Escape to the Country

The South Burnett region is a wine-growing region in South-East Queensland almost exactly two hours due west of where we are on the Sunshine Coast. Both these facts – the wine and the short distance – made it a perfect place for a last-minute weekend getaway now that intra-state travel restrictions have been lifted.

Getting there

The plan was simple: do our usual morning walk at 6am, come home for breakfast and to pack, hit the road once the school traffic is done, stop somewhere halfway for morning tea and arrive in plenty of time for wine tasting and lunch. Too easy.

Our morning tea stop was in Kilkivan, a small town (pop 700ish) on the Wide Bay Highway not far from Gympie. As far as I could work out, Kilkivan was where gold was first discovered in Queensland. It’s also famous for the Kilkivan Great Ride – a scenic horse ride that people of all abilities come from miles around to participate in.

As for us, we just stopped for tea (me) and coffee (Grant) and an over-priced ordinary sausage roll (shared). As an aside Grant’s bought himself this portable Nespresso gadget at the camping store and was very chuffed with the result…

What happened after that might have been my fault – although I place most of the blame at Rhonda’s feet – Rhonda is the name we’ve given to our satnav.

The part that could have been a little bit my fault is that I figured that if we were lunching at Barambah Cellars and staying at Barambah Station, it was fair to say that if I put Barambah into the sat nav we’d get there…right? Yes, I thought so too.

So we headed back down the highway and turned off near a place named Kinbombi onto a narrow road. It possibly should have been a hint that things weren’t quite right when the three caravans we were following all pulled over at the turn-off and consulted maps before turning back onto the highway.

The road was lovely, but quickly narrowed, with some fabulous views across the valley.

Then Rhonda instructed us to turn right…so we did…and crossed a cattle grid onto an unsealed road. Okay, we thought as we crossed another, the car is AWD, no problems. By the third cattle grid (and confused cattle), Grant asked, ‘Are you sure we’re on the right road?’ Then Rhonda said, ‘You have arrived at your destination.’

Ummmm… we were in the middle of flipping nowhere. Barambah, it would appear, is a locality rather than a town. We had one tiny bar of reception at the exact point where Barambah (if it existed) was, and I used it to plot a course to Barambah Cellars.

We’d gone about 100m down the road (and I use the term “road” loosely) when we came to a closed stock gate – one of those ones with a sign saying it’s an agricultural biosecurity area. We’ve come to a stop at the gate and Grant is wondering how far back he has to reverse before he can find somewhere to turn around and in the meantime, Rhonda is telling is to “proceed to route proceed to route” – the route being straight through that gate. Giving up we re-traced our way back onto the highway and resolutely ignored Rhonda for the next half an hour.

Barambah Cellars

Lunch, when we finally got there, was at Barambah Cellars – a joint venture between three wine-growing families. Because of social distancing, the tastings are done as seated “wine flights”. We order an 8 flight for me (naturally) and a 5 flight for the designated driver.

The wines are good – Italian varietals mostly, like sangiovese, nebbilio and temperanillo. We also tried the viognier and rosato. With a Greek-style platter to share, it was the perfect lunch.

And yes, we brought home a few bottles…

The Stockman’s Cottage at Barambah Station

Our home for the next two nights was this cottage – the Stockman’s Cottage at Barambah Station.

Located about 5km out of Moffatdale and the wineries, Rhonda starred again and tried to get us to turn off the highway into a fenced paddock. Thankfully our host’s instructions saved the day.

This cottage had everything we could need and more for a weekend getaway. With a fully equipped kitchen and nothing open for meals close by, we chose to buy groceries from the supermarket at Murgon (about 16kms away) and cooked our evening meals outside on the portable gas burner we’d brought with us. Not only did it save us from having to clean the stove when we left, but we could also pretend that we were cooking over a campfire. #sadbuttrue. Besides, the stars were amazing.

With very little phone reception there was nothing for it but to open one of those bottles of wine, set out some cheese, grab a book from the bookshelf, and settle back and listen to the serenity – and the lowing of the cattle.

Barambah Station

The station has been running since 1843, with the homestead (up the hill from our cottage) being built in 1905 (or thereabouts). These days the owners run mostly Santa Gertrudis cattle, with some Angus and a few Wagyu on their 4000 acres.

We walked each morning – our usual 5-6 kms – yet didn’t get as far as a boundary fence – this is a massive property. Instead of our beach walk, we walked through paddocks, with watchful bulls, and skittish cows.

Bunya Mountains

Bunya Mountains National Park is 100km down the road, and we drove down there (via Kingaroy and back via Nanango) for a look on Saturday, stopping to have lunch at one of the cafes in the tourist village – scones and cauliflower soup.

We drove back via Nanango – and the Peanut Wagon…fabulous all-peanut peanut butter.

Unfortunately, the weather had closed in so it wasn’t ideal for sightseeing or walking, but we will be back – there are some great walking tracks that I’d love to try.

