belt.

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.

7- 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).

8- Pick Strawberries at Ashbern Farms

strawberry picking stanthorpe
Going strawberry picking is a fun thing to do in Stanthorpe.

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.

Shopping 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.

9- Taste Jams at Jamworks

stanthorpe jamworks
Another thing to do when visiting Stanthorpe is to go jam tasting 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.

10- 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.

11- 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.

12- Heavenly Chocolate

things to do in stanthorpe
Treat yourself to Stanthorpe chocolates.

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.

13- 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.

14- Learn To Make Soap At Washpool Wellness

stanthorpe soaps
Visiting this soaperie is one of the relaxing things to do in the Granite Belt,.

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.

15- Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival

stanthorpe apples
Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival is an event to put on your calendar.

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.

Explore

16- 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.

17- Discover the mysterious Ballandean Pyramid

granite belt pyramid
Checking out the pyramid is one of the things to do in Stanthorpe on the way to the national park.

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.

Where To Stay In Granite Belt

31TheRocks

stanthorpe accommodation
Looking for accommodation in Stanthorpe? Here’s a lovely view at 31 The Rocks. 

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.

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.

Allure 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.

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?

wine tasting stanthorpe
One of the top things to do in Stanthorpe is wine tasting.
  • 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.
Stanthorpe
Stanthorpe
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I'm a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia, when I'm not on the road. I've lived in three continents and my career as a travel journalist has taken me to all seven continents. Since 2003, I have contributed travel stories to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. I have won many travel writing awards and I'm a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.

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