Southern Outback Queensland & Lightning Ridge

ST GEORGE

Balonne River, St George Qld

April 1864 saw the Balonne River crossing area, named at St George, by Sir Thomas Mitchell, the NSW Surveyor-General. The date was close to the date of England’s patron Saint George feast day, hence the towns name. Since those times, St George has grown to a population of around three thousand, with a successful farming community in place, established from drawing on the Balonne River, as opposed