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Muster up your city-slicker mates for a merry day out

Ballandean Estate Lunch on The Merry Muster 2020 (image supplied)
Ballandean Estate Lunch on The Merry Muster 2020 (image supplied)

Is it us, or has this year slipped by at an alarming rate? Now, we don’t mean to alarm anyone here, but you do realise Christmas is less than three months away, right? (Cue heart palpitations).

Getting everyone covered with unique and special gifts can, at times, be an entirely taxing affair. You want your presents to be a little unique and out of the ordinary, memorable, and ultimately show that your Christmas game is strong when it comes down to it.

So, how does a fully-fledged, one day only, Christmas shopping bus tour trip out to some of Southeast Queensland’s best rural producers sound to you? A little too good to be true (and too much fun!). Well, think again.

After the success of previous years, The Merry Muster is back for 2021 and is combining a beautiful day trip out to the country with the chance to get your hands on one-off artisanal produce, wines, gifts — you name it!

The Merry Muster Bus Charter (image supplied)
The Merry Muster Bus Charter (image supplied)

The concept is simple: city-slickers from the Gold Coast and Brisbane will board a convoy of Merry Muster buses on Saturday 4th December before setting off to the vista-filled wonders of the Scenic Rim and Granite Belt.

Not only will you have a fabulous day of shopping, but guests will also be spreading festive cheer and much-needed dollars to market stallholders and producers from regional Queensland areas. The ones who have been hit hard in recent years through drought, flood, bushfires and now COVID-19.

Basically, Queenslanders looking after Queenslanders!

Stanthorpe shoppers on The Merry Muster 2020 (image supplied)
Stanthorpe shoppers on The Merry Muster 2020 (image supplied)

The first stop on the itinerary will be Summer Land Camels in the picturesque Scenic Rim. This charming (and cheeky) camel farm will host a vast Christmas market filled to the brim with makers, bakers, creators, and growers from all around the surrounding locale.

You can enjoy a decadent morning tea, get a selfie with a camel before you take time to explore the onsite shop full of goodies.

Grab lunch from one of the many onsite foodie vendors before the tour continues to the Granite Belt Christmas Farm in Applethorpe; where an outstanding boutique market — organised by event partner, Buy From The Bush QLD — featuring some of the many bush businesses proudly awaits!

Recharge with a delicious afternoon tea complete with a glass of bubbles, then shop till you drop, explore the farm’s substantial onsite Christmas store, hand-feed some of Santa’s animals or explore the Christmas tree forest before heading home.

Warwick shoppers, at The Merry Muster (image supplied)
Warwick shoppers, at The Merry Muster (image supplied)

Tickets are a snip at $100pp, which includes your full-day itinerary, gourmet local produce morning tea, your very own Merry Muster shopping tote bag, delicious afternoon tea (including a glass of bubbles), wine tasting, a donation to two chosen charities on the day and transport to and from the locations on a luxury air-conditioned coach. Your day is all wrapped up!

Plus, all attendees will go into the draw to win some seriously fabulous lucky guest prizes supplied by this year’s generous sponsors, Spicers Retreats and Lolita’s Pearls. — Ooh la la!

Departure and return on the coaches will be from Ashmore, with tickets now on sale and strictly limited to 500 seats. Head to their website to learn more or to book yourself in before all available spaces disappear!

When: Saturday 4th December 2021.

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Ballandean Estate Lunch on The Merry Muster 2020 (image supplied)
Ballandean Estate Lunch on The Merry Muster 2020 (image supplied)

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.

Picnic Real Food Bar features tastes of the Scenic Rim

Picnic Real Food Bar located in North Stores - Mount Tamborine (Image by Christine Sharp)
Picnic Real Food Bar located in North Stores, Mount Tamborine (Image by Christine Sharp)

This south-east pocket of Queensland we get to call home is quite a special place. The endless sub-tropical Pacific Ocean and sublime beaches on one side and backed by lush, ancient rainforest on the other — what a place to live!

And the Scenic Rim is very much part of that makeup too. Set at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, this region holds host to incredible food and produce, the likes we sometimes don’t get to see here on the Gold Coast.

Well, if you head to Picnic Real Food Bar in Mount Tamborine, you’ll experience nothing but the best ingredients the region has to offer.

How so, you might ask? Owner Brenda Fawdon is an avid expert of all things culinary in the area. A hospitality veteran of 30 years, after moving to Tamborine a decade ago she took it upon herself to research and then write not one, but two cookbooks highlighting incredible Scenic Rim producers. So you could say what Brenda doesn’t know about great food from the local area isn’t worth knowing!

Picnic Real Food Bar is set along the green and tree-lined Main Street in North Tamborine and is part of a recently revealed new building development called the North Stores. The space is an open-air uber-modern, yet rustic approach to any café we have seen. Whoever you take here is absolutely going to love it!

Chocolate Salted Rye Biscuits, Picnic Real Food Bar (Image by Christine Sharp)

Bring your hunger ‘A’ game with you, as the assortment of baked treats — both savoury and sweet — are dazzling here. There are Chocolate Salted Rye Biscuits, gluten-free Italian Almond Slices and a rather scrumptious looking ‘breakfast’ Carrot Cake. Cake for breakfast? If you say so! Not to mention all of this is made on-site by a dedicated baker.

A selection of Toasted Ciabattas with ingredients such as prosciutto, artichoke, mozzarella and tomato jam are available — or you might prefer a Charred Zucchini and Black Bean Salad? Either way, everything is fresh and delicious.

Drinks come in the form of house-pressed juices, Buchi kombucha from Byron Bay on tap, milkshakes and Reuben Hills Coffee from Surrey Hills in Sydney. This boutique micro roastery only produces a set number of beans per week, meaning great consistent coffee every time you take a sip.

Being licensed, the café has a small but carefully considered selection of natural wines, Witches Falls Cider on Tap, as well as everyone’s favourite Balter XPA. If you’ve decided to do a morning hike on one of the many nearby trails then you surely deserve a lunch beverage, no?

Vegan Couscous Salad with swiss brown mushrooms, roasted sweet potato, red onion, pickle and rocket with miso dressing, Picnic Real Food Bar (Image by Christine Sharp)
Vegan Couscous Salad with swiss brown mushrooms, roasted sweet potato, red onion, pickle and rocket with miso dressing, Picnic Real Food Bar (Image by Christine Sharp)

With plans in the future to start creating specialised lunch boxes for you to take away, Picnic Real Food Bar will allow you to take their gorgeous food and drinks off with you to find your own slice of the hinterland. All you’ll need to do is BYO blanket, and then sit back and soak it all in.

Cancel your weekend plans. We think you should take a sneaky trip up to Mount Tamborine.

Where: 46 Main Street, North Tamborine
When: Wednesday – Sunday 7am-3pm

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk

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