Can’t get to Tassie? Brrr try Stanthorpe
Stanthorpe - have you ever been? I've lived in Queensland most of my life although I was born in that cockroach infested state just south of the border - but don't tell anyone.
But I had never been to Stanthorpe. Most of what I know about the place comes from nightly weather reports in winter when I note how cold it is there. And if you're heading out there this week keep your brass monkeys indoors. (The expression "it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" may not be politically correct nowadays so I won't use it).
We went last week for the first time ever and it was cold enough. This time last year we holidayed interstate, in Tassie to be exact, looking for a wintry experience. That's not possible this year with COVID-19 restrictions so we opted for our own little piece of Tassie, Queensland's Granite Belt and the place that is often the coldest in the state. I mean if it's not Stanthorpe it's nearby Applethorpe. Brrr.
Discovering our own region is a great idea as is the tourism campaign 'Queensland - You're Good to Go'. Apparently we normally spend $10 billion holidaying interstate and overseas so Tourism Minister Kate Jones urges us to "spend that money at home this year and support local businesses that are doing it tough".
"People often say to me - I've always wanted to see Carnarvon Gorge, I've always wanted to get to Airlie Beach," Ms Jones says. "Well now's the time."
And for us (me, my wife Sandra and son Hamish) it was time for Stanthorpe.
Being arts editor I knew the town was home to the popular Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery and I was also aware that it had some interesting public art.
Yes I know all about the wineries too but as I'm a non-drinker that didn't really interest me. Girraween National Park is another big attraction but we didn't make it there this time. That's on the list for the next visit.
We only had two nights and we wanted to just mooch around town and soak up the ambience of our digs, the highly recommended Diamondvale Cottages on the edge of town.
It's a gorgeous place with lovely cabins and we spent quite a bit of time sitting by a roaring fire there looking out the window at the kangaroos grazing outside. When I first saw one I thought it was a strategically placed concrete garden adornment, until it moved.
In town we met up with Mary Findlay, director of the gallery and she took us on a walking tour of town on a cool drizzly day including a visit to the lovely heritage railway station which is now an arts hub.
Mary's from Scotland originally and used a Scottish word to describe the weather during our walk. Dreich. It means cold, drizzly and miserable. It was and we loved every minute of it. Who knew you could get this Tasmanian weather in Queensland? Well, lots of people but it was news to me.
Stanthorpe has some great mural art by recognised artists including a wall featuring a charming portrait of local identity, the late Angelo Valiante, by the world renowned Brisbane street artist Guido Van Helten which was commissioned by the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery.
There are a number of works to discover on a chilly walk and the gallery itself is small but has an impressive collection. Mary Findlay and her committee are campaigning to get a bigger gallery which would certainly be a great tourist attraction.
The town is pretty and we walked from our digs into the centre along picturesque Quartpot Creek.
With restaurants reopening we tried Essen, a great little eatery run by Clarissa Sibley and her mum Claudia.
We had a lovely dinner there and for lunch on our day out in Stanthorpe we ate at Varias Restaurant at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism facility. It's highly recommended and I don't want to sound gauche but they don't skimp on portions!
Importantly, there are a number if places where you can get well caffeinated in Stanthorpe. My wife's favourite tipple is Botero coffee and we found a cafe serving it which please her no end. Coffee is important people! So there are wine and cheese trails too and a famous apple pie maker at nearby Thulimbah which was closed when we dropped by, dammit.
Okay so it's a three-hour drive from Brisbane but it's a picturesque one although there's a few truckies I would like to offer a raised digit to for tailgating us but never mind.
People we met in Stanthorpe seemed shocked we had never been before.
"But we're here now," I offered. Not sure if that was good enough. They're very proud of their town. And so they should be. Maybe some of you have never been before either? Now's the perfect time.
Queensland - You're Good to Go they said. So we went.
Originally published as Can't get to Tassie? Brrr try Stanthorpe