This article originally appeared on Queensland.com.
Granite-strewn National Parks, street art-adorned laneways, magical waterfalls and even a zoo — Southern Queensland Country has serious family-holiday creds and we haven’t even mentioned the 5-star wineries and glamping that keep the parents extremely content as well!
It doesn’t matter if you have a 12-month-old or 12-year-old, we’ve pulled together our top tips to make your next SQC escape perfect for the whole team. These are the best things to do with the kids in Southern Queensland Country.
1. HIKE THE GRANITE ARCH CIRCUIT AT GIRRAWEEN NATIONAL PARK
“How’d that rock end up there?” is a very good question you’ll answer more than once on a trip to Girraween National Park in the aptly named Granite Belt region. The Granite Arch is a fairly short and easy walk that’s perfect for all ages that has plenty of fascinating natural rock formations. With stone archways and secret caves, your kids will feel like explorers on a new planet in no time.
2. FOLLOW TOOWOOMBA’S STREET ART TRAIL
Think kids and art galleries are a no-go? Well, you won’t ever have to worry about them being too loud or *ahem* active here in Toowoomba, home to one of the largest outdoor galleries in the country.
Thanks to the annual First Coat Festival which started in 2014, there are now over 55 colourful murals splashed about the city’s alleys, streets, and laneways, where your kids can run wild in their search for the biggest and most colourful artworks.
3. VISIT QUEEN MARY FALLS
For even more exercise, head to Queen Mary Falls outside Killarney. An easy 20-minute stroll takes you to the lookout point showing Spring Creek plunging 40 metres to a pool below. And don’t worry, the clearly marked trail is easy enough for even a toddler to navigate.
Continue along the track to reach the rainforest at the bottom for a total walk of two hours. A BBQ area set amongst the eucalypt forest offers the ideal resting spot after your walk.
4. PICNIC AT PICNIC POINT
Picnic Point by name, perfect picnic point by nature! With beautiful views over the range and an (almost) equally exciting playground, this park near Toowoomba suits families of all ages and sizes.
Pack a basket full of goodies or head to the café for a meal before walking it off on the trails around the park. Bonus points if you can find the hidden garden at the base of the waterfall.
5. BE PART OF A FUNCTIONING FARM
Sing Old MacDonald to your kids at a farm stay in Southern Queensland Country with farm animals of all shapes and sizes on show. There are dozens to choose from with a wide variety of activities including live shearing demonstrations, horseback riding, picking freshly laid eggs and of course getting up close and personal with the animals.
6. 4×4 CONDAMINE GORGE
With 14 river crossings scattered across the Condamine River track, prepare to get muddy and bouncy in your 4WD. This is a great track for any novice 4WD’er with an abundance of wildlife and stunning backdrops for your passengers to enjoy.
Don’t forget to pack your swimmers as there are plenty of waterholes dotted along the way to cool off in! But even if you don’t get out, the kids will be cheering as you splash your way through this hinterland adventure.
7. TEMPT YOUR SWEET TOOTH AT THE CHOCOLATE COTTAGE CAFÉ
Just a short drive north of Toowoomba is Highfields, a quaint country town with many attractions but none as enticing as the Chocolate Cottage Cafe. Acting as a haven from the outside world, the café is a perfect spot for morning tea.
It sits on beautiful grassy acreage overlooking unsurpassed views of the Toowoomba Range. While the kids play tag on the grass, indulge in handmade chocolates, sumptuous desserts and revitalising coffee.
8. GO FISHING ON THE BANKS OF THE CONDAMINE RIVER
Catch your own dinner on the Condamine River with carp, cod and golden perch aplenty! Bait can be picked up from the Warwick Tackle and Tusk shop in town. Other favourite fishing spots are at Leslie or Connolly Dam.
9. DRIVE YOUR KIDS LOOPY ON THE GIRRAWEEN LOOP DRIVE
Journey from Stanthorpe to Applethorpe and back again on the Girraween Loop that takes you through the highlights of this area. Begin with the Granite Belt’s Wine Country, and while the kids won’t be able to get involved in the wine tasting, they’ll love running through the vineyards and making friends with the wine dogs of the region.
Next up is the Fruit Run with orchards overflowing with delicious stone fruit, apples and berries. Go fruit picking or forgo the hard work with a jar of jam. Nothing beats an afternoon of storytelling so listen to the tales of local bushrangers before heading south into the National Parks where wildlife and waterholes will create a relaxing afternoon.
Keep an eye out for the common (yet elusive) wombat as Girraween National Park is home to the most northern population of these furry-nosed cuties.
10. VISIT THE COBB+CO MUSEUM IN TOOWOOMBA
Is it hard to drag your kid along to a ‘boring’ museum? Shake up that tired idea by getting their hands on history at Cobb+Co Museum with its endless interactive elements.
From blacksmithing to silversmithing to lead lighting and millinery, let your creativity shine and whip up items that the kids will be excited to bring to Show and Tell at school! With workshops designed for all kids from toddlers to teenagers, you can keep the whole family entertained here.
