When I was *invited by Tourism and Events Qld to visit the Scenic Rim, I felt very guilty about not knowing much about the region. One of the great drawcards of the area must surely be that it is only an hour or so south-west of Brisbane. You leave suburbia (and sometimes mobile coverage) far behind and enter a world that is traffic light free, dotted with National Parks and dams, country hospitality and is home to any number of hooved friends. But why is it called the Scenic Rim?
The Scenic Rim is part of the Great Dividing Range which, for those who may be reading this farther afield, is a mountain range that runs north to south along the length of eastern Australia. It divides the greener pastoral land and forests of the east coast from the virtually rain free interior of Australia – the ‘red centre’. The rim is the edge of what remains of an ancient volcano. The area is a rural idyll that is increasingly popular with tree changers and those looking to get away from the daily grind but still wanting good espresso. My weekend in the Scenic Rim showed me just how diverse the area is. Here’s a taster.
Activities & Accommodation
Scenic Rim Hampers & Alpaca Picnics
No doubt at some stage you’ve driven past a property with a couple of alpacas or a llama wandering around the paddock. Scenic Rim Hampers offers you the chance to BYO food and get up close and personal with these delightful ambassadors of the area. For a small fee you can picnic in beautifully manicured gardens and spend some time meeting and feeding the locals. As cute as the alpacas are (and they are adorable) they’re really only interested in the food. The llamas on the other hand, are very engaging. They are incredibly interested in visitors and will spend a long time looking at and considering you and even posing for photos.
There is also a small shop on site with Scenic Rim produce such as local honey, macadamias and chutneys as well the occasional alpaca wool product. If there’s a product that really takes your fancy, you can order a hamper of Scenic Rim products, online. An excellent place to break for lunch as you tour the area.
More Information: Scenic Rim Hampers
Lillydale Farm Stay
Lillydale is a fully working farm running Angus beef cattle. It is operated by fourth, fifth and sixth generation farmers, the Hardgrave family who have run the farm stay for the past 16 years. It offers everything from cow milking and chicken feeding to horse-riding, wildlife spotting or a dip in the swimming pool. There’s also a hedge maze that you can lose the kids in for a few hours. Our visit included a short trail ride, hoping to give our American friend her first ‘koala in the wild’ spotting but alas, it was not to be. Returning to the stable, we were greeted by this cocky individual, strutting his stuff.
In fact, the chickens wandering about the farm are very amusing and keen to follow just in case you have food hidden in your pocket. The donkeys are also keen to get to know you better if you bring a carrot or two. Accommodation includes modern rooms with kitchenettes as well as a self-contained eco cabin. Your stay is self-catered but there’s an option to pre-order meals, BBQ and breakfast hampers to save you lugging food from home. The farmhouse is a beautiful Queenslander with views out to Mt Barney one way and to the Qld/NSW Border Ranges the other. There are plenty of places to relax in the shade and take in the view or enjoy a snooze.
More Information: Lillydale Farm Stay
Mt Barney Lodge
As the name would imply, Mt Barney Lodge sits in the shadows of Mt Barney, the fourth highest peak in Qld. The Lodge is in fact a large property that includes camping, a couple of rustic cabins and a few large Queenslanders that have been moved there from elsewhere in the region.
We spent the night in Moringararah, a classic sprawling wooden house that reflects the passing of years as rooms have been re-purposed and added to. Comfortable with an old fashioned charm that made me feel a little like I had stepped into my Grandmother’s house. There is no mobile coverage in the immediate area so whether you are on the porch or sitting around one of the fire pits you’ll just have to watch the visiting red-necked wallabies and the clouds drifting over the range as you enjoy a local drop.
In addition to accommodation, the Lodge offers a variety of programs ranging from school holiday activities such as bush craft and wildlife spotting through to corporate team building events. The staff also lead more vigorous pursuits such as rock climbing and return guided hikes to the peak of Mt Barney. If you’re going to give the hike a go: Time – allow 12 hours. Fitness level – ridiculous!
More Information: Mt Barney Lodge
Wine & Food
I have already written about my visit to Kooroomba Lavender Farm & Vineyard and Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard, just two of the 17 wineries in the region. But a girl cannot live on grapes alone.
Poppi’s Wholefood Store & Cafe
The people formerly behind Wild Grain at the Commercial Hotel in Boonah also run the newly revitalised Poppi’s, a wholefood café. Poppi’s is in the midst of moving to larger premises with an expanded café serving good local produce offered in modern styles including vegan, vegetarian and raw dishes. From heritage tomato bruschetta to chia desserts, they bring a little of the city to the country . There’s also local meat dishes so confirmed carnivores need not fear the ‘wholefood’ tag. Caffeine addicts can get their fix including cold brew and there’s also a chance to pick up local goodies such as White Gold Creamery’s cultured butter.
More Information: Poppi’s Wholefood Store & Cafe
Classi di Cucina Italiana
Drive past the chef’s apron hanging in the tree, up the unpaved goat track for several kilometres and through the gates (you can’t miss them) to arrive at Classi di Cucina Italiana. This off the grid cooking school perched on the edge of a billabong is operated by former Schonell Pizza Café owners Desley and Pietro Agnoletto. Classes are held in a purpose built pavilion around a wood fired oven.
The cooking class I undertook was hugely enjoyable. If you wanted to help knead the dough you could. If you weren’t keen, there was no pressure. This was the same with the dough cutting, weighing and the actual creation of the pizza. After a glass of wine and a chat, people jumped in when they were comfortable rather than being forced to do so. The spontaneous nature of the class added to the enjoyment. If pizza doesn’t take your fancy, there are classes in pasta and gelato making. Whether you’re interested in doing a class or visiting as part of the World’s Apart festival, it’s well worth poking your head in the door to check out the sandstone and granite sculptures on the property and to dissect the state of world affairs with Pietro. The pizza is pretty good too.
More information: Classi di Cucina Italiana
On your way home, swing past The Dugandan Pub for a quick drink or to check out the band playing in the beer garden on weekends. It’s not swish. In fact, far from it. It does however offer an unpolished country charm that makes a nice change from the homogenised pubs in many suburbs these days. It’s a chance to taste some of those Scenic Rim wines or even enjoy a Fat Man Maroon Ale, produced by the Scenic Rim Brewery.