3 Day Itinerary: Mid-week in Wine Country
You’ve heard mid-week is best for ‘3rd night free’ offers and similar bonuses in Granite Belt Wine Country… so here’s your easy 3-Day itinerary for experiencing the food and wine spots operating Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday around Stanthorpe and Ballandean.
Plan to have a designated driver, or even more clever, book your own personal wine tour guide. View four local tour guides who offer tours mid-week, even for couples!
Tuesday Breakfast or Brunch: Locally Sourced Food!
Start your day with breakfast or brunch at Jamworks Gourmet Foods Cafe & Larder and we guarantee your Granite Belt locally-grown foodie experiences will be off to a delicious start! The whole philosophy here is using Granite Belt grown produce and the menu is the most divine way to taste the range of more than 100 jams and sauces which are made onsite. There’s a tasting bar so you can try more of the delicious range before you leave. View the Jamworks breakfast menu.
TIP: When you’re done, you might want to pop next door to the charming old school house building and meet Anna at Anna’s Candles, where she handcrafts and displays hundreds of soy bean wax candles.
Find it: 7 Townsend Road, Glen Aplin (10 minutes south of Stanthorpe)
Both Jamworks and Anna’s Candles are Tuesdays: 9am – 4.30pm
Tuesday Morning: Meet the Winemakers!
Time to hit the wine tasting trail around the area south and west of Stanthorpe, where three cellar doors are open that each offer a wine tasting experience, with the winemakers themselves!
At Jester Hill Wines meet Ann and Mick Bourke, who not only tend the vineyards and make the wine, but are also your tasting guides at the cellar door. This is the beauty of the Granite Belt’s many boutique wineries – you’ll often encounter the winemakers, who can share the whole wine story behind each glass. A session with Ann and Mick is always a laid-back and fun tasting!
Drop in to Ridgemill Estate Wines, or book ahead if you’d like to take advantage of their special mid-week only experience – the Winemaker’s Special Tasting. Hang out with the winemaker Peter McGlashan (pictured above), for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tasting experience and cheese platter ($40 per couple or enquire about other costings). Dependant on what’s happening in processing at the time, enjoy unreleased vintages, barrell tastings, tank samples and Ridgemill premium wines tastings!
Experience vertical tastings and expect a personalised wine tour when you arrive at Casley Mt Hutton Winery. It’s no surprise they have just been awarded Gourmet Traveller WINE’s Best Cellar Door 2019 for their best Additional Experience – because Sonya and Grant Casley offer so much to every visitor!
Tuesday Lunch: World-class Dining Experience!
Varias Restaurant is located at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism in Stanthorpe and offers a world class dining experience! Their a la carte lunch menu has a focus on the best in local Granite Belt produce and is prepared and served by hospitality students to a high industry standard. The restaurant overlooks Banca Ridge vineyard – a fitting view as you are presented with perfectly matched Banca Ridge wines with your meal. View the menu
Find it: 22 Caves Road, Stanthorpe
Tuesday Afternoon: Sightseeing and Art Trail
Choose from these spots to explore on your leisurely Tuesday afternoon around Stanthorpe.
- Donnelly’s Castle (pictured above) is a surprising and somewhat hidden spot to explore through a network of giant granite boulders, through crevices and into cave-like openings. There is a lookout too and it’s all accessed on only a short walk from the road entry, accessed 15 minutes north west of Stanthorpe.
- A short drive from Donnelly’s Castle find Stanthorpe Cheese, where cheese tastings are available (4 Duncan Lane, Thulimbah, Open to 4pm)
- Be surprised at the antiques and splendour of the vast Heritage Estate Wines cellar door at 747 Granite Belt Drive in Cottonvale. Fitting to the grand heritage style, you can even sit at the huge Queensland Parliament Table, which a century ago seated the MPs of Queensland! All this on top of wines perfected over decades of winemaking on the Granite Belt. Well worth planing a visit!
- Shokunin Glass Studio (25355 New England Hwy, The Summit, Open to 4pm)
- Wander Stanthorpe’s main street and follow the Street Art Trail, with its impressive murals and sculptures. Preview street art and locations map. (Pictured below: Street Art photographed by Glenda Riley)
- Plan in a stop at Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery, where visitors find this regional gallery really punches above its weight. Preview current exhibitions. (Lock Street, Stanthorpe, Free Admission, Open to 4pm)
End the day catching a sunset view from Mt Marlay Lookout overlooking Stanthorpe and before the sunset follow the short summit walk for a 360 view.
View accommodation deals here – particularly fantastic mid-week special offers!
