The Brisbane to Stanthorpe drive follows a well-worn path passing through the Scenic Rim or Lockyer Valley, depending on which route you choose. Located in the Granite Belt, Stanthorpe is well known for its wineries, fruit orchards and a range of amazing local products. There is also plenty of wonderful accommodation in Stanthorpe covering the spectrum of luxury, self-contained and pet-friendly. If you love a good fire, Stanthorpe is definitely the place to be when the weather gets cooler.
This drive is also about so much more than the destination. The Brisbane to Stanthorpe road trip is a chance to take it slow, stop at some interesting small towns along the way, and savour the more civilised pace as you leave the big city behind.
We’ve created this comprehensive guide and ideas for several Brisbane to Stanthorpe itineraries to help you plan for your stay in Stanthorpe and what to do along the way. We’ve done all of these activities so we can totally vouch for how great they all are.
If you want to do everything on this list, you will definitely need more than a weekend, we’d probably suggest a week. So if you don’t have that time to spare, use the guide to break down the activities into several weekends and just use it as an excuse to visit more often.
Read these articles to help you plan your best trip to Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt:
- The best wineries to visit in the Granite Belt
- The best places to stay in Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt
- The best places to eat in the Granite Belt
- How to get to Stanthorpe
- Tips for visiting the area
- The best things to do in Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt
- 1. Do a winery tour and wine tasting
- 2. Do a cheese tasting
- 3. Take a soap-making class
- 4. Discover Stanthorpe’s chocolate
- 5. Visit an old railway station
- 6. Visit the Christmas Tree farm and Christmas shop
- 7. Visit a working apple farm and orchard
- 8. Pick your own strawberries
- 9. Eat apple pie and taste cider
- 10. Taste and hunt for truffles
- 10. Buy fresh local produce
- 11. Visit Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery
- 12. Admire the local street art and wall murals
- 13. Jam and relish tasting at Jamworks
- 14. Visit the Pyramids
- 15. Girraween National Park
- 16. Do a bike tour
- 17. Visit a castle
- Festivals and events
- Best time to go
- What to pack
How to get to Stanthorpe
Stanthorpe lies south-south-west of Brisbane and west of the Great Dividing Range, at its southern-most point, it lies right on the border between Queensland and New South Wales. Driving straight from Brisbane to Stanthorpe will take around three hours and about three and a half hours from the Gold Coast.
If you have a little more time available, we highly recommend spending some time in the regional parts of the Scenic Rim.
Related reading >> Check out our comprehensive guide on the best places to visit in the Scenic Rim
1-day itinerary Brisbane – Warwick – Stanthorpe
2-day itinerary Brisbane – Boonah – Warwick – Stanthorpe
Depart from Brisbane, arriving in Kalbar for morning tea at the Scenic Rim Farm Cafe. Have lunch at the Dugandan Pub just outside of Boonah, or the Scenic Rim Brewery at Mt Alford.
Tips for visiting the area
- Stanthorpe can get very busy, especially on weekends and in winter. It is highly recommended to book your accommodation and any tours or local experiences in advance to avoid disappointment.
- While it is popular to book a weekend away in Stanthorpe, there is so much to see and do here that sometimes a weekend is never enough. Consider booking a long weekend, or even a four-day break if you can.
- We recommend having a car for the entire time you are in Stanthorpe. Unless you are visiting here as part of a tour that includes transport, you will need convenient transport. The Granite Belt region covers a lot of area and the great places to visit are spread across the area. While some are clustered together, you’ll find that there are places to visit on the northern approach to Stanthorpe right through to the south. There is no public transport.
- Pack properly. The seasons can have some extreme weather here. Check our packing tips at the end of the article.
- Share the driving around with your friends and family who travel with you so that everyone can take part in the wine tasting, or jump on a local tour bus to take you around to the wineries.
- Quite a few of the businesses in Stanthorpe, including restaurants, are not open on Monday and/or Tuesday. Once again, to avoid disappointment, be sure to check opening times in advance of your visit.
The best things to do in Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt
Stanthorpe is a very good example of why it is so important not to ignore small regional towns. What they might lack in geographical size or population numbers is more than made up for by the exhaustive list of amazing things to see, do, watch and experience in the region. On top of all of this, Stanthorpe has wonderful places to stay and some excellent places to eat. Many of the foodie experiences certainly can’t be found in the big smoke.
