Take a road trip from Brisbane to the Lockyer Valley
Looking for a great road trip from Brisbane? Want to find some of the best fresh produce and artisanal products made by locals? Come with us as we share the best of a foodie weekend in the Lockyer Valley.
Leave the big smoke of Brisbane in your rear view mirror and head west into the countryside and towards the heart of Australia’s salad bowl. The Lockyer Valley as it is broadly known sits in between the cities of Ipswich and Toowoomba.
The Lockyer Valley is located approximately one hour west of Brisbane, 2.5 hours SSW of the Sunshine Coast and 1.5 hours NNW of the Gold Coast.
Laidley, Gatton, Forest Hill, Plainland, Grantham, Mulgowie, Murphys Creek, Helidon, Withcott.
As one of the most fertile farming areas in Australia, much of the fresh produce that Australians eat comes from this region.
You can drive, catch a bus or fly into Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport.
The great thing about the Lockyer Valley is that it makes a fabulous day trip from Brisbane or its surrounding areas. However, if you have more time, why not stay overnight and make the most of a long weekend. There’s enough to keep you entertained.
Day 1 Itinerary Lockyer Valley
Day 1 Lockyer Valley
Have morning tea on the verandah of the Porters Plainland Hotel
This pub is an icon on the Warrego Highway, the main road connecting Brisbane and Toowoomba (and beyond). The Warrego splits the Lockyer Valley in half, meaning you can visit any of these great locations whether you are driving to or from Brisbane.
The Porters Plainland Hotel has been owned and operated by generations of the Porter family since 1946. Whilst this pub is a stalwart of the pub scene in the local area, it is also well known for having some fantastic desserts and pastries.
This is the first stop on your foodie itinerary. Take a seat on the verandah of the original building, dating back over one hundred years and tuck into a delicious homemade pastry or piece of cake.
Sample some of Australia’s best smallgoods at Schulte’s Fresh Gourmet Market
Across the road is the meat mecca of this region. Known simply as Schulte’s, this unassuming store on the side of the Warrego Highway has been serving up award-winning meat and smallgoods for over 65 years.
Following on from his German father who opened the butcher shop in 1952, Peter Schulte and his family celebrate their heritage through their production of fermented small goods such as metwurst, kabana and chorizo.
This is not just an ordinary butcher shop. The Schulte’s food philosophy that has personally served them well whilst raising seven children permeates through everything they do in their business.
The butcher shop component of the market is full of fresh local meat. As well as the basics, there are fantastic gourmet sausages and award-winning bacon.
“Everything we do here is about supporting the local producers”, says Peter Schulte, “we buy directly from the farmer”. “This means that the food miles are low, animal welfare is a priority and the quality is exceptional”.
It’s a message shared by Peter’s wife Melinda. When asked why she loved living in the Lockyer Valley, her reply was simple. “Because everything here is fresh. We can just go up the road to get our produce. We buy it fresh and cook it fresh”.
Perhaps the most telling sign belongs to their kids. As Melinda explained, “Our kids don’t eat fast food. They didn’t eat it as kids and they don’t eat it now. They don’t go through drive-throughs.”
Location: 4424 Warrego Highway Plainland Qld 4341
Buy online and have your order home delivered.
Enjoy lunch at a sheep cheesery
Awassi Cheesery is without a doubt one of my favourite places to visit. It’s a perfect blend of interesting, educational, relaxation, good food and supporting a local artisanal producer. A producer that’s been through the wringer, like many of the farmers in this region.
The drought hit them hard in the Lockyer Valley. Here at the sheep farm owners Di and David Piggott had to downsize their flock. Not only was water an issue but so was acquiring feed.
They changed their processes to survive. Di is a great innovator which is visible in the cheese she makes onsite. Her latest venture saw the production of a blue pecorino. Her Grantham “drunken” cheese is legendary.
At the Awassi farm, you can do a dairy and cheesery tour, learn how to make the cheese yourself or complete a cheese tasting. Or, you can do what we love to do the most. Pull up a chair under the avocado grove with your BYO bottle and enjoy the cheese in a beautiful, laid back location.
Location: 776 Sandy Creek Road Grantham Qld 4347
Tours by appointment. Buy natural sheep beauty products or cheese online.
Visit a working farm
Visiting a working farm should be a must on everyone’s list. Sure it’s great to visit for the food, but when you are actually standing in front of a farmer who has survived one of the worst floods in one hundred years, crippling droughts, and anything else the world wants to throw at them, it makes you realise just how important it is to support them.
It also makes you think every time you look to buy something imported.