What else…

Normally the wineries around here are the star attraction. With social distancing making it difficult for cellar doors to open without substantial changes, only Barambah Cellars was open when we visited. The others are expected to be open again by July. This also meant that we had problems sourcing and buying local produce as this wasn’t available in the supermarket – although we did manage to find some local produce for sale in the bakery at Goomeri which also, apparently, serves the best coffee in the region (according to our host). Given that we’d travelled with an empty esky with a view to spending some money in the region, this was a tad disappointing.

We were, however, there for the country air and the break and will be back when everything is open again.

We found our accommodation on AirBNB. The property listing is here.

South Burnett

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Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

27 thoughts

  1. Jo, I am glad you enjoyed the lovely South Burnett region, but disappointing that you could only get into one winery 😧.
    That accommodation looks gorgeous though, and isn’t it such a peaceful place to be, watchful bulls and all.

    1. It was a lovely place to be & one winery was fine with us – we’ll go back another time to try Clovely.

  2. Gorgeous photos Jo – intrinsically Aussie aren’t they? I think it’s how a lot of people would imagine Australia to be, certainly it’s what gets portrayed in a lot of the romances that are set in the countryside (or wine areas). It looks like a perfectly glorious time away and I’m so glad you managed to fit it into your schedule so you could have some time away from the house and work etc xx

  3. Oh I’m so envious of your weekend getaway. It’s exactly what I need right now. Beautiful photo’s Jo! I used to work with a girl from Murgon and Gomeri (both names I associate with her). How gorgeous is that cottage you stayed in? I would love sitting out on that veranda with a glass of wine, a cheese platter, and a good book! I love it up in the Bunya Mountains too. I’ve only been there once but loved it so much. Must go again. Hopefully I’ll get a getaway soon! xo

  4. It looks so tranquil. I feel like I’m needing a change of scenery at the moment but not quite sure what I think that means for me.

    I know some of the wineries closer to hear (north burnett rather than south?) are still closed for tastings at the moment. There’s a place Crane’s Winery that makes a nice sparkling shiraz I tend to buy when they visit festivals and the like.

    That trip looks so opposite your normal life – more beach and coastal – it seems perfect.

    1. Crane is in Kingaroy, so in the same area – I really wanted to try that one too. It really was perfect, Deb – I’d been feeling not great in myself & we’d all been sniping a bit at each other. I think partly it was we haven’t really stopped since Grant’s mum got ill – went from that straight into lockdown & the only time I took off work was for the funeral – & then went straight from that to RWA offsite. It was only 2 days, we did very little, but the country quiet was perfect.

  5. Jo, our GPS is named Millie and we tend to yell at her a lot, especially when she insists we ‘make a U turn, make a U turn.” I was a bit surprised by the Italian wines. I just assumed there would be Australian wines at a winery there. Overall, it looks like a peaceful getaway.

    1. WE had to name ours so we could yell at it – the naming kept us entertained one roadtrip for a good few hours. We have a whole range of varieties in Australia when it comes to wine – it really depends on the region. Not much is grown here in Queensland – it’s too mild in the winter & too humid in the summer in most parts of the state. These ones were very drinkable.

  6. I frequently say that our car GPS system is trying to kill us (or at least mess heavily with our minds), so I get the whole Rhonda thing. Glad that you had a wonderful trip away. Your photos are gorgeous!

    1. We had the most perfect couple of days Donna. In a way I’m glad that some things were still closed as it really forced us to be still.

  7. What a beautiful location for a visit! Right in the middle of nowhere! I’ve never used a GPS, and your post is a good reason not to. I love getting lost though, it does add some excitement to a trip. 🙂

  8. It sounds like a great break away Jo and the property looks amazing. We visited that area last year and rode some of the South Burnett rail trail. Fabulous photos and big skies!!

  9. That’s what you call an escape to the country! What a shame about the wineries not opening but I am pleased to see you made the most of your visit to Barambah! I am sure the places you did splash your cash really appreciated it. We’re planning a trip to the Hunter next month, I hope the wineries are up and running!

  10. Hi Joanne, I thought I had read and commented on this post because of the boots and the Brie. It may have been seeing some notes and photos on Instagram. Always fun! It is great how the wine-growing region is close by. A ‘grape’ escape. I know, lame. And it has been used before.🙂

    We have had some scary issues with our GPS. New Zealand and Grand Canyon. I am glad we did not listen to her. Why usually a woman’s voice? Flights of wine are a lot of fun. I recall the story about the special Brie. Great photos! xx

  11. Your country adventure sounds fun. Getting lost is part of the adventure- as long as you have enough gasoline! You certainly found pretty views while being lost. We haven’t yet ventured out on the roads for something like this- too many things are still closed. I am hopeful we can take ourselves to a local winery later this summer.

  12. That accommodation looks lovely. When we head to Qld we usually just manage Brissie and Noosa but perhaps it’s time to venture a little further – at least when they let us back in up there! Might wait till the food supply sorts itself out there first because travel means food choices, right?

  13. I enjoyed your photos on Instagram Jo and sometimes getting lost can bring us to a very special place. I need to book a weekend away for Mike and i so will put this area on the list. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a lovely weekend. x

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