Can a visit to Queensland’s renowned wine region, Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt, really work as a family-friendly holiday? Why, yes it can! Here’s how…
Sometimes an escape to the country can be just what the doctor ordered. Stanthorpe and the surrounding Granite Belt region, located approximately three hours west of Brisbane, is the perfect location for a weekend or week away from the bright lights of the city. Surprisingly, there are a plethora of attractions for families to enjoy in the area.
Things to do in and around Stanthorpe with kids
Granite Belt Maze
Location: 364 Old Warwick Road, Glen Niven
You’ll be amazed (!) at how much fun the family will have at the Granite Belt Maze. The great thing about this maze is that the family can work together to solve a riddle, and you have to search the maze for clues. Each riddle is usually solved within about three kilometres of searching, so it’s a great way to get your steps up. There’s also a mini-maze for younger kids, an obstacle maze and mini-golf. The onsite canteen sells tea, coffee, cold drinks and snacks, making it an easy outing for everyone.
Granite Belt Christmas Farm
Location: 321 Aerodrome Road, Applethorpe
This is a real working Christmas tree farm that is open all year round to visitors – you can even wander through the avenues of trees and smell the fresh pine. For the kids, Santa’s animals are a highlight, and you can feed the reindeer, donkeys, goats, sheep, ducks and chickens. Stepping into the Mistletoe Christmas store you’ll find a wonderland of Christmas gifts, decorations and handmade foods. Don’t leave without trying one of their indulgent Belgian hot drinking chocolates. Admission is free and a bucket of animal feed is $2.
Girraween National Park
Location: Pyramids Road, Ballandean
Girraween is a stunning national park with dramatic landscapes, wildflowers, creeks and granite rocks that form a natural playground for kids. Follow the signs to the national park and leave your car at the main picnic area near the National Park Information Centre. An achievable walk for families is the Granite Arch walk, which is also a great location for photos. For a more challenging walk, you may like to attempt The Pyramid. The views from the top are spectacular and it’s possible to do the Granite Arch walk on the way there or back. Allow two hours to return (3.6km) to conquer The Pyramid walk, and don’t climb when wet or dark. It’s recommended to wear joggers, take a water bottle and supervise children carefully as there are sheer cliffs at the summit. Another walk that is perfect for families is the Dr Roberts waterhole walk. This starts from a different car park, called the Dr Roberts carpark, and can be accessed by conventional vehicles. It’s only a 1.2km return walk and takes you to the pretty Bald Rock Creek, opening onto a large waterhole surrounded by climbable granite rocks.
Location: Donnellys Castle Road, Pozieres
Another natural playground that kids will love is Donnellys Castle. Located within picnic grounds on the outskirts of town, Donnellys Castle is a wonderland of giant granite rocks with cave-like entrances and narrow crevices for families to explore. Purported to have once been the hideout of an infamous bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt, it’s sure to spark some imaginative play. There’s also a lookout set on top of one of the granite outcrops, which has lovely views over the surrounding region. Parent’s tip: tell the kids their mission is to find a yowie (there is a big yowie painted on a rock within the crevices and caves). There are toilets at this location.
Lookouts, murals and other attractions
- The Big Thermometer – located next to the Visitor Information Centre in Stanthorpe, the Big Thermometer proves that Stanthorpe really is Queensland’s coldest town! In fact, it has even been known to snow!
- Mount Marlay lookout – this lookout has free-to-use mounted telescopes and binoculars that give you 360-degree views over the township of Stanthorpe. There’s a 10-minute walk around the summit – just type in Lot 2, Lock Street in Stanthorpe to your navigational system to find the carpark.
- Insta-worthy murals – find the alley between the Stanthorpe Art Gallery and the swimming pool in Weeroona Park and put yourselves in the pictures (the gallery is on the corner of Lock and Marsh streets).
- Ballandean Pyramid – if you drive along Jacobson Lane in Ballandean, you’ll be surprised to spot a 17.5-metre granite rock pyramid on a farmer’s property. The pyramid is on private land, but there’s a spot to stop on the roadside about 25m from the pyramid for a close-up look and a photo.
- Call into Sam’s Farm Fresh Fruit and Veggies – Sam is a local legend and his fresh produce isn’t bad either. Best of all, it’s super local – the Granite Belt region is known for its abundance of fruit, especially apples, grapes and stonefruit.
- Pose for a photo with the big apple! Located outside Vincenzo’s. a fabulous (and family-friendly) Italian restaurant, the giant apple perched on a pole is a landmark you won’t miss. And with clever posing making use of perspective, you can make it look like you’re holding, lifting or biting into the fruit. You may also like to time your visit with the biennial apple and grape festival.
Where to eat in Stanthorpe with kids
Blue Topaz Diner
Location: 26806 New England Highway, Severnlea
This popular roadside diner really fills up on weekends and has become a local institution. As to the menu, expect everything that Elvis would have happily scoffed: burgers, hot dogs, fries, spiders, shakes and a whole candy bar for the kids. On the children’s menu, there are burgers, dagwood dogs, fish fingers and nuggets, all of which come with a side of chips and a drink. The whole family will love the atmosphere, which includes 50s memorabilia, neon lighting, a jukebox and cute booths to cuddle up in.
Jamworks Gourmet Foods & Larder
Location: 7 Townsend Road, Glen Aplin
At Jamworks Gourmet Foods Cafe & Larder, both the menu and atmosphere are family-friendly. Even better, the food is made onsite from local Granite Belt produce. They have a product-tasting bar and kids can try a variety of sweet jams and tasty relishes – they may even find a new favourite spread for breakfast toast or school lunch box sandwiches. On the kids’ menu, you’ll find made-from-scratch options such as pizza and chicken tenders. They’ve got super delicious indulgent ‘spectacular shakes’ that will be a hit with young and old. For the parents, try a beef or halloumi burger served with homemade relish. Or if you’re there for breakfast, the pancake stack served with fresh strawberry jam, or the eggs benedict with caramelised capsicum and onion relish will hit the spot. Tip: If the kids want something to do while they are waiting for their meal, send them next door to the Candle Store that’s in the little old school building and challenge them to find a candle scent name that will make them laugh – there is one called ‘Monkey Farts’!