Wednesday Morning: Granite Wonders in Girraween
Bring your walking shoes and a water bottle for an early morning start, exploring through the spectacular Girraween National Park. A walk to The Granite Arch (pictured) is along an easy going 1.6km circuit, approximately 30 minutes walk. The walk crosses Bald Rock Creek and winds through the forest past giant boulders and through the natural stone archway.
If you’re feeling more adventurous and up for steep climb, there’s the walk up to ‘The Pyramid’ (3.6km return, 1.5–2hrs). It’s an unforgettable and at times breathless journey for awesome views of Balancing Rock, Second Pyramid and across the park. You’ll need a good level of fitness and shoes with grip to climb the exposed rock face.
Girraween National Park map Note: due to bushfires in 2019, some of the other walking trails are not currently open, but The Granite Arch and The Pyramid walks were amongst those trails unaffected.
Wednesday Morning: Pyramids Road Wines
On the drive in to Girraween National Park you will have passed by Pyramids Road Wines. Drop in as you leave and meet Warren and Sue who gave away being school teachers 20 years ago to follow a new passion, creating wines. They do it all, from tending the vineyard, to pouring your glass and even foot stomping some of the wines – so you’ll really the inside story on each wine tasted! Pyramids Road Wines has a full range to taste and notably their Rose wines are often favourites with travellers.
Wednesday Lunch: On the Historic Railway Station Platform
Just 10 minutes down the road, south to Wallangarra, the historic Railway Station Cafe is a scenic spot for lunch. There is dining inside in the historic dining room, or outside on the station platforms. Here you can stand on the platform with one foot in NSW and the other in Queensland! The railway station at Wallangarra was built in 1888 to service travellers who had to change trains from the standard gauge of NSW to Queensland’s narrow gauge. Inside the station a museum displays the unique role in railway history that the Wallangarra Station played.
Wednesday Afternoon: Ballandean Pyramid
Driving back up the New England Highway it’s a must to drive by and stop for a roadside photo at the Ballandean Pyramid, which sits most unexpectedly in farm paddock! The pyramid sits on private property, so no approaching the pyramid, however the roadside is close enough to capture a view and a photo of this impressive site.
Directions: Turn off the highway (eastward towards the Ballandean Tavern) on Eukey road, then turn immediately right onto Jacobsens Road. Follow Jacobsons Road for 1.7km until you reach the giant pyramid on the right.
Lots of wineries today, so plan to have a designated driver or book on a personalised wine tour.
Thursday Morning: Ballandean Wineries (west side)
Every way you turn in Ballandean you’ll find another cellar door! Here’s four great wine stops for your Thursday in wine country, all found on the western side of Ballandean.
Find Bungawarra Wines along Bent Road and then down Sundown Road find Granite Ridge Wines then Golden Grove Estate all open on Thursdays. Ballandean Estate Wines is the last winery along Sundown Road (head there for lunch – details below).
Thursday Lunch: Dining in The Barrelroom
Dining beside the giant 150 year old barrels in the Barrelroom Restaurant at Ballandean Estate is an icon experience in Granite Belt Wine Country. The winery itself is the oldest operating winery in Queensland and its wines have established a very strong reputation over decades of Puglisi family winemaking. Lunch in the Barrelroom is served with matching Ballandean Estate Wines and the menu is a wonderful mix of locally sourced produce and some traditional Italian options based on Puglisi family recipes.
Thursday Afternoon: Ballandean Wineries (along Eukey Road)
Two more well loved wineries are open Thursdays on the eastern side of Ballandean. Travel along Eukey Road to first to Just Red Wines. Here both Tony Hassall and his son Michael are winemakers and all the wines (all red wines as you can guess!) are made on the premises from grapes grown on the property.
Further along Eukey Road find Symphony Hill Wines, who were recently awarded ‘Best Tasting Experience’ in Gourmet Traveller WINE’s List of Best Cellar Doors 2019. Ewen (pictured above) and Elissa Macpherson are big on spoiling their guests, so all their reserve range of wines are open and waiting for your visit. (Read about their ‘Business Class’ wine tastings).
Heading 6kms back up north towards Stanthorpe along the New England Highway, Rumbalara Estate Wines offers one last wine stop with a real distinct difference. They do things differently here, creating easy drinking wines, named after African animals to make it easier for their clients to remember their favourite wines. A wine tasting session here is a bit of light-hearted fun to end an amazing trip to Wine Country!
Thursday Afternoon: Pick-your-own Strawberries on Your Way Home
From October through to end of May is strawberry season at Stanthorpe’s Ashbern Farms and with pick-your-own strawberries available, this commercial strawberry farm is a favourite visitor stop! Pay by the weight purchased and take home fresh sun warmed strawberries to snack on as you drive home. The farm cafe makes a great coffee and sells treats like strawberry waffles and farm-made strawberry ice cream.