The Ultimate 4 Day Family Country Road Trip

If it’s time for the kids to breathe in some fresh country air, reconnect with nature (and each other!) and go offline, then bundle them in the car and head south west to the Southern Downs and Granite Belt. Say howdy to life in the country where there’s horses to ride, berries to pick and stars to gaze!

Day One: Brisbane to Maryvale

The road from Brisbane to the Southern Downs is an easy one, heading out through Ipswich and onto the Cunningham Highway. If you need to stop half way, the roadside town of Aratula provides a handful of eating spots and service stations. From there, you’ll start your ascent up to Cunningham’s Gap, where you’ll pass through the Great Dividing Range. At the crest, keep an eye out for the carpark on your right hand side where you can pull over and embark on one of the many walks in this Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Enjoy a packed lunch with the family at one of the park’s shaded picnic areas nestled in cool forest beside a clear mountain stream.

After lunch, jump back in the car and start your descent down the mountain and into the Southern Downs region. Head to one of the farm stays in the region where the kids can experience first hand how a functioning farm works. There are a couple of farm stays in the area with plenty of activities including live shearing demonstrations, horseback riding, milking cows, whip cracking and plenty of one-on-one time with the animals. Overnight Maryvale.

Day Two: Warwick and Allora

Your adventure continues this morning as you say goodbye to farm life and head to the region’s main centre, Warwick, about 30 minutes down the road. Known as the rose and rodeo capital, Warwick is a charming country town steeped in history. Sitting gracefully on the banks of the Condamine River, historic Warwick features some of the state’s finest original sandstone buildings. The town is best explored by embarking on one of the 5 Walks of Warwick, with ‘The River Walk’ perfect if you’ve brought the bicycles with you.

In town, head to the Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre which exhibits interactive and static displays, live rodeo demonstrations, a theatrette and museum, giving the kids a taste of life in this rodeo-lovin’ town. If the little ones need to use some energy up, a stop at the Warwick Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Centre (WIRAC) is a must with its huge indoor pool and rock climbing wall, or head to Leslie Dam, about 10 minutes out of town for endless swimming and fishing (and plenty of kangaroos to spot!).

You’ll find endless options for lunch, from takeaway joints to cafes, country pubs, bakeries or supermarkets to by your own.

After lunch, head 20 minutes north to the charming town of Allora, which has big literary and Hollywood connections. The author of Mary Poppins, PL Travers, lived in Allora and you can take a tour of her Heritage listed childhood home. In summer, spectacular sunflower fields line the highways and country roads attracting thousands of snap-happy visitors.

Head back to Warwick and take in one of the famous Southern Downs sunsets from your accommodation. Overnight Warwick.

TOP TIP: For a real sneak peek into country life, head to the weekly Pig n Calf Markets where you’ll be able to pick up antiques, bric a brac, and of course, pigs and calves! Or if you’ve got extra days up your sleeve, step back in time with a trip on Warwick’s Southern Downs Steam Railway which operates steam train tours from Warwick to Clifton and Stanthorpe. 

Day Three: Stanthorpe

Enjoy a quick breakfast before hitting the road about 50 minutes south to the Granite Belt and its main town of Stanthorpe. With wineries, breweries and romantic BnBs, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Granite Belt is an adults-only destination. But that’s not the case!

As you drive down the New England Highway, you won’t be able to miss the Big Apple, which marks the fact you’re in apple-country now! Pull into a side road so you can grab a selfie, before heading across the highway to Sutton’s for their famous apple pie! Close by to the Big Apple, there’s a number of family-friendly activities to choose from including:

  • Law Dogs Australia – pooch crazy kids will love seeing specialist dog training in action at one of their bi-weekly sit down shows (more during busy times).
  • The Granite Belt Maze – get those brains working with a massive maze, unique riddles, mini golf course and giant chess set.
  • Granite Belt Christmas Farm – This farm brings the Christmas Spirit alive all year round, with festive goodies, animals and real pine trees for sale.
  • Ashbern Farms – from October to May, embark on a pick-your-own strawberry adventure!

Head into Stanthorpe to fuel up with plenty of food options to choose from, or head to Quart Pot Creek for a picnic amongst the trees. After lunch, it’s time 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 – 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.

Head back to Stanthorpe to settle into your accommodation. Overnight Stanthorpe.

Day Four: Killarney to Brisbane

Say goodbye to the Granite Belt, as you jump back in the car and head north to Killarney via Mount Lindesay Road. The drive will take you an hour, with part of the road not sealed, but still very accessible by all cars and caravans. You’ll cross over the border twice before you enter Killarney, where rolling hills, secluded valleys and dramatic waterfalls greet you.

The waterfall chasing in Killarney is next level. Head off on The Falls Drive, which takes in Browns Falls, Daggs Falls and the popular Queen Mary Falls, part of Main Range National Park, which provides ample picnic spots and spectacular views. Spend some time exploring the Queen Mary Falls circuit, a 40 minute walk that takes you from the lookouts at the top of the falls to the creek below. Across the road at Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park the kids will love hand-feeding king parrots and crimson rosellas.

Continue on the Falls Drive to your final destination, Carr’s Lookout, where you can stop to take in the stunning views before setting off to Brisbane via Boonah.

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