Sutton’s Juice Factory & Apple Cidery Farm
Location: 10 Halloran Drive, Thulimbah
Stanthorpe is known as an apple and grape-growing region, and you can try food made from produce freshly picked from the orchard at Sutton’s Shed Cafe. The food is made on-site, is additive-free and showcases the best produce the region has to offer. The apple pies are enormous and the generous slices are served with homemade spiced ice cream. There’s a range of delicious offerings on their menu including warming pumpkin soup served with fluffy scones, best enjoyed by the roaring fire. Seating is available inside or outside – we recommend outdoors for families as there is plenty of space for the kids to run around and there are resident chickens to see. While you’re at Sutton’s, ask about their apple juice tasting. This is a fun activity for kids to sample the range of fresh apple juices made locally – you’ll be amazed at the variety!
Location: Pyramids Road, Wyberba (not far from Giraween National Park)
Chocaholics beware – you may not be able to stop yourself from bingeing at this delightful boutique chocolate shop. The enormous range of artisan chocolates comes in a mind-boggling array of shapes, sizes and delectable flavours. They make lovely gifts too. Once you’ve made your selection (and ordered your tea, coffee, milkshake or indulgent hot chocolate), you can take your goodies outside to the gorgeous garden and sit amongst the trees, watch the chickens go about their business, and mindfully enjoy each and every bite of your cocoa-infused treat!
Wine tasting in Stanthorpe with kids
Balancing Heart Vineyard
Location: 221 Old Wallangarra Road, Wyberba
This is a popular cellar door thanks to its award-winning wines (including 2019 Gourmet Traveller WINE Best Small Cellar Door on the Granite Belt award). Here the kids can go for a walk through the vineyard and find the love-heart-shaped rock balancing on the top of another rock, which makes a great photo prop. And while you’re inside sipping and swilling your way through the wine-tasting menu, the kids can keep busy outdoors by playing some badminton or quoits, while enjoying a complimentary soft drink or juice. Their delicious sunset dinners of wood-fired pizzas are also a big hit with young and old.
Queensland College of Wine Tourism
Location: 22 Caves Road, Stanthorpe
This education and training facility, run in conjunction with the University of Southern Queensland and Stanthorpe State High School is well worth a visit. There is a fine dining restaurant open seven days per week, with a grassed courtyard outside where kids can play with a bucket of provided toys. Afterwards, enjoy the guided wine tasting, in the purpose-built ‘Tastes of the Granite Belt’ room. It’s hard to believe that some of these wines are produced by school students who are too young to drink them!
Jester Hill Wines
Location: 292 Mt Stirling Road, Glen Aplin
This is one of the most family-friendly wineries you will ever visit. At Jester Hill Wines, there is so much to keep the kids busy – from the giant fish tank to the toy basket, colouring in supplies, and a very friendly dog – you should be able to sip on your chardonnay in peace! It’s also a great place to enjoy a platter-style lunch, and we recommend sitting outdoors so the kids can make use of the large green space to play. There’s a hill that’s great for rolling down, a fish pond, seat-swing, boules pitch and some neighbouring horses that will capture the kids’ attention. Pick up a bottle or two of their award-winning wines to take back to your accommodation with you and enjoy another tipple in the evening.
Location: 218 Donges Road, Severnlea
Look, they have amazing wines at Ridgemill Estate and all that, bucolic views and a verdant vineyard to wander through but they also have goats! Lots of goats! Kids will love feeding the cheeky creatures (just ask for the feed at the cellar door) and they love a good pat too. And once you’ve gotten that out of everyone’s system, enjoy a wine tasting inside for the adults and a juice tasting for the kids.
Fruit picking in Stanthorpe with kids
The Stanthorpe and Granite Belt region is a fertile growing region for not only grapes in vineyards, but plenty of other fruit too including apples and strawberries. At Eastern Colour, families can stroll through the orchards that are bursting with fruit, and pick to their heart’s content. There are different varieties of apples to choose from, as well as super sweet strawberries (ask about their secret method that ensures sweet berries). To find out when the next “pick your own” event is happening, check out Eastern Colour’s social media channels or visit their website.
Ashbern Farms is another great option for strawberry picking, and their season runs from October to late May. Once you’ve picked and paid for your strawberries, visit the farm shop to browse the strawberry-themed gift ideas, or enjoy a decadent strawberry ice cream. There’s also a competition for who can find the biggest strawberry in the field! Check out their website for more information, including opening hours. A visit to either of these locations, or both, is a great way to introduce your child to what a working farm looks like, and what’s involved in producing food.
Where to stay in Stanthorpe with kids
Country Style Holiday Park in Glen Aplin (just south of Stanthorpe on the New England Highway) welcomes families and offers a number of accommodation options including self-contained cabins, generously-sized powered sites for caravans and campervans, or an open area for unpowered campers. Set in a picturesque location along the Severn River, you can read our full review here. Another alternative is to camp at Giraween National Park, in either the beautiful Castle Rock or Bald Rock Creek camping areas. We can also highly recommend Sommerville Valley Tourist Park at Storm King Dam. You can read our detailed review here of their camping and cabin facilities, and all the activities on offer in their park.
For another family-friendly itinerary of the Queensland countryside, you can read our review of the South Burnett area, northwest of Brisbane.