As regular visitors to Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt region, we have participated in all of these activities listed below. We encourage you to add them to your itinerary too.
1. Do a winery tour and wine tasting
No visit to Stanthorpe is complete without participating in a wine tour or wine tasting at some stage of the trip. In fact, visiting the Stanthorpe wineries is one of the main reasons visitors are attracted to one of Queensland’s best winery regions.
Read more >>: Our detailed guide on some of the best wineries to visit in Stanthorpe – Wine tours in Stanthorpe
2. Do a cheese tasting
Love cheese? Head over to Stanthorpe Cheese and meet new owner Will Rodgers who has been making cheese for six years. He started his craft at this very location, learning from the previous owners and the head cheesemaker. It’s a far cry from Will’s previous career in education, but it’s one we are thankful for as we sit down to enjoy a tasting of his fine cheese.
With Will at the helm explaining the nuances of them all, we work our way through cheese with unusual names. There’s the soft brie-like cheese (Snowflake) and the harder variety that goes well with fruit pastes (Thulimbah). Rex, named after the family Maremma, has a creamy, slightly more mature taste, while the Outlaw, a nod to a local bushranger, has a smoked hickory influence. The Blue Lagoon introduces us to a beginner’s version of blue cheese, finishing with the Smoky Blue, a strong version not for the faint-hearted.
Once you have finished your cheese tasting, pop into the Jersey Girls Cafe located in the same building. Here you can explore the Stanthorpe Cheese more by ordering a platter or just enjoying a coffee.
All Stanthorpe Cheese can be purchased onsite.
Looking for the best places to eat in Stanthorpe? Read our comprehensive food guide for Stanthorpe.
LOCATION: 4 Duncan Lane Thulimbah
3. Take a soap-making class
At Washpool, ex-teacher turned soapmaker Melissa Thomas talks to us about all the nasty stuff that can be found in commercial soap and why her products are different.
Along the way, we become ensconced in her back story; that of a teacher and cattle farm owner. Traditionally, Melissa and her husband Warren were graziers. When the drought hit, their cattle numbers declined, water was hard to come by, and Melissa’s side hustle of soapmaking suddenly took centre stage.
As we bring ourselves back to the lessons involving soap, we learn that so many of the big-name brands, even the expensive ones, are made from nasty ingredients and have the oils stripped out of the soap. If you scratch a soap and it turns to powder, it’s likely to be one of these kinds.
Washpool soap, on the other hand, is made from all-natural ingredients, and it’s made to last, There are no palm oils, the glycerine is kept intact, and in return, it’s good for people with really sensitive skin or for those who don’t want to wash in chemicals. Think activated charcoal, olive leaf, goat milk and shea butter. All soaps are also scent-free.
Soap-making workshops are run regularly. Check the Washpool website for details. Washpool also offers a range of natural body and bath products and other environmentally friendly, sustainable products in the store on-site. All soap and skincare products are made on-site, from scratch. You can also grab a coffee here as well.
LOCATION: 16 Bents Road Ballandean
4. Discover Stanthorpe’s chocolate
At Heavenly Chocolate, you’ll find a shop that is exclusively chocolate, and it is the only one in the Granite Belt. It’s a must-visit for chocolate lovers like me or for anyone wanting a locally made gift.
LOCATION: 2117 Pyramids Road Wyberba
5. Visit an old railway station
Built on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, the Wallangarra Railway Station was built in 1888. Back then, the rail network did not have standard infrastructure, so the rail gauges of Qld and NSW tracks were different. Trains from Qld and NSW met at Wallangarra and passengers were required to change trains.
There are a couple of fun things to observe once you are here. Firstly, be sure to get a photo of you standing with one foot in NSW and one in Qld. There’s a line painted on the platform as soon as you enter.
From this location, look towards the station building. Here you will notice that the facade on each side is architecturally different. Once again, this represented the lack of uniformity between states, with each having its own design standards. In the earlier days, the station was even called a different name (Jennings) on the NSW side, until it finally just became known as the Wallangarra Railway Station.
Don’t miss popping into the Wallangarra Railway Museum located in the original Station Master’s Office. It’s small but has some excellent displays and reading all about the history of the station via the numerous newspaper cuttings, particularly during the war is worthwhile. The museum has free entry.
