Escape to the Southern Downs to discover its beauty
IF YOU want to see the best of what country Queensland has to offer, a trip to the Southern Downs during the cooler months should be high on your travel list.
My husband and I had a weekend away at Killarney recently, a small town about two hours from Brisbane.
Our trip out country started after work on a Friday, and we arrived at Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Cottages by 7pm.
While on the road I imagined beautiful country scenery passing us by, but as the sun had already set, we were guided by a big bright moon.
If you can, I recommend leaving a little earlier than we did as the roads can be bumpy and narrow, and when you haven't travelled on them before, a little concerning.
I would also recommend taking a 4WD if you have one.
Our host at the cottages, Bev Ruskey greeted us with the cafe's monthly Indian Night.
It would be well worth timing your visit to the Southern Downs with Ms Ruskey's Indian Night, where a Nepalese chef cooks up a feast for guests.
Our cottage sat at the top of Spring Mountain on a piece of land Ms Ruskey bought in 1991, because "it was a nice spot".
She sat on the land for years, and 10 years ago finally built her dream business.
Today the business features three cottages, a cafe, three cows that wander the property and seven chooks that produce the eggs guests eat for breakfast.
From every window in the cottages and cafe there are views over the Condamine Gorge, Wilson's Peak and the Border Ranges.
In the early morning the Gorge disappears under a blanket of cloud, revealing the country-side later in the day.
On Saturday morning we headed back through Yangan to Spicers Peak Lodge in Maryvale.
The trip was longer than we expected and the road even bumpier than the one we travelled the previous night.
Once we made it up the mountain, a lodge appears as if out of nowhere.
There are cows grazing along the fence line, and the spot looks out over Main Range National Park.
The lodge features accommodation, a restaurant and Spa Anise.
The spa is an additional feature which was only built two years ago, and is open to guests and day-trippers.
We were treated to a massage at Spa Anise, followed by a three-course lunch at The Peak restaurant.
From the restaurant guests look out over views that range from Mt Mitchell to Ryans Ridge.
On our final day in the Southern Downs we headed off on a 4WD tour of the Condamine Gorge, with host Louise Brosnan of Cambanoora Co 4WD Tours.
What she doesn't know about Killarney and the Condamine Gorge, isn't worth knowing.
A fifth-generation Killarney resident Ms Brosnan not only runs tours in the area, but made the decision to move back to her hometown after travelling to the UK for five years.
Ms Brosnan grew up in a family of storytellers, so it is only fitting she is now passing those stories she was told as a child, onto people visiting the area she loves so dearly.
The Condamine Gorge, a bumpy two-hour drive, takes visitors through farming land, rainforests and more than 14 river crossings.
Our final destination was the Queen Mary Falls. A viewing platform allows visitors to see the waterfall which drops 40m over the basalt rock into the gorge below.
After a picnic it was time to start our journey back to Brisbane - it was a weekend to remember and one I recommend to all who are looking for a brief, but restful escape.