11. GIDDY UP FOR SOME COWBOY UP HORSE RIDING
Explore the Toowoomba area the cowboy way with a relaxing horseback ride through a working cattle property. From your comfortable saddle, give a friendly ‘neigh’ to the wallabies, wild deer and native birdlife surrounding you.
There’s a variety of rides to choose from to suit your ability but all include magnificent views. Say howdy to a country ride!
12. GO WILD AT THE DARLING DOWNS ZOO
A visit to the Darling Downs Zoo is almost like a visit to Pride Rock as it’s home to the only pride of African Lions in Queensland. Throw in some baboons, the largest herd of zebras and some monkeys and you’re there! You’ll be singing Hakuna Matata as you meet the gorgeous Sumatran tigers and run rings around the giant tortoises.
Not only is this zoo filled with beautiful animals but it’s also extremely interactive with lion feeding, python posing, and a snake and reptile show that will send shivers down your spine.
13. CHECK OUT THE AUSTRALIAN RODEO HERITAGE CENTRE IN WARWICK
Revel in the spirit of the cowboy at the only place in Australia that celebrates rodeo history and its greatest champions. Learn your wrestler from your hazer and try your luck at roping ‘Sparky’ the mechanical steer.
You’ll leave with a greater understanding of the past, present and future of rodeo in Australia and will be yee-ha’ing the whole way home.
14. CHOO-CHOO TO SOUTHERN DOWNS STEAM RAILWAY MUSEUM IN WARWICK
Train buffs, prepare yourselves for a museum full of railway memorabilia on the site of Warwick’s Locomotive Depot at the Southern Downs Steam Railway. With steam train tours to surrounding towns that take you up and down hillsides and around historical sites, this is so much more than your usual commute.
15. EAT SOME APPLE PIE AT SUTTON’S FARM IN STANTHORPE
If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that apple pie makes everything better. With crispy, golden pastry and warm apple and cinnamon filling, Sutton Farm’s speciality dessert is a cut above the rest.
Include the apple cider ice-cream and this is a must-have treat for anyone passing through Stanthorpe! The deliciousness doesn’t stop there with a unique range of gourmet apple juices and ciders available for sale.
16. EXPLORE THE BUNYA MOUNTAINS
For a wilderness walk like no other, visit the majestic Bunya Mountains. With cool, lush rainforest and the world’s largest grouping of Bunya Pines, you will easily get lost in the greenery and marvel at the height of these forest giants.
This walk doesn’t just attract human families, though! Keep an eye out for wallabies and colourful native birds.
If you’re dropping by on the last Sunday of the month, check out the Bunya Mountain Markets to buy cakes and local Bunya nuts to keep everyone fed throughout the walk.
17. VISIT TOOWOOMBA DURING THE CARNIVAL OF FLOWERS IN SEPTEMBER
Stop and smell the roses at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. Happening in mid-September every year, it’s all things spring with a floral parade, delicious food and wine, concerts and Kids Day Out.
Shows devoted to bonsai trees, spring orchids, roses and bromeliads will inspire green thumbs in everyone.
18. RUG UP FOR THE JUMPERS AND JAZZ IN JULY FESTIVAL IN WARWICK
Whilst Queensland is famous for its endless sunny skies and warm days, we do like to celebrate winter! And there’s no better place for it than Warwick’s Jumpers and Jazz in July festival. Going down smack bang in the middle of winter, you’ll want to don your favourite knit jumper and join in on the celebrations.
With amazing outdoor art, live jazz performances and a myriad of exciting events, the whole region will be bursting at their (knitted) seams!
19. VISIT THE BIG APPLE IN STANTHORPE
The photo ops are endless – your tiny kids can either be eating the giant apple or, if they’re picky about their fruit, squishing it between their fingers.
20. CAMP UNDER THE STARS
There are endless camping and caravanning spots in Southern Queensland Country, where you can sit back and take in your natural surroundings with nature walks or simply lie back and absorb the night time beauty above. Don’t forget the s’mores!
21. FOSSICK FOR GOLD AT THANES CREEK
If you’re raising little entrepreneurs who want to strike it rich, be sure to take them fossicking for gold at Thanes Creek near Warwick (secure your licence at the Warwick Visitor Info Centre). If they actually get their hands on a gold nugget, they’ll be set for life!
22. GO ‘NUTS’ IN KINGAROY
Visit the Kingaroy Heritage Museum and learn why peanuts are so important to this region of Queensland – then visit the Peanut Van and try one of their 15 different varieties of peanuts including Mexican, chicken and wasabi!
23. COOMBA FALLS
While everyone loves a beach holiday, there are also plenty of great swimming spots in the country.
One of them is Coomba Falls, a deep natural swimming hole that’s perfect for a midday dip. Yeeees, the water is icy cold almost all year round, which is a welcome reprieve on a hot summer day, but even during the cooler months, the refreshing temps can make a game of family touch footy even more fun!