A family-friendly itinerary for Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt region
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 near 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 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.
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!
- Mount Marlay lookout – this lookout has free to use mounted telescope 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 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.
Where to eat in Stanthorpe with kids
Anna’s Italian Restaurant
Location: Cnr Wallangarra Road and O’Mara Terrace, Stanthorpe
It’s wise to book at this popular restaurant which really fills up on weekends. Anna’s is a local institution and has been serving up hearty, home-made Italian fare since 1981. On Friday and Saturday nights, Anna’s offers an all you can eat buffet, including desserts. Tight-fitting clothes are not recommended! Children’s buffet prices make the evening more affordable, although you may wish to reserve this one for a special occasion. The setting, a converted Queenslander home, only adds to the charm of Anna’s.
Jamworks Gourmet Foods & Larder
Location: 7 Townsend Road, Glen Aplin
At Jamworks Gourmet Foods Cafe & Larder, both the menu and atmosphere is 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 haloumi 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!
Wine tasting in Stanthorpe with kids
Balancing Rock Wines
Location: 221 Old Wallangarra Road, Wyberba
This is only a small cellar door but a very popular one thanks to their 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.
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. Foodie families will enjoy the guided tour of the facility (bookings required) which includes a cooking demonstration and food tasting in their new display kitchen with a chef or apprentice chef. 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 try them!
Summit Estate Wines
Location: 291 Granite Belt Drive, Thulimbah
This is a larger winery/cellar door and is welcoming of families who want to wander through their vineyard (summer is the best time for seeing fruit on the vines). In the colder months, there is usually a fire to warm yourselves by and bean bags that kids can flop into and relax. While the kids are chilling, try one of their award-winning drops, such as the Queensland Cabernet (Champion Mainstream Variety Red at Queensland Wine Awards) or a Star Jasmine Moscato, reminiscent of the vine that grows readily in the Granite Belt region.
Where to stay in Stanthorpe with kids
Country Style Caravan 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, however, due to the ongoing drought, the Castle Rock and Bald Rock Creek camping areas are currently closed (as at September 2019).
For another family-friendly itinerary of the Queensland countryside, you can read our review of the South Burnett area, north-west of Brisbane.