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Outback Queensland invites you to explore your backyard

Blackall Sculpture Trail (image supplied - Outback Queensland Tourism)
Blackall Sculpture Trail (image supplied - Outback Queensland Tourism)

How’s your passport looking right about now?

Likely shoved away in a drawer, a little dusty and rejected we reckon. And whilst we could go on about the woes of not being able to travel overseas and how it’s really, really bad and making us all sad, we must remind ourselves — we live in Australia.

We didn’t get the name of The Lucky Country for no reason. International visitors from far and wide are almost always taken back by the vastness and diversity of our nation, then, of course, the glorious beaches and natural wonders we have, before inevitably falling for our enigmatic Outback.

After all, the Outback can be as big if not bigger than most European countries!

How much of the Outback have you seen? For most of us, the answer is very little if anything at all, however, Outback Queensland Tourism wants to change all of that. They have just recently launched a carefully curated driving guide that highlights twelve tailored road trip itineraries and unmissable experiences. The guide promises to excite and inspire anyone who reads it to pack up the car and venture out into the undiscovered back corners of our Sunshine State. We do recommend telling your boss first though.

Explore Outback Queensland (image supplied - Outback Queensland Tourism)
Explore Outback Queensland (image supplied - Outback Queensland Tourism)

The Queensland Outback varies a lot and has all sorts of alluring things to capture the imagination for all of the family, from friendly fossil adventures, hidden gorges, Indigenous art, gold rush pioneering history right through to some jaw-dropping luxury stays.

Queensland’s big backyard spans 932,678km square (two-thirds of the state) and Outback Queensland Tourism is looking to educate Aussies on what the region has to offer and how it can be explored throughout the year.

The recently released Drive Guide showcases in detail eye-opening adventures, rich cultural experiences, beautiful landscapes, indulgent retreats, and world-class Outback events – all naturally topped off with a generous serving of quintessential country hospitality.

“It has been a great summer for those in the Outback with the summer rains breathing even more life into the region, bringing along the spectacular Outback Queensland birdlife and wildflowers that truly are a sight to behold,” says Outback Queensland Tourism CEO Denise Brown.

Adels Grove - Lawn Hill (image supplied - Outback Queensland Tourism)
Adels Grove - Lawn Hill (image supplied - Outback Queensland Tourism)

“From unbeatable bakeries to coffee that’d give your suburban local a run for its money, Outback Queensland has a lot on offer, and we are looking forward to showcasing it to the rest of the state.”

It’s not just hospitality either. Queensland has some of the best examples of prehistoric history in comparison to any other state. Add to this, quirky and unique experiences like Windorah’s International Yabby Race or how about a visit to Queensland’s most remote pub in Middleton to wet your whistle?

There is so much to see and do, making it almost impossible to do just one trip! So what are you waiting for? Get to it – start planning here!

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Why you need to take a day trip to Mount Tamborine

Curtis Falls image by Queensland

So we’re allowed to venture up to 150 kilometres away but we live on the Gold Coast so we already live in paradise. We’re also very keen for an adventure and to see something a little bit different than what we’ve been looking at for the past two months. What are we to do?

How about a little day trip (or spend the whole weekend if you wish) to Mount Tamborine? An absolutely stunning spot that’s only about 45 minutes away and offers more good times than you can probably jam into just one day honestly.

Let’s discuss. The drive itself is lovely and relaxing, winding up the mountain into the lush greenery and watching the city recede behind you. Once there, you’ll find yourself in a sweet little mountaintop village, surrounded by rainforest and on chillier days, with a low fog descending from above.

Now there are so many things to do once you get there, starting with tea and scones obviously. The Gallery Café has long been a favourite with an impressive array of teas (we’re quite partial to the Devonshire variety) plus of course, some warm, fluffy, freshly baked scones to kick things off. If it’s a bit on the nippy side up there, you can snuggle by the fireplace and not even venture outside.

Lemon Lovers Gelato (image supplied)
Lemon Lovers Gelato (image supplied)

You should though because you’re next stop is one of the many rainforest walks around the place including the Curtis Falls Walk (a fave) which yes has a waterfall at the end and is just a little 2km round trip. The Sandy Creek Circuit is also a beauty with views out over the Scenic Rim and also at a not-too-taxing 2.6km round trip.