The original Railway Station Refreshment Rooms is now home to a cafe and a second-hand shop. Place your order at the counter and then browse the shop while you wait.
For a very special experience, catch the heritage steam train from Warwick to Wallangarra return. For more information, availability and pricing, click here.
6. Visit the Christmas Tree farm and Christmas shop
A visit to the Christmas Farm in Stanthorpe is such a surprise. It’s incredible to think that such a place could exist in Queensland, but it is so much more than just trees. Brad Fraser and his wife Katrina own this fabulous business, celebrating everything that makes Christmas fabulous and making those of us who live in a hot tropical climate feel a little European for a moment.
Brad is the tree-grower, and as he takes a moment to chat to us with his very long and very sharp-looking machete, he’s got my full attention. People visit here from all over in search of their perfect Christmas tree. Once you choose your tree, ranging from the very small to big six-footers, Brad will chop it down for you, and package it in something that looks like a big hair net, so that you can transport it home with you.
While you are outside, take the time to hang out with the farm animals, including reindeer.
Katrina’s domain is inside, where you will find an incredible Christmas shop with every possible bauble and Christmas decoration you can imagine. It instantly reminds me of all the Christmas shops I trawled through in Germany especially. Katrina also makes yummy chocolate fudge and other Christmas goodies and puts together hampers that can be used as gifts or to take out into the farm and have a picnic under the Christmas trees.
Don’t miss the special event held every year at the Granite Belt Christmas Farm. Find an ugly Christmas jumper, gather your friends and family for the annual Christmas in July.
LOCATION: 321n Aerodrome Road Applethorpe
7. Visit a working apple farm and orchard
McMahons Apple Orchard
Kicking back in an orchard with a glass of wine in my hand is something I’ve also wanted to do but I’ve always felt that this is something that only seems to happen on tv. Not so. At McMahon’s Apple Orchard, fourth-generation apple farmers David and Paul McMahon are carrying on their parent’s tradition with a modern touch.
Following a tour of the apple orchard and a discussion about the farm’s history
and apple farming techniques, we are delighted to see a long table stretched out between two rows of trees. It’s a perfect day in Stanthorpe, so sitting down here and enjoying a lunch put together by David made up of locally acquired treats and washed down with a glass of the Granite Belt’s finest is simply the best.
LOCATION: 638 Poieres Road Pozieres
There is plenty of family history at Nicoletti Orchards, with third-generation apple growers Daniel and Toni running the show. Their young son showed enormous enterprise at a young age by asking his parents if he could open the farm to tourists to earn some pocket money. Today, orchard tours and apple picking tours are part and parcel of this working farm. Cherry picking is also possible here during cherry season.
You can find accurate dates and times for tours on their website.
LOCATION: 61 Nicoletti Lane Pozieres
8. Pick your own strawberries
Who doesn’t love a fresh, juicy strawberry? Here you can pick them yourself and you can be assured of their freshness.
Ashbern Farms are located in Stanthorpe and on the Sunshine Coast, but it is in Stanthorpe that visitors can gain access to observe a working strawberry farm and participate in picking their own. Afterwards, visit the onsite cafe for all kinds of strawberry treats.
It is free to visit Ashbern Farms but always check their website to ensure it is picking season and the farm and shop are open.
LOCATION: 2 West Road Stanthorpe
9. Eat apple pie and taste cider
If you are coming from Brisbane into Stanthorpe, then time your drive to arrive here at morning tea time. You won’t be disappointed. A traditional apple and stone fruit orchard, owners David and Ros bought the farm in 1994 and have transformed it via various innovations along the way.
Hailing from North Queensland, David says “they started value-adding when it no longer made commercial sense to keep selling to the markets”. With a strong market now for cider, vinegar and their now-famous apple pies, it appears their foresight and strategy have all paid off.
All apple pies are made on-site and are made from either Sutton’s Farm apples or locally grown apples. A big week might see up to 800kg of apples cooked and sometimes 160 pies a day. Grab a slice of pie served with delicious homemade apple cider ice cream and cream, or take one home, or better still, do both.
While you are at Sutton’s Juice Factory Cidery & Cafe take the time to browse around the shop. Here you’ll find a range of Sutton’s ciders, juice, jams, chutneys, pickles and vinegar. You can also do a tasting there as well which I highly recommend. Be sure to check out the jams, relishes and sauces too, all made locally.
