Following The Food Trail In Southern Queensland Country

27 January 2015

We all love great holidays and we all love great food, right? So why not combine the two?

I've just returned from a place where magical scenery and masterful dishes are seamlessly woven together. A place so delicious even the cows eat better. And the best bit? It's closer than you think!

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Southern Queensland Country cradles a tantalising foodie trail with some world-class drinkies thrown in too. Vanilla skies and fire-flies are the backdrop, while melting moments take centre stage.

Forget oversized resorts, plastic burgers and lukewarm chips – here are five reasons to pack your bags for this blossoming foodie hot spot. Warning: you'll never look at supermarket cheese the same way again.
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Reason 1: High dining tastes better

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Let's get one thing straight: I'm no food snob. I love my two-minute noodles on a Tuesday night as much as the next person, but there's something incredible about the flavours of this Queensland food bowl. The magic ingredient comes in the form of a natural blessing: elevation.

As Karen Deeth from Stanthorpe Cheese will tell you, the finest cheeses in the world are made at high altitudes. Karen crafts her boutique cheeses in a dainty farmhouse 1,000 metres above sea level, and that's exactly where you go to taste them.

 Spring Creek Cottages

The Jersey Cows that produce the milk are in the next paddock and the whole experience is so intimate – the hands that made the cheese are the same ones serving it to you!

You'll taste products so flavoursome and unique they actually change with the seasons, and you'll never want to go back to plastic-wrapped blocks of supermarket cheese ever again.
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Reason 2: Guilt-free gluttony

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Forget 'food miles', we're talking about 'food metres' here. The meal on your plate in Southern Queensland Country likely sprouted on the farm up the road. There's something uplifting about eating produce plucked straight from the earth around you.

The preservatives, chemicals and artificial flavours we so often pump into our bodies are missing and the food is fresher, not having travelled far and wide across the nation.

Your down-to-earth dining boasts no nasties, which means you get off guilt free! Besides, everyone knows organic ice cream is good for you.
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Reason 3: THAT view

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Bev Ruskey from the Spring Creek Mountain Cafe could not have put it better when she said “the food should match the view”.

I tend to agree. After all, what's the point of an exquisitely prepared homestyle meal if there's no serene mountain outlook with fluffy clouds floating past to go with it?

It's been scientifically proven* that dessert tastes better consumed under a starry Queensland sky with the smell of wildflowers thick in the air. *Well, maybe not 'scientifically'. Just trust me on that one.

The adventurous can get to know the scenery on an even closer level by picking your own apples, collecting your own eggs and if you're lucky like I was, catching your own fish.
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Reason 4: Tipple while you nibble

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Food without wine? Course not! Travel to Ballandean Estate Wines where the passionate Robyn Puglisi-Henderson carries on her Sicilian great-grandfather's tradition in the picturesque valley vineyards.

At the Granite Belt Brewery, meet Geoff Davenport – the beer master – and sample his ales overlooking the brewery. Again there are no preservatives, no additives.

You could almost certainly argue that this beer too, is good for you. If beer's not your thing, gift your tastebuds some sweet apple cider from Sutton's Farm and nominate your travel partner for driving duties!
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Reason 5: The people of the land

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In Southern Queensland Country, you can get to know the hard-working folk who planted, tended to and harvested your dinner.

The person behind the counter is likely the producer of the fare and will gladly tell you how the food came to be. Before the days of mass production and supermarket giants, food was a community-based thing. Here, it still is.

Greg the butcher knows every farmer in town and can tell you which paddock the meat you're eating came from.

Jess Copeland from Toowoomba's Ground Up Cafe will welcome you with the biggest smile north of the border and brew you the sweetest smelling tea before you can say "I'm tired after a long day of travelling".

If you really want some food for thought, ask the proprietors how they came to live in this pristine part of the Sunshine State.

Chef Bev Ruskey visited Spring Creek as a tourist but returned with the vision to create a mountain retreat. Former city chef Matthew Wells stopped by Ballandean Estate Wines for a holiday tasting but got chatting to the owners and now runs the restaurant.

Who knows where your path might take you if you drop by this special part of the world?

Jessica Braithwaite

Jessica Braithwaite is a national weather presenter for Sky News. She’s also a familiar face in our skies, presenting in-flight reports for Qantas news bulletins. Jessica has a fiery passion for travel and adores engaging with the wonderful experiences this world has to offer.