At 9Dorf Farms, 4th-generation farmer Bronwyn and David Neuendorf and her family are trying to do things differently. Whilst battling no rain, water in dams and their bores either drying up or collapsing, they’ve had no choice. They also want to leave the land in a better place when their farming days are over.
Diversification was key. The farm the current owners took over has been a dairy farm and an agriculture farm. In 2011, they commenced farming native Australian fish, finding a way to lessen the impact on the environment. The farming of cattle followed, then poultry.
Location: 542 Flagstone Creek Road Lilydale Qld 4344
Have afternoon tea at The Barn & Scotty’s Garage
Fancy checking out a 1928 Model A Ford that has only had two owners, an impeccably maintained thunderbird or one of only three bright red Mobil Pegasus rides left in the world?
Tucked away on four acres in the Lockyer Valley, Scotty’s Garage is a revelation and treat for car enthusiasts and lovers of automobile history. But, it’s also a treat for people like me that don’t really care too much for cars. The memorabilia here is gobsmackingly incredible and it should be a must-visit for everyone.
Owners Scotty and Sarah bought this property 12 years ago and by Easter of 2013 he was trading, showcasing his outstanding collection of cars, motorbikes, juke boxes and all the kinds of things you’d find at a mechanic’s garage.
It’s a walk down memory lane as I recognise the old glass oil bottles my Dad used to use at home. There’s all the old petrol bowsers, mostly American, that I remember from movies.
In 1953, Mobil made five red Pegasus mechanical rides for an Illinois Trade Fair that was subsequently cancelled. With no further use for the rides, Mobile donated them to service stations in the US. In the 1970’s a Mobile executive brought one to Australia. Scotty is now the proud owner of one of the remaining three in the world.
He owns a V8 sign, one of only two in the country. The 1928 Model A Ford was owned by a woman from Toowoomba who drove the car for 50 years before bequeathing it to the current owner. There’s a 1951 Bedford ute and a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr.
A sliding door inside the shed reveals a 1950’s inspired retro diner complete with milk bar, booths, jukeboxes and dodgem cars.
If the shed is Scotty’s domain, The Barn outside is Sarah’s kingdom.
Here she serves up traditional leaf tea poured from a teapot into enamel mugs, alongside scones, cream and homemade jam. The corrugated tin roof adds authenticity to this Aussie experience whilst the farming and domestic memorabilia located around sets the mood.
Location: 1709 Flagstone Creek Rd Upper Flagstone Qld 4344
Visit a local farm shed
Ghost Gully Produce is owned and operated by Gary and Kym Samuelson for the past 13 years. Here you can do a tour with Gary of the farm and see how they manufacture and process hydroponic lettuce and herbs for the wholesale market.
Ghost Gully also operate a farm shed where you can pop by and pick up some of their fresh produce and sometimes that of nearby locals to take home with you.
Location: 2 Rangeview Drive Gatton Qld 4343
Stay at a country homestead
After a busy day gallivanting all over the Lockyer Valley you’ll need somewhere peaceful to spend the night. Just outside Laidley you’ll find a special place to stay called Branell Homestead.
In 2003, owners Kathy and Troy Brady purchased this 80 acre property as their home. The old timber cottage on it captured their heart and it was their plan to bring it back to its former life.
Nature had something to say about that however. With little resistance offered between the timber stumps and the timber framed house, the termites had a party and the cottage was unable to be saved.
The homestead was born and finished in 2008, a labour of love for the Brady Family who had built it using their own owner-builder licence. Before long, they decided to turn it into a B&B.
Starting out using only part of the building for guests, the Brady’s now live in a separate house, handing the entire space over to visitors.
Contemporary accommodation has also been added to the homestead offering. Up on the hill, with stunning views over the valley, three modular homes have been added. If you want a piece of this paradise all on your own, the cabins are the place to be.
Each cabin has three bedrooms, two with views over the valley. There is also a lounge area, fully functional kitchen and outdoor deck.
The property is located just outside Laidley, in the Lockyer Valley, just one hour from Brisbane.
Location: 12 Paroz Rd Laidley QLD 4341
Day 2 Itinerary Lockyer Valley
Day 2 Lockyer Valley
Have breakfast at Forest Hill
Forest Hill may only be a small town but it’s got plenty of character and the small number of stores that operate here are quirky and of excellent quality. After a hearty breakfast from the extensive menu at Cafe 4342 or Caffe Sorella check out the beautiful homemade items across the road at Queen B’s Collective.
Location: 40 Victoria St Forest Hill Qld 4147
Have morning tea at the Floating Cafe
The bright purple facade stands out on a highway with little other buildings around. It’s a rather poignant place for a stopover for me, given it doesn’t feel all that long ago when I saw this cafe almost brought to its knees.
