As June comes to an end, it is clear that winter is well and truly here. We said goodbye to weekends at the beach, lazy summer days, warm sunshine light-filled afternoons in the sun long ago, but that doesn’t mean a weekend vacay is off the cards because the cold has set in and cozy knits are required. Sure, Brisbane is surrounded by glorious beaches, swimming holes and grassy parks, but there are many, less well known places that surround the city and make for the perfect winter escape. Whether you’re looking for some time out on the weekend, or a longer stay for a special occasion, BT has you covered. We’ve picked the best, cosiest winter escapes to enjoy this winter and, as an added bonus, none are more than three hours away from the CBD!
Godshill Lodge, Bunya Mountains – An isolated part of the Great Dividing Range, the Bunya Mountains (approximately 3 hours from Brisbane) is the place to go for a true escape. Surrounded mostly by a national park, the Bunya Mountains are peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful and unspoiled. Wake up to frost on the grass, feed colourful birds from your veranda, watch Wallabies graze on your front lawn and be greeted by a range of nocturnal animals at your window by night. For the more active, there are a handful of bush walks to choose from, where you can spot majestic Bunya pines and shy wildlife until your heart is content. Godshill Lodge is just one of almost a hundred chalet-style properties to choose from, families, large groups or couples will be sure to find something secluded. Pull out your warmest clothes though, the Bunya Mountains usually average a temperature at least seven degrees lower than Brisbane, and have hit below zero on numerous occasions. You’ll need to pack your own food when visiting Bunya Mountains, because there is only one restaurant on site and the nearest towns, Dalby and Kingaroy, are 60 kilometres away. If you’re after some down-time away from technology, then this is the place to be as there is limited data coverage and reception, so enjoy your time offline because you come back to the big smoke. Visit http://bunyamountains.com.au for more information.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Lamington – Still need a holiday, but can’t imagine sitting and reading around the fire all day? This retreat, located in Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland, is designed for the more active among us. Activities at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat change daily, but each day starts at 6:45 with a walk to see the native birds followed by segway rides, Four Wheel Drive tours, walking tours, wildlife shows, exhilarating rides on the flying fox, theater presentations and a nightly glow worm tour. For those wanting a more relaxed (or adults only) holiday, why not partake in some wine tasting at the nearby Canungra Vineyard, or make a visit to the Lost World Spa, conveniently located onsite? Accommodation ranges from reasonably priced rooms to luxurious villas. Bonus – staff are extremely environmentally conscious and all accommodation/activities are eco friendly. Visit http://www.oreillys.com.au for more information.
Spicers Peak Lodge, Maryvale – Located on a mountain in the middle of the Scenic Rim, Spicers Peak is Queensland’s highest non-alpine lodge. This means one certain thing: it’s very cold – in winter, an average high temperature will be just 20 degrees. While the temperature is low, the prices are high with luxury accommodation at its finest. An overnight stay will set you back $1000! So if a special winter getaway is what you area after, than this may be exactly what you are looking for. Exclusive and intimate, accommodation (only five lodges on site) with mountain views all around, king-sized beds, bluestone fireplaces, outdoor spas and attentive, caring staff will make you feel like a visiting royal. Visit http://spicersretreats.com/spicers-peak-lodge/ for more information.
Apple Tree Cottage, Montville – Montville is one of Queensland’s best-kept secrets. Just 90 minutes from Brisbane, Montville is in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and has a pleasant climate all year round. We love Apple Tree Cottage due its closeness to the town centre and complimentary chocolates, but it is just one of dozens of places to stay in Montville (you could event venture to the neighbouring towns of Maleny and Mapleton). The old-style farm cottage can sleep up to five people, while the studio next door sleeps two. The town of Montville exudes an old timely charm, so expect to find a lot of chic cafes, boutique shops and traditional candy stores and learn more about the history of this area as you walk through the town centre. Visit http://www.appletreecottage.com.au for more information.
Mouses Houses Retreat, Springbrook Mountain – As stated on its website, staying at Mouses Houses Retreat is like stepping into another world. While some of the chalets can comfortably sleep up to eight people, this is really the getaway you want to make with that special someone. Nestled deep in the Springbrook forest in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Mouses Houses is romantic and deeply relaxing. Think dappled sunlight, cosy, undisturbed accommodation and peaceful silence interrupted only by the running creek nearby. Choose one of the twelve chalets, adorably named after fairy-tale characters, some closer to the creek than others. For a really special holiday, stay in the Luxury Spa Chalet, in a more secluded location with a private rock pool and hot tub. This retreat is aimed at those really wanting to unwind, but if you start to feel a little restless, a drive to the Gold Coast is 30 minutes away. Visit http://www.mouseshouse.com.au/explore.html for more information.
Diamondvale Bed and Breakfast, Stanthorpe – Another one located in the Scenic Rim, Diamondvale B&B in Stanthorpe is just two and half hours from Brisbane. Some of the cottages are over 100 years old, but have been refurbished and are fully self-contained. Take your pick from one or two bedroom cottages, or go with a larger group and stay in the Lodge. Situated on a farm, Diamondvale is a unique experience and a great place for families. Let your kids help the staff feed chickens, ducks and horses, or play with Shadow and Cara, the two dogs who wander from cottage to cottage. These beautiful animals will be your new best friends for the entirety of your stay. Stanthorpe is also known for its collection of wineries, so visit some (or nearby town Ballandean) for a few tastings of the local tipple. Visit http://www.diamondvalecottages.com.au for more information.
So tell us, what’s your favourite winter escapes? When the weather cools and all you want to do is rug up by the fire with a good book, graze on cheese and wine all afternoon and bake fresh sweets to warm your soul, where do you dream of going?