Escape To The Country – South Burnett Region

The South Burnett region is a wine-growing region in South-East Queensland almost exactly two hours due west of where we are on the Sunshine Coast. Both these facts – the wine and the short distance – made it a perfect place for a last-minute weekend getaway now that intra-state travel restrictions have been lifted.

Getting there

The plan was simple: do our usual morning walk at 6am, come home for breakfast and to pack, hit the road once the school traffic is done, stop somewhere halfway for morning tea and arrive in plenty of time for wine tasting and lunch. Too easy. 

Our morning tea stop was in Kilkivan, a small town (pop 700ish) on the Wide Bay Highway not far from Gympie. As far as I could work out, Kilkivan was where gold was first discovered in Queensland. It’s also famous for the Kilkivan Great Ride – a scenic horse ride that people of all abilities come from miles around to participate in.

As for us, we just stopped for tea (me) and coffee (Grant) and an over-priced ordinary sausage roll (shared). As an aside Grant’s bought himself this portable Nespresso gadget at the camping store and was very chuffed with the result…

What happened after that might have been my fault – although I place most of the blame at Rhonda’s feet – Rhonda is the name we’ve given to our satnav. 

The part that could have been a little bit my fault is that I figured that if we were lunching at Barambah Cellars and staying at Barambah Station, it was fair to say that if I put Barambah into the sat nav we’d get there…right? Yes, I thought so too.

So we headed back down the highway and turned off near a place named Kinbombi onto a narrow road. It possibly should have been a hint that things weren’t quite right when the three caravans we were following all pulled over at the turn-off and consulted maps before turning back onto the highway. 

The road was lovely, but quickly narrowed, with some fabulous views across the valley. 

Then Rhonda instructed us to turn right…so we did…and crossed a cattle grid onto an unsealed road. Okay, we thought as we crossed another, the car is AWD, no problems. By the third cattle grid (and confused cattle), Grant asked, ‘Are you sure we’re on the right road?’ Then Rhonda said, ‘You have arrived at your destination.’

Ummmm… we were in the middle of flipping nowhere. Barambah, it would appear, is a locality rather than a town. We had one tiny bar of reception at the exact point where Barambah (if it existed) was, and I used it to plot a course to Barambah Cellars.

We’d gone about 100m down the road (and I use the term “road” loosely) when we came to a closed stock gate – one of those ones with a sign saying it’s an agricultural biosecurity area. We’ve come to a stop at the gate and Grant is wondering how far back he has to reverse before he can find somewhere to turn around and in the meantime, Rhonda is telling is to “proceed to route proceed to route” – the route being straight through that gate. Giving up we re-traced our way back onto the highway and resolutely ignored Rhonda for the next half an hour.

Barambah Cellars

Lunch, when we finally got there, was at Barambah Cellars – a joint venture between three wine-growing families. Because of social distancing, the tastings are done as seated “wine flights”. We order an 8 flight for me (naturally) and a 5 flight for the designated driver.

The wines are good – Italian varietals mostly, like sangiovese, nebbilio and temperanillo. We also tried the viognier and rosato. With a Greek-style platter to share, it was the perfect lunch.

And yes, we brought home a few bottles…

The Stockman’s Cottage at Barambah Station

Our home for the next two nights was this cottage – the Stockman’s Cottage at Barambah Station.

Located about 5km out of Moffatdale and the wineries, Rhonda starred again and tried to get us to turn off the highway into a fenced paddock. Thankfully our host’s instructions saved the day.

This cottage had everything we could need and more for a weekend getaway. With a fully equipped kitchen and nothing open for meals close by, we chose to buy groceries from the supermarket at Murgon (about 16kms away) and cooked our evening meals outside on the portable gas burner we’d brought with us. Not only did it save us from having to clean the stove when we left, but we could also pretend that we were cooking over a campfire. #sadbuttrue. Besides, the stars were amazing.

With very little phone reception there was nothing for it but to open one of those bottles of wine, set out some cheese, grab a book from the bookshelf, and settle back and listen to the serenity – and the lowing of the cattle.

Barambah Station

The station has been running since 1843, with the homestead (up the hill from our cottage) being built in 1905 (or thereabouts). These days the owners run mostly Santa Gertrudis cattle, with some Angus and a few Wagyu on their 4000 acres.

We walked each morning – our usual 5-6 kms – yet didn’t get as far as a boundary fence – this is a massive property. Instead of our beach walk, we walked through paddocks, with watchful bulls, and skittish cows.

Bunya Mountains

Bunya Mountains National Park is 100km down the road, and we drove down there (via Kingaroy and back via Nanango) for a look on Saturday, stopping to have lunch at one of the cafes in the tourist village – scones and cauliflower soup.

On the way back we stopped in at the Peanut Wagon at Nanango for some fabulous all-peanut peanut butter.

Unfortunately, the weather had closed in so it wasn’t ideal for sightseeing or walking, but we will be back – there are some great walking tracks that I’d love to try.

Looking across to the Darling Downs

What else…

Normally the wineries around here are the star attraction. With social distancing making it difficult for cellar doors to open without substantial changes, only Barambah Cellars was open when we visited. The others are expected to be open again by July. This also meant that we had problems sourcing and buying local produce as this wasn’t available in the supermarket – although we did manage to find some local produce for sale in the bakery at Goomeri which also, apparently, serves the best coffee in the region (according to our host). Given that we’d travelled with an empty esky with a view to spending some money in the region, this was a tad disappointing.

We were, however, there for the country air and the break and will be back when everything is open again.

We found our accommodation on AirBNB. The property listing is here.

South Burnett