16 Things to Do with Kids on the Southern Downs and Granite Belt

With wineries, mountainous peaks, art galleries and romantic BnBs, you’d be forgiven for thinking Southern Downs and Granite Belt is an adult-only destination. But that’s not the case! Here’s 16 things you can do with kids of all ages:


1. Visit a Bushranger’s Hideout!

photo taken from the lookout at Donnellys Castle near Stanthorpe

The original bushranger hideout for ‘Thunderbolt’, Donnelly’s Castle (which is more cave than castle) is great for kids of all ages.

Donnelly’s Castle is a granite rock formation that you can walk between, around and over! The massive boulders are just as spectacular as some of the rock formations in Girraween National Park, and is far more accessible for young adventurers. The site offers boulders to scramble over and hidden passageways to explore, as well as spectacular views of the surrounding area from the 200 metre walk to the top.

2. Stretch the legs at Girraween National Park

Girraween National Park Granite Arch

Kids need to burn off some energy? Girraween National Park’s 30km of walking trails is the perfect spot for restless legs! Try the Granite Arch walk (pictured above). It’s a fairly short, easy trail that’s perfect for all ages and follows some fascinating rock formations, with granite archways and secret caves, allowing the kids to play bushranger for the day!

3. Visit the Big Apple

Image by Keith Barnett

What’s a Queensland road trip without stopping at an iconic ‘big thing’ on the side of the road? The ‘Big Apple’ will greet you on the New England Highway as you approach Stanthorpe, giving the kids endless photo opportunities! There’s parking onsite (photo opportunity only, for food try Suttons Apple farm across the highway).

4. Camp Under the Stars

A family escape to the country is all about leaving the iPads at home and reconnecting with each other and nature, and there’s no better way to do that than camping under a starlit sky. You’ll find a huge variety of camping and caravanning spots in the Southern Downs and Granite Belt, from National Parks, to tourist parks and bush camping too.

5. Tempt Your Sweet Tooth

Our foodie paradise is not just for adults! It’s easy to treat the kids (and yourself!) to a delicious stop when you’re travelling through the Granite Belt, with plenty of options for a cheeky morning tea stopover. Choose between apple pie, handmade chocolates, berry waffles and heaps more! Check out some of the enticing hotspots.

6. Take a selfie in front of a granite pyramid

You don’t need to fly to Egypt to take a selfie with the pyramids. Head to Ballandean!  Built from blocks of local granite, the pyramid stands 17.5 metres in height, 30 metres square at the base and contains 7,500 tonnes of rock. It was built using an excavator and dump truck and took eight months to complete.  For directions on how to get to it go here. The pyramid sits on private property, so no approaching the pyramid, however the roadside is close enough to capture a view and a photo of this impressive site.

7. Get festive at the Granite Belt Christmas Farm

Get festive at the Granite Belt Christmas Farm, in Applethorpe. Open all year round, let the kids explore Santa’s animals,  wander through the fields of real Christmas trees and savor the fresh smell of pine or visit the farm In harvest season and let the kids pick the perfect tree for your family festivities as the big day draws near.

8. Pick Your Own Strawberries

You haven’t experienced Summer on the Southern Downs and Granite Belt if you haven’t savoured a local strawberry! Embark on a pick-your-own berry adventure at Ashbern Farms (between October and May) and enjoy some of the best strawberries found in Queensland, thanks to our mild summer temps!

9. Walk through fields of spring flowers

The name ‘Girraween’ means ‘place of flowers’ referring to why this spectacular Queensland national park is even more special during springtime.  Wildflowers appear amidst the granite boulders and rocky outcrops during the spring months and the mild spring weather makes for an ideal time to walk the many walking trails. Image by Joyce Bryant.

10. Take on a maze!

Come and get lost in the Granite Belt Maze and try to solve the riddles in this fun adventure destination for all ages. The venue has wheelchair access to most areas and there is a mini maze for the younger children as well as a hexagonal maze with obstacles to squeeze through! Solve riddles as you work your way through and out of the maze. All entry fees include the mazes and 1 game of mini golf.

Open daily during QLD school holidays and other times, closed Tuesday’s and Wednesdays. Last entry at 4pm.


11. Farmstay

Girl feeding lamb

Say howdy to life in the country by experiencing first hand how a functioning farm works. There are a number of farm stays in the area with plenty of activities available including live shearing demonstrations, horseback riding, milking cows, whip cracking and plenty of 1:1 time with the animals.

12. Leslie Dam

Leslie Dam

Swap the surf and the sand for freshwater and fish at Leslie Dam, one of Queensland’s most popular freshwater fishing and camping destinations. It’s also an ideal spot for swimming and watersports, so BYO kayak, tinnie or jetski and head out onto the water! You’ll spot plenty of kangaroos onsite too!

13. Queen Mary Falls Animal Experiences

Queen Mary Falls overlooking waterfall

Queen Mary Falls is one of the region’s must stunning attractions, with an easy stroll that takes you to the lookout point (even suitable for toddlers). Hand feed rosellas and lorikeets at the top of the park (you can BYO feed or buy some from Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park and Cabins) or embark on the Twilight Native Animal Walk, where you are likely to see bandicoots, kangaroos, and sugar gliders. From late October to early December fireflies light up the forest and glowworms illuminate the caverns near the Falls. This natural phenomenon occurs between 6pm and 8pm.

14. Fossicking

Eureka! Try your luck at striking gold with three fossicking areas in the Warwick region, including Thanes Creek, Durikai State Forest and Talgai State Forest. If you’re in the Stanthorpe area you can check out Swiper’s Gully. Keep in mind you need to purchase a fossicking permit in Queensland before you head off, or drop into the Warwick Visitor Information Centre to purchase one (cash only).

15. Horse Riding

Get the kids excited with horse riding at Bestbrook Farmstay, offering authentic farm stay holidays and weekend getaways. Bestbrook are located 90mins from Brisbane and 2hrs from the Gold Coast in the beautiful South East Queensland country. Horse rides cater for beginner riders up to the more experienced, with  1-hour and 2-hour horse trail rides. All rides are rated to suit the weakest rider in the group, this ensures that everyone has a great time and comes home safely. Also available are riding lessons and parent led horse rides, so even the most timid young ones can have a go!

16. Mary Poppins House, Allora

Picture of Mary Poppins House

Did you know, the author of Mary Poppins, PL Travers, lived in Allora as a child when her father Travers Goff managed the Australian Joint Stock Bank, now known as the Mary Poppins House (built in circa 1880, pictured). Take a tour of this Heritage listed house by contacting Les on 0428 746 458 or lesstruthers@bigpond.com.

And for those who counted, yes there are 4 things missing of the “20 things to do”! Stay tuned for more events when Covid-19 restrictions lift!

For more ideas on things to do in our backyard, check out  Things to Do section, or drop into our Stanthorpe or Warwick Visitor Information Centres when you arrive and say hi! Our volunteers are ready to inspire you with fun and family activity for your holiday.

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