Grantham was one of the towns significantly impacted by the flood of January 2011. In the week after the flood, we went to Grantham (under police escort) to help set up a temporary shower/toilet facility at the local school so that the residents could use if they had no other option.
The Floating Cafe felt the full impact of the force of the water as it ripped through the town. It is one of the few surviving buildings in its immediate area. Its name, the Floating Cafe is certainly an enduring reminder of this dreadful moment in time.
Now, however, it’s the place of happy people and happy occasions. Owner Tabitha Drescher welcomes her customers, both locals and visitors alike with her range of homemade cakes and hearty meals. Prices are very reasonable too.
Location: 2 Harris Street Grantham Qld 4347
Location: 34 Lake Apex Dr, Gatton QLD 4343
Have a picnic lunch and go horeseriding
Owner Sue Renfree’s farm, where she operates a farmstay and horseriding adventure, is the perfect way to end a weekend of activities in the Lockyer Valley.
With 1000 acres to spread your wings, it’s unlikely you’ll see too much of Sue’s property, but it’s a piece of heaven only two hours from a major capital city.
Jump on one of Sue’s horses and meander your way slowly alongside the creek bed. The horses are in excellent condition and are well looked after by Sue, unlike some previous horse riding businesses I’ve seen.
You can turn this visit into something very special with the addition of a picnic. Talk to Sue about the best location and she’ll probably lead you up to the top of a hill, with stunning views around her property.
As we sat here with Sue, enjoying our own picnic, she mused that “seeing various shades of green keeps your blood pressure down”. To those who may have never witnessed the impact of drought, this reflection might not make sense. To those who have, our eyes are immediately drawn to the hills and the blending of dark and light green. In an instant, we understood.
Location: 171 Wagners Road Fordsdale Qld 4343
Contact Sue for horseriding , picnics and camping opportunities.
Other things to do in the Lockyer Valley
- Laidley Village – every Friday
- Mulgowie Farmers Markets – first Saturday month
- Ma Ma Creek Markets – second Saturday month
- Murphys Creek Markets – third Saturday month
- Plainlands Country Markets – third Sunday month
- Laidley Markets – fourth Saturday month
- Hatton Vale Twilight Markets – fourth Friday month
Festivals and events
- Gatton Motorfest – March
- Laidley Country Music Festival – March
- Lockyer Valley Heritage Festival – May
- Chrome and Clutter Retro Festival – June
- Mulgowie Bush Dance and Mulga Bullride – June
- Laidley & Gatton Show – June
- Laidley Spring Festival – September
- Murphys Creek Chilli Festival – October
- Lights on the Hill Memorial Convoy – October
- Historic Truck and Machinery Show – November
For a full, up to date list of festivals and events visit the Luvya Lockyer website.
Holmwood Produce Lavender Farm
If it can be made from lavender you’ll find it here. Everything is hand made and uses Australian ingredients. Vistors are welcomed here by appointment.
Location: 15 Thornton School Road Thornton Qld 4341 via Laidley
German Bake & Wurst House
As you might expect with a name like this, German heritage is at the centre of everything here. The food is especially good and based on authentic German recipes.
Location: 108 Postmans Ridge Road Helidon Spa Qld 4344
How to get to the Lockyer Valley
Whilst you can catch a bus or train to the Lockyer Valley, for the purposes of this article, we recommend driving.
Driving to the Lockyer Valley is the best option if you are able as it gives you the freedom to go wherever you want and to be flexible. Whilst we have suggested an itinerary in this article, you can really do it in any order you like.
If you are visiting Brisbane or its surrounding areas and don’t have a car, we use and recommend Rentalcars.
There are airports located in Brisbane (domestic and international), Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast (domestic and international) and Toowoomba Wellcamp. (domestic)
If you can’t drive yourself, Local Taste Discoveries is a local tour operator that will help create a perfect full-day or half-day foodie trip for you.
Lockyer Valley Accommodation
Enjoy this three-bedroom house with wrap-around verandah. Located near Laidley it’s the perfect place for a drink and a BBQ whilst watching the sunset.
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Beer and Croissants was a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland. As you know, we love a good road trip and food is at the centre of everything we do. As always, all opinions, content and images are entirely our own.
COVID-19 Update: As a result of the coronavirus and government regulation, many restaurants, cafes, museums and other attractions may have closed or changed their opening times. Please consult your own government travel advisories before booking any travel or travel-related activities.
About the author
Kerri left her corporate career to pursue a different lifestyle, establishing the successful travel website, Beer and Croissants.
Kerri and her husband Stirling now regularly travel the world, where eating great food, sampling local beverages and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.
You also won’t find them too far away from an epic road trip either, with motorhomes their speciality.