Hi all. Today we have a GUEST POST! Sarah Sackville from www.supboardguide.com who has written a piece about the ‘Granite Belt’ in Australia’s Great Dividing range, which pierces through the eastern part of Australia from Queensland down to Victoria. Many thanks to Sarah for this great article! And for giving me a chance to take it a little bit easier this week! 🙂
Hidden out in the Great Dividing Range is the granite belt. It settles in, on and around a town called Stanthorpe. An area well known for a few things.
- One, being the apple orchards that supply most of Queensland’s $40 million income from the industry.
- Two is its multitudes of vineyards that produce some of the finest wine I’ve ever tasted (In Australia that is).
- And of course, the Girraween National Park where boulders the sizes of houses teeter precariously on the sides of mountains where it would seem a breeze would be all that was needed to cause mass destruction.
Now I love a good apple, a crispy, fruity, sweet apple. There’s not much worse you can do your taste buds than envision a mouthful of juicy crunch and receive powdery blandness from a bad apple. Though there are only so many apples one person can eat.
So I took a break from riding and reviewing SUP’s in Byron Bay for a weekend to explore and get to know more of what this amazing area has to offer.
However, if you are thinking about but feeling deterred about the distance I can confidently assure you that it’s well worth the visit.
So here are some hot tips for the area!
Girraween National Park
**Interesting Fact** – Girraween is an indigenous word meaning “place of flowers”. The area is consumed with colours and scents in Spring.
Girraween is a sprawling 117 km2 chunk of National Park that features striking granite boulders and mountains all shades of greys and even into pinks and sandy tones. It features crystal clear water holes and cascading waterfalls. There are several places to camp in the NP as well as some local homesteads/cottages you can book short-term stays in.
The contrast of the granite stone with the water creates a unique feast for your eyes. Not only is it some of the most stunning locations to explore waterfalls, the combination of water and granite has made slippery slides everywhere! The granite smoothed down over thousands of years of water pounding it and you can simply sit down and voila! You have a natural outdoor slippery slide.
Rock Formations (Hiking and climbing)
Also found here is Bald Rock, the second largest monolith rock formation in Australia (Uluru being number one). And for those wanting something a bit more easy going is the Pyramids, some spectacular domes. The National Park is a popular place for rock climbers, with boulders to conquer every direction you look. There are multitudes of hikes with varying difficulty, those able and willing to push themselves a little will definitely be greeted with a surreal serenity that can only be found in the natural Australian bush.
As I touched on earlier, the granite belt is home to a multitude of vineyards. The cool climate (it sometimes snows!!) is perfect for growing grapes that are then turned into a range of wines. You can find high-quality bottles of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay and more recently a success in Verdelho.
There are many vineyard tours operating in the area or you can have a read up on the popular spots and take yourself on a tour! I was lucky enough to be staying with some friends who know the area well and keep a healthy stock of fine wines in their homes. The experience of seeing the grapes and process is something I didn’t want to miss out on, however, I was there in winter, it’s FREEZING! For my coastal self anyway! So I couldn’t quite muster the courage to go out.
My standout favourite from the weekend was a bottle of Malbec from Bungawarra Wines. Ask after Tom Battle, the man knows everything and anything about wine!
The granite belt has it’s very own chocolate factory. I struggle to not spend at least $100 every time I’ve ever been there. Handmade bite-sized treats to glutenous cakes and mouthwatering creative hot chocolate recipes. There are some small cottages out the back you can stay in where freshly baked bread is delivered to your doorstep every morning with a basket of fresh local produce. The temptation to just eat chocolate all day is too much for me to stay. Though I did greatly admire their wooden ceilings and fireplaces.
Things To Think About
Climate – It can be very very cold as I discovered. I wasn’t entirely prepared especially as I had just finished shooting a new guide for my work (reviewing SUPs) and had done so in a singlet and shorts. Make sure you check the recent temperatures and bring appropriate layers of clothing. I ended up wearing my friend’s fathers jacket and resembling a marshmallow for most of the time.
Hiking – If you want to enjoy some of the hikes, plan ahead a little. There are so many and some take nearly a full day. Make sure you plan to be away for enough time that you get the most out of it! You can get full details of the walks on the NP website.
Accommodation – How do you want to stay? Do you want to be pampered or looking for some authentic camp out memories under the stars? There is a huge array of accommodation options which means whatever you are after is probably available. Like I mentioned this part of the world is pretty remote, so you won’t have hoards of tourists, however, at certain times of the year when there is the wine festival or produce festivals, it’s very wise to book ahead.
BIO: Hello! I’m Sarah Sacky, most call me Sacky, some call me Sarah. I work online reviewing and managing all things SUP over at www.supboardguide.com as well a few other tricks to keep the pennies flowing. Most weeks I find time to go explore wherever I may be calling home at that time. All things outdoors that incorporate sports or movement inspire me! With food and good wine being next in line!
Many thanks to Sarah for this post! Please do comment below – and May the Journey Never End!