LOCATION: 10 Halloran Drive Thulimbah
10. Taste and hunt for truffles
Truffle hunting is one of the best things we have done in Italy, but you don’t have to go to Europe to get up close and personal with them. At the family-owned business, The Folly Truffles, you can learn everything you wanted to know about truffles and more.
Vibrant co-owner Maple explains, “truffles are like wine. You might have the same type of grape or even the same winemaker, but the wine will taste completely different when it comes from different areas. The same can be said about truffles. Depending on where they are grown will change the way they smell and taste.”
The Folly Truffles support local businesses with their locally-produced speciality, preferring to sell as close to home as possible to keep the integrity and freshness of the truffle intact.
Tea with the truffle farmer
Offered on weekends, all year round, Tea with the Truffle Farmer gives you the experience of walking through the truffière – the field of truffles. You’ll learn how they are grown, about the dogs that are used for hunting and all about the family business that is Queensland’s largest commercial truffière.
After the tour, you’ll return to the Truffle Cottage for tea and a chat.
Duration: approximately one hour
If you want to get involved in the hunt, this is your opportunity. You can follow the farmers at work, or you can don your own boots and get your hands dirty to help dig for truffles. It’s up to you. You’ll learn about how to find them, how to dig them up and how to leave them if they aren’t ready.
After the hunt, you’ll head back to the Truffle Cottage for a truffle-inspired light lunch. Think crunchy baguette, laden with fresh ham and truffle mustard, paired with a glass of wine. Watch and learn from Maple as she grates and slices fresh truffle in front of you to make truffle butter and cheese. She’ll even share some of her favourite recipes with you. It’s truffle heaven.
Cost: $100 per person
Duration: approximately two hours
Note: The Folly Truffles is a working farm. To avoid disappointment, bookings are recommended. Truffle hunting generally occurs between June and August, but can change depending on the season. Truffle hunting is also available by appointment. For accurate tour times and availability, visit their website.
LOCATION: 1110 Bents Rd Ballandean
10. Buy fresh local produce
The Granite Belt is known for its fruit orchards, so it’s virtually impossible to visit here without doing some shopping at local roadside stalls and shops.
For a touch of history, head to the “Fruit Run”, a name locals give to the road where fresh local farm produce can be found and purchased. It is here in the area aptly called Applethorpe that you will find many of the local orchards and their owners.
Call into Sam’s Fruit and Vegies, an old store on the side of the road overflowing with crates of farm produce and every type of apple you could imagine out the front when they are in season of course.
LOCATION: 44 Middleton Road Cottonvale
11. Visit Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery
The Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery is located in the centre of Stanthorpe and houses around 900 art pieces in a permanent exhibition. In 2021 the Stanthorpe Art Prize was run and much of the artwork was part of this exhibition. The art gallery runs regular programs that include local and international artists.
LOCATION: 56 Lock St Weeroona Park Stanthorpe
12. Admire the local street art and wall murals
Street art is admired worldwide. Regional Stanthorpe shows its street art credibility with some wonderful wall murals dotted about the town. You can follow them all using this street art map.
13. Jam and relish tasting at Jamworks
Established in 2001 inside an old relocated school building, Jamworks was elevated to a gourmet foods powerhouse in the Granite Belt when current owners Stephanie and Christine purchased it in 2015. This award-winning manufacturer now includes a factory, retail store and cafe onsite. They produce 90 preserves, using 98% Australian ingredients (local where possible).
Come in and do a tasting or simply browse the enormous range. We love the fruit pastes in particular, but the jams are also very good.
LOCATION: 7 Townsend Road Glen Aplin
14. Visit the Pyramids
Stanthorpe is also home to one of the wackiest things. In Ballandean, a gigantic pyramid made from stones sits in the middle of a paddock. It’s no Stonehenge, that’s for sure, and you can’t get close to it due to it being on private property, but it is worthy of a drive-by. At 17.5 metres tall, this man-made feature consisting of 7,500 tonnes of stones just can’t be missed.
LOCATION: Turn off the highway on Eukey Road, then turn right into Jacobsens Road. Follow Jacobsens Road for 1.7 km.
15. Girraween National Park
Girraween National Park is not the usual type of national park you would expect to find. Instead of lush, tropical rainforests and other native flora, streams, rock pools and even waterfalls, Girraween National Park is all about the huge granite rocks, tall gums and wildflowers.
