Do you like road trips without a lot of prior planning. We packed the car, travelling to somewhere, where we were filled with astonishment at the unforeseen discoveries along the way. Our Road Trip objective, to expect the unexpected. In this Blog I’ll spill the beans and reveal all the details of this amazing Country Road Trip.
We travelled for two days with an overnight stay to tour our “Somewhere”. On deciding where to go, it was like pinning the tail on the donkey game, we spread out the map of South-East Queensland, stuck in the pin and found our “Somewhere”. Our first stop, Kalbar a rural country town situated in the fertile Fassifern Valley which is located in the Scenic Rim of South-East Queensland. 2022, The Scenic Rim was named one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 regions to visit, so named for its spectacular landscapes, lush valleys, wide open roads, fresh local produce, and eco-adventures. Coffee time, first stop Kalbar has a top café/bakery with all manner of goodies. Next The Kalbar Sunflower Festival. Don’t worry, we’ll return to Kalbar later in the day. This country town has some hidden secrets with its own Aladdin’s Cave of hidden treasures.
Moving on through the Scenic Rim, look what we uncovered – The Kalbar Sunflower Festival 🌻🌻🌻. Pack your camera, slip on a hat and sunscreen, the sunflowers are in bloom every year in South-East Queensland from January until March. What a truly stunning sight they are.
Kalbar Sunflowers (situated a few kilometres outside Kalbar) has planted over 1 million flowers for this year’s Sunflower Festival. Thousands of people converged on the Festival site to treasure the sights and aromas of 24 acres of splendid sunflower fields. With so many opportunities for photo snaps, I guarantee that you’ll come home with that once in a lifetime camera shot.
This is not just a flower show, this is a Country Festival. Parking is in the paddocks beside the Sunflowers. Entry is through the Gazebo past the hay bales. You’ll find face painting in the kids’ zone, markets and food stalls, local tourist attractions information, some with discount coupons already for your next visit. Where else can you cut your own flower stems ($1per stem), bring your scissors, grab a bunch, you can pay for them on the way out.
Of course, the main place to visit is the large sunflower fields; you can’t miss them. This is also the setting for the long lunch (pre-booking required). The maze will take you through a beautiful sea of colours, down narrow corridors of flowering blooms, then to the helicopter landing pad where you can fly high in the sky getting the best view in the house.
🔥Tip: This event was held in March 2023, entry being by a pre-purchased ticket. So popular was the Festival, the available ticket allocation was exhausted in a matter of hours after being released on-line. I have read it will be back in 2024. I would advise that if you are intending to go, start checking the Farm Web Page in December 2023 for any updates. Click on the link for information: Kalbar Sunflower Festival
🔥Tip: Sunflowers only bloom around December to March and when a field starts to flower it will only be in bloom for 3-4 weeks. The timing of the blooming is very dependent on the weather, too much rain can lead to no planting. No planting, no sunflowers. Check with the Local Visitor Centres for updates and maps, they are very helpful in giving you a heads-up on where and when the action is happening or not. Warwick Visitor Information Centre. Boonah Visitor Information Centre
🌻Golden Treasure Hunt: Under normal circumstances the region’s sunflowers can be viewed from the roadside for free on any number of other farms in the area. These are not festival places but working farms with row after row of paddocks filled with bright golden flowers. The Sunflower Route also known as Tourist Route 11 is a round trip from Warwick travelling through some of the most fertile farming land on the Darling Downs passing Glengallan, Allora and Massie. Many of the side roads can be home to fields of Sunflowers. It’s just a matter of finding the ones that are in bloom. 🔥Tip: Check with the local visitor centre for locations. 🔥Tip: These are private property and working farms. Please respect the farmers and stay on the edge of the fields, you’ll still get that legendry shot from here.
We’re back for a pitstop in Kalbar. What a wonderful place this is for a stopover. Kalbar is not a big town, it has one main street with a butcher shop, chemist, mini supermarket, kid’s playground, toilets, and a pub. This is a fantastic location for a stretch of the legs and a foodie stop over. Visit the country butcher and top up your supplies if travelling long term, fresh sausages and steak could be on the menu for a late BBQ lunch or dinner at the dam.
With the car parked, we’ve headed to the Lovett at Kalbar café and bakery for a coffee and something to eat. The choice is yours, an all-day breakfast menu or some yummy treats from the bakery.
We opted to eat in, although many headed to the park with undercover seating and children’s playground next door. You’ll find clean public toilets here as well.
Across the road stands the Wiss Bros Emporium. Over 100 years old the modern-day Emporium has been fashioned with the feel of an old-style country general store. We spent hours browsing through the new and the old with some really unique handcrafted pieces.
Some of our group also bought coffees here and made their way out the back to an undercover area, soaking up the ambience of this boutique country store. Here, totally unexpected we literally stumbled upon the Terina Smith Recycling Artist Gallery. Her gallery pieces have an emphasis on re-imagined, re-designed and re-create, made from just about anything that would usually be discarded or end up in landfill. There’re not many places where you can actually talk to the artist, today Terina was in residence. Coffee in hand we sat for ages and listened, totally engrossed with the Terina Smith story and her exceptional pieces of re-cycled art.
Wiss Cottage, c1890, is situated next to the Emporium. The cottage is an accommodation option available for overnight stays. 🔥Tip: On the day of our visit, The Emporium was only open Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Check their web site to confirm opening and closing times. 🔥Tip: Wiss cottage can be booked through the web site.
We’ve found our way to stunning Lake Moogerah and the equally sensational Moogerah Dam. Here we’ll take a break and swap Driving for Activities. Lake Moogerah is a very popular spot for picnics, motorboats, skiing, canoeing, walking trails and fishing.
Our travels have brought us to Haigh Park high on the hill overlooking Lake Moogerah. If you love a BBQ or picnic with a view, then you’ve hit the jackpot for choosing this spot for an afternoon stopover. Snap up one of the undercover picnic tables near the gas BBQ’s, this is such a perfect area with magnificent views across the lake towards Mt Greville and the Main Range National Park.
The kids can go crazy with plenty of room to run around and a great little playground area to play in. Toilets are nearby and you can bring your furry friend as long as they are kept on a leash.
The highlight of any visit to Lake Moogerah has to be a walk along the top of the dam wall. From here, you get a sense of just how big this water paradise is. The views are stunning in any direction, especially if their is a release of water coinciding with your walk. A look over the side of the wall revealed a lower dam wall picnic area bordering the creek. People fishing, canoeing and enjoying themselves in what is a quiet captivating section of the Dam precinct.
The Dam Wall is also the starting point of a number of walks through the adjacent hills and forests. The Mt Edwards Summit Trail is approximately 3km and is a steep, testing hike. We didn’t attempt this walk today but I am told it can take 2-3 hours to complete.
Moogerah Dam is an excellent place to take a break for a few hours, do some exploring and then continue your road trip. There are plenty of accommodation options available for longer stays. You can choose from holiday rentals and homes around the lake and their is caravan park located on the lake’s southern shores.
It’s late in the afternoon on Day 1 of our road trip, the GPS sends us in the direction of Warwick, our overnight accommodation. Exhausted from our days touring, finally we arrive at the motel, check in and prepare for Day 2 of our country road trip. MORE TO COME, TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!