Want to wake up to a family of kangaroos making their way to their preferred breakfast spot? Or spot some rabbits bobbing up and down around their favourite tree trunk?
Girraween National Park can pretty well guarantee this – whether you are camping or staying at more luxury type accommodation that is on offer in this beautiful part of the Granite Belt in Queensland.
Named after the large prehistoric granite boulders scattered across the landscape, the Granite Belt due to its cooler temperatures has established itself as part of Australia’s wine producing regions.
Since 1870 the region has grown grapes and produces a wide variety ranging from Shiraz and Chardonnay and successfully ventured into more varieties like Viognier, Mourvedre and Tempranillo.
The region also has a strong focus on food from modern Italian cuisine and delis to fine dining with plenty of restaurants to sample the local produce.
The Granite Belt is a favourite haunt for many during winter. The frosty temperatures make fireside activities an essential part of experiencing the beautiful countryside, foodie places and local wineries. For the summer months, the cooler temperatures make this area a great retreat from the sizzling and humid climates of the coastal cities.
Summer also is the low season for the area and many places offer great deals for this time of year. There are plenty of options if you don’t want to camp and one that offers some real four-star comfort is Girraween Environmental Lodge.
The Lodge has 10 architect-designed bush chalets set on four hundred acres of natural bushland surrounded by Girraween National Park.
You can experience the real tranquility of the bush in one of the self-contained luxury cabins. Made from recycled timber with king-size beds, double spa baths, wood heaters, self-contained kitchens, and DVD players – the peacefulness of this beautiful area can be enjoyed in absolute comfort.
Summer also enables visitors to the Lodge to enjoy the swimming at the ‘rockpools’ and spa that overlook the Kangaroo Paddock. The pools and spa provide another great option to keep children happily occupied outdoors and away from technology.
"Girraween" (an aboriginal word for "The Place of Flowers") has the best wildflower display on Australia's east coast, attracting abundant bird life to the Lodge property.
Bushwalks start from the chalets, where you can stroll through open fields with quiet kangaroos, meander through woodlands and forests, cross creek gullies, and pass by extraordinary rock formations, scenery, waterfalls, rock pools and of course see some of the wildlife. You can choose from gentle to more adventurous walks that cover a range of ages and mobility.
The 30 kilometres of walking tracks include the 280 metre Wyberba Walk alongside Bald Rock Creek. You can visit Granite Arch, climb The Pyramid for great views over the park or spend the day walking to granite monoliths or to waterholes along the creek.
Ballendean is the winery area just a few kilometres away from Girraween National Park. Home to not just wineries but also olive orchards and a lavender farm too.
Beyond Ballendean there are also a number of townships including Wallangarra, which is located 15 kilometres south from the Lodge on the New England Highway. Wallangarra is a small picturesque village on the border of Queensland and New South Wales.
The Tenterfield District which is just 20 kilometres across the border is surrounded by over 10 National Parks and is the gateway to both the New England and Northern Rivers Regions.
There's plenty to see and do in the Tenterfield region including Bald Rock National Park, Boonoo Boonoo Falls, The Tenterfield Saddler and a number of local award winning wineries. The surrounding scenery is stunning and perfect for a scenic drive and day trips.
Heading just a little north of the Girraween National Park, there is also plenty of activity at Stanthorpe.
Stanthorpe is at the heart of the Granite Belt and is nationally recognised for its winemaking and diversity of produce. Beyond the food and wine there are lots of other bush walks and picturesque places to enjoy with the family including the Storm King Dam and Sundown National Park.
So if you are looking for an alternative to crowded beaches and cities for the summer holidays, the Granite Belt offers an option to observe beautiful scenery, indulge in home grown food and wines and get up close and personal to the natural environment. And perhaps as part of the experience, this divine part of the world will help you get closer to those who really matter.
All images taken on grounds of and courtesy of Girraween Environmental Lodge.