Ok, I give you that the title might be a bit hyperbolic but I think you can safely assume we were pretty impressed with Alure boutique resort in Stanthorpe. We like camping and we like 5 star luxury and to be fair we’re not so keen on the bit inbetween. As a combination of the two, Alure could have been made for us. However, we were a little apprehensive as we’ve tried so called glamping before and been disappointed by damp tents with mediocre facilities. We needn’t have worried, Alure was everything we could have asked for and more.
This post is about wine-tasting in the Granite Belt region of Queensland. I’m not sure what you were expecting but suggest you might need to go and wash your mind out with soap.
We arrived in Stanthorpe having driven from Toowoomba. We stopped on the way at Queen Mary Falls which is about 30km outside of Warwick and well worth a stop. There’s a nice café which is part of a caravan park and an adjacent free to use BBQ area. We shared a sandwich and chips – great value and watched the parrots being fed by children. They were really tame and would land on your hand for food. Unusually, it appeared that when people weren’t there to entertain the parrots, they occupied themselves by knitting jumpers for the trees.
For those of you looking for something a little bit racy, you’re going to have to read to the end of the post. Anticipation is half the fun after all.
Following an impressive breakfast on the veranda outside our room at Vacy Hall, our second day in Toowoomba was spent mostly nosing around other people’s back yards, as you do. Fortunately, it was entirely above board, and part of the Carnival of Flowers. A number of private gardens are opened as exhibition gardens during the length of the festival and you can pay a nominal fee to have a look round. There’s a number of ways to do this including a hop on hop off bus but we chose to drive around ourselves. The gardens were beautiful but did make us feel a bit inferior given the current state of our lawn. Nonetheless it was really interesting to see how amateur gardeners planned their spaces and put a lot of love and effort into creating a beautiful display for them to enjoy all year round and for visitors to enjoy during the Festival.
You may recall that during the title sequence for the 1970s BBC comedy Fawlty Towers, the sign at the end of the guest house drive was mis-spelt in every episode. My favourite anagram was ‘Flowery Twats’, and visiting Toowomba’s carnival of flowers whilst staying in a guest house gives me a perfect excuse to use it as a title to this post. Not that you need an excuse to use a golden phrase like flowery twats. Indeed, I shall resolve to use it more often in the future. To be fair though, Vacy Hall Historic Guest House couldn’t be further from Fawlty Towers, and Graham, the owner, didn’t strike us as a Basil Fawlty. Indeed, he was most hospitable and also very generous with his advice on granite belt wineries that were next on our itinerary after Toowoomba.
We were off to Fortitude Valley, or just ‘The Valley’. Hence the reference above to the 1979 punk classic from The Skids. Go on have a listen, you know you want to. For fans of Moulin Rouge, The Valley has a reputation similar to that of Montmartre in Paris, a town within the city where the creatures of the night come out to play. In reality it’s cleaned up its act a lot in recent years and a visible police presence means its very safe. It is still, however, one of the main nightlife areas of Brisbane and we were here to see a gig.
Most people don’t realize that the Bundaberg region is Australia’s most valuable vegetable growing region. You can’t miss the sugar cane fields as you drive through the region, but the yearly value of $200 million for that crop is dwarfed by the $500 million generated by the combined small crops. The rich volcanic soil and perfect climate contribute to the region being a big producer of fruit and vegetables including; tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum and macadamia nuts. The region produces around 90% of Australia’s sweet potatoes and even has the nation’s biggest chilli producer. The crops grown and packed here are found in supermarkets across the country. The coastal location also means there’s great seafood to be had all year round.