Once you’ve sweated a bit, pop over to Lemon Lovers Gelato (across the road from the entrance to Curtis Falls) for a refreshing treat – they have over 20 flavours to choose from – and if you’re in a treat yo’self mood, Australian Outback Opals is right there filled with sparkly goodies too. How good are opals.

Right, so now you might like to wander up and down The Gallery Walk in the village, there are lots of quirky shops to peek into including fashion, jewellery, arts and crafts, produce, cellar door outlets, chocolate, fudge and cafes. All the best things.

One absolute must-visit is Granny Mac’s Famous Fudges because not only can you take home some of the yummiest fudge in the world, in pretty much any flavour you can think of, you can also stock up on an array of your favourite lollies (including some you forgot existed) for the trip home.

For a late lunch you need to head to Cedar Creek Estate where you can grab a picnic basket and set up on the lawn. For just $85, you’ll get an antipasto plate, a cheese plate, salads and warm dishes, muffins and chocolate and a basket and throw rug that you can take home. Enjoy all that while overlooking the stunning surrounds and that’s pretty much the most relaxing time there is.

Once you’re done there, head to Fortitude Brewing for some locally brewed, takeaway beers to enjoy once you get back home and right next door you’ll find Witches Chase Cheese who offer a huge variety of delicious goodness (including French and Italian flavours) you’ll absolutely want to stock up on. If wine is more your thing, pop over to Witches Falls Winery to grab a few bottles to take home.

Hopefully you went on a big enough stroll to not feel too full because that’s a lot of eating and drinking. Our fave. Finish the day off by watching one of the most magical sunsets you’ll ever see from Rotary Lookout. Perfection

Of course you can stay overnight on Mount Tamborine and find plenty more fun things to fill your time but well worth a day trip if that’s all you have.

Happy getting away from home for a bit.

Words by Kirra Smith

7 road trip worthy restaurants

Quite obviously the Gold Coast is home to a growing number of epic eateries that will keep your Instagram feed filled for the rest of time. However, sometimes it’s nice to step outside your comfort zone and taste something slightly further afield.

Upon investigation, it seems there are plenty of epic eateries just outside our pretty city that are guaranteed to knock your socks off (should you be wearing socks due to these slightly chilly temps) now that border restrictions are easing.

Also, how fun are road trips (miss you!). Grab your gang and get out on the open road, your tastebuds will thank you. 

Harvest, Newrybar
Not even where to start to be honest. Harvest is THE GOODS. They weave fresh, local and organic produce into dishes that are the equivalent of Chris Hemsworth in the looks department and as tasty as anything you’ve ever eaten. Anything. Found in a renovated weatherboard cottage and with a deli, bakery and coffee shop on the premises, it’s an absolute must-visit. You need never eat elsewhere again. Where: 18-22 Old Pacific Hwy, Newrybar Village

The Mez Club, Byron Bay
It’s Mediterranean magic at The Mez Club with high ceilings, all of the white walls, wooden furniture and on point rattan seating and light fittings. The vibe is laidback sophistication, the food is share plate style and the cocktails are all the best things in the world. How does a Peach & Thyme Collins sound? Gin, peach liquor, fresh thyme, lemon juice and soda – it sounds like a party in your mouth does it not. GO NOW. Where: 4/85-87 Jonson St, Byron Bay

Federal Doma Café, Federal
It’s Japanese food in the Byron Bay hinterland and it’s some of the best you’ll ever put in your mouth. From hand-rolled salmon cones to the tastiest miso soup there is and Japanese-style burgers, you’d be crazy not to eat one of everything. The produce is fresh, there’s live music on weekends and you can sit outside under the trees, sampling stunning food and contemplating why it is you live in the city when apparently the country is where it’s at. Where: 3-6 Albert St, Federal

Mavis’s Kitchen Restaurant, Uki
Nestled at the base of the Mt Warning is a 25-acre former dairy farm, home to a relaxed country-style restaurant where as much produce as possible is sourced from the organic kitchen garden. The breakfast and a la carte lunch menus are filled with beautiful dishes that taste like your loving Grandma cooked them (if your loving Grandma is Nigella Lawson). If you over-indulge, which you will, you can stay overnight in a pretty little log cabin surrounded by sweet, sweet serenity. Where: 64 Mount Warning Road, Uki 