Visitors come to Girraween to camp at Bald Rock and Castle Rock and to walk more than 17 kilometres of pathways.
- Beginners walk to Granite Arch. This is an easy walk for those wanting to reserve their energy for wine tasting. It will take you across Bald Rock Creek and through a natural stone archway. Approximately 1.6km or 30 minutes (average walk speed).
- Intermediate walk on the Pyramid Trail. This walk will give you plenty of exercise and ensure you burn off all the calories you’ve consumed while having fun in the Granite Belt. At the end of this walk, you’ll need to climb a steep exposed rock face. Approximately 3.6 km or two hours total walk.
- Intermediate walk Bald Rock Creek. This isn’t a difficult trail as no rock scrambling is necessary. Approximately 5.2km or two hours.
- Challenging walk to Castle Rock. This walk also has a steep, rocky climb. Approximately 5.2km or two hours.
- Challenging walk to the Sphinx anad Turtle Rock. This walk is for the serious walkers who aren’t as concerned about all the fantastic food and wine in the area, but who want to take in everything that Girraween has to offer by way of landscapes and views. Approximately 7.4km or four hours.
Good to know – If you want to continue with hiking, bush walks or camping, Sundown National Park is about an hour’s drive from Stanthorpe.
Tip: Like any bushwalking and hiking, always let someone know where you are going and an expected return time. The landscape in Girraween National Park is quite harsh, Be prepared by wearing proper hiking boots, and have a hat, water and sunscreen. This area gets very hot in summer and freezing in winter, with overnight temperatures often around zero. It’s therefore always a good idea to take layers.
16. Do a bike tour
Feeling energetic? Granite Belt Bicycle Tours and Hire are the only bike company in the Granite Belt and offer everything from DIY bike hire to fully-guided tours. They will also deliver the bikes to your accommodation and organise a picnic hamper for you too.
Note – Only open on weekends. Bookings are recommended via the website.
17. Visit a castle
This isn’t your usual castle. Instead, you’ll find a series of huge granite boulders that once helped to keep bushranger Captain Thunderbolt protected and hidden. It’s good fun for kids to wander in amongst this network of boulders that work together to create caves and secret hiding spots.
Festivals and events
Apple and Grape Harvest Festival
The Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Harvest Festival runs every two years and has entertained locals and visitors since 1966. Highlights of the festival usually include such things as the Grape Crush Championships, Queensland Country Bank Food & Wine Fiesta, the Apple & Grape Gala Ball, Apple Peeling and Apple Pie Competitions. Being wine country, there are also many opportunities to meet the winemaker across the entire festival. More information
Stanthorpe Berry Festival
Stanthorpe loves a good festival, and with the introduction of the first Stanthorpe Berry Festival in November 2021, it is fast becoming known as the place to be when you want to have a party. The Berry Festival will showcase berry producers just in time for the commencement of the summer strawberry season. Buy tickets here
Market in the Mountains
Operating since 1993, the Market in the Mountains brings together local producers. With a tagline of “If it’s made, baked, sewn or grown”, you’ll find everything you could possibly imagine at these long-running markets. They generally operate on the second Sunday of every month and long weekends. Check market dates
Best time to go
Stanthorpe is a great place to visit at any time of the year. For those who crave the cool and sometimes frosty climes, Stanthorpe is perfect for a winter getaway. There’s nothing quite like drinking a glass of wine in front of the fire, and you’ll find most accommodation locations will have a fireplace. Be sure to check this when booking if this is important to you.
Wintertime is particularly busy in Stanthorpe, so it is always recommended to book well in advance.
What to pack
Regardless of the time of year you go to Stanthorpe, you should always take some warm clothes. At close to 1000 metres above sea level, the nights can be cooler than you might expect, even in summer. In summer, it does get hot so be sure to pack clothes that are light to wear but cover up your skin. Hats and sunscreen are a must. As the weather turns cooler, this is not the place to be caught without some serious woollies.
Pack layers and make sure you have good jumpers, coats and even scarves and beanies, especially if you are going to be doing outdoor events, especially in the evening. On the whole, Stanthorpe is a casual place, with no requirement to dress up to visit wineries or enjoy any of the other activities on the Granite Belt.