A region linked by close-knit farming communities, The Scenic Rim is ripe with opportunity to indulge in a weekend away with a paramour or a group of friends to make the most of a food trail adventure throughout the southern corner of Queensland.
Just over an hour's drive from Brisbane CBD, the sense of 'getting away from it all' washes over me as the city is swapped for mountain ranges. There's plans afoot for on-site accommodation at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm, our first stop of the day, but until then you're best to assign a designated driver and enjoy the 180 degree views from the cellar door. Overlooking this six hectare vineyard you can enjoy samples of their Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Rosa, and don't forget to save room for their signature lavender ice-cream with polenta snap and wild berries.
Arriving to our home for the night, Mount Barney Lodge, phone signal is intermittent to non-existent and before long we're all too focused on spotting poddy calves, horses, and commenting on the scenery to be concerned with scrolling through Instagram.
Whether you're spotting the local red-necked wallabies roaming the grounds, taking a guided bush-tucker walks or simply enjoying a good page turner from one of the homestead porches, your time here will be well spent. Owners Tracey and Innes Larkin are committed to keeping this eco-retreat a place to escape and unwind. Make sure you take advantage of sunset and sunrise times from the corporate camping ground to see Mount Barney in all its glory.
After a moment to take in our surrounds, we make treks to meet Emma and her alpaca tribe at Scenic Rim Hampers at 'Triple Peaks' in the foothills of Mount Barney National Park. It's a BYO picnic but if you've forgotten something to pair with your cheese and wine, Emma offers gourmet tasting of locally produced foods. We can't go past the capsicum chutney and spend the afternoon pondering just what we could bake with the lavender syrup. Poured over fresh pancakes or added to a smoothie seem to be our group's most popular suggestions.
With all important alpaca feeding photos snapped ready for uploading as soon as reception is in our favour again we bustle back into our Kia Carnival and set off up the road to Pietro and Desley Anglotto's Classi Di Cucina Cooking School. You'll know you're in the right place when you follow the red checked aprons from the main road. With more than 40 peacocks on the property chances are these colourful characters will greet you before Pietro. Former owners of the iconic UQ Schonell Pizza Café, we gather in their custom built kitchen to learn the secrets to a great pizza and discover simplicity is King! Texting a pizza emoji to order a slice seems wrong after making and tasting this fail proof method.
After taking in all the rousing conversation a character like Pietro offers around the dinner table a Sunday sleep in was in order. Awaking to the sounds of silence and feeling rested, we were ready to continue our adventures. Next stop: Lilydale Farm. As well as being a great spot to rest your head, this is the spot to dip your toes into farm life with horse-riding, milking a cow, feeding Pepper and George the resident pigs and more. Owners, Doug and Pam have created the perfect escape for city slickers complete with Pedro and Lucy the property's donkeys.
With appetites whipped up, it's off to our lunch by Poppi's Pantry (Boonah locals will know this wholefoods café well) at Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard with a side of 360 degree views. While we nosh on fresh falafels, and raw desserts by Erin and Andy, we are given insight to the vineyard by David McNaugh. His passion for the 57 acres, mostly of Chambourcin grapes, is clear as we sip their signature Rose, Verjuice with sparkling water and a tipple of their White Port with a side of chocolate. Everything in moderation, right?
As the country air works its magic to bring us all to a blissful state, we say goodbye to David at Bunjurgen and make way for our last stop – The Dugandan Pub or “The Dugie” as locals call it. This classic country pub sets the perfect scene to settle in under the trees out the back to let the kids roam and enjoy live music every Sunday afternoon.
As we sit on a wooden bench in the back garden of “The Dugie”, it's not hard to see why many flock to this hidden world tucked away a stone's throw from the hustle of Brisbane.
Name: Lani Paul
Word Count: 771
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