TOWN Restaurant And Café, Bangalow
It’s the quaint little town known for fresh air, mountain vibes and epic weekend markets but were you aware there is also quite a lot of good food to be taste-tested? Probably since you’re reading this, but let’s power on. TOWN is a modern, one-hatted (for their degustation) restaurant offering next-level contemporary eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cute as a button too (who decided buttons were cute). Where: 33 Byron Street, Bangalow

Spice Den, Casuarina
Oh guys, Spice Den is the business. Just 25 short minutes down the road, it’s an Asian fusion-style establishment serving share-style dishes you definitely won’t want to share though. There’s ridiculous curries, sashimi, whole snappers, scallop shooters – all of the good things. One visit is definitely not enough. Do yourself a favour and order the Grilled Spice Lamb Roti and report back (with samples if you don’t mind). Where: 9 Dianella Drive, Casuarina

Fleet, Brunswick Heads
The tiny Brunswick beauty is perhaps the most stunning venue on the NSW north coast. The ever-changing menu is made up of a series of smaller dishes, each with a focus on a few primary ingredients and each is sleek, refined and packing a flavour punch. Produce is sourced sustainably, as is the wine menu of course and there’s a degustation menu if choosing becomes too much. It’s authentic, local, incredible food that must be tasted to be believed. Where: 16 The Terrace, Brunswick Heads

Words by Kirra Smith

Things to do on the Gold Coast at sunset

The Collective Rooftop (image supplied)
The Collective Rooftop (image supplied)

Sunset has to be the best time of the day (some people we know say sunrise, but we wouldn’t know, ahem) — so sunset it is.

Especially here on the Gold Coast, where the pastel colours of the sky are both incredible and almost always ever-changing as the sun begins to dip.

Perhaps you’ve had a big week at the office, have friends from out of town visiting or maybe it’s just been a while since you last appreciated a decent sunset. With winter fast approaching we thought it was more than appropriate for us to highlight the best places for you to enjoy those autumnal hues.

Kick back at a rooftop bar
This one shouldn’t need an explanation… but wait for it. As a city it took us a little while to catch up with our southern neighbours and have rooftop bars, strange, because we have the best weather in the country hands down, right? These days there are thankfully many on the Gold Coast, so, we say make up for lost time and decide on your favourite, pick the best vantage spot, and kick back with a beverage while the sun slips behind the horizon. Go on, you deserve it after all the waiting.

Aviary Rooftop Bar (image supplied)
Aviary Rooftop Bar (image supplied)

Overlook the Gold Coast at Mt Tamborine
The Gold Coast hinterland is obviously the perfect spot for a bit of sunset spying. With 180-degree views of the ocean and eye-catching cityscape in the foreground, you’ll be in awe of just how beautiful our skyline is. There are lots of vantage spots, but we suggest The Polish Place because not only do they offer the very best views, but they also have a toasty fireplace and comforting, authentic Polish food. Why not make a weekend of it and stay a night or two mixing waterfall fuelled adventures with some sunset action?

Take a picnic at Fingal Beach
Ok, so not technically on the Gold Coast. In our opinions, Fingal is almost always forgotten about, making it completely to your advantage. Grab someone important in your life, pack some goodies and pull up a blanket on some of the most neglected and pristine sand within driving distance of home. Pop open your wine (because you most definitely brought wine) — now, with a completely unhindered view watch our Southern sky do its thing. And relax.

Greenmount Beach Surf Club (image supplied)
Greenmount Beach Surf Club (image supplied)

Sip frosty beers at a surf club
How lucky are we to have surf clubs? SO lucky. Affordable beers and eats, super chilled vibes and, of course, always found by the ocean for absolute bulk sunset-watching opportunities. Grab one of those affordable beers (in jug form, obviously) and pull up a table facing the sea. It’s the most laidback Gold Coast-esque way to enjoy yourself a sunset.

Take a dip anywhere
Yep, so it makes sense that any one of our numerous beautiful beaches, creeks or canals are also the perfect spot to watch the sun go down. Plus, at the moment, the water is an absolute treat so you may as well get yourself submerged while watching the sun disappear. We encourage you to bob around in the waves while the sun sets and marvel at how the sky changes colour. This is living your very best life.

Prep your schedules friends, because another sunset is on its way.

Words by Alex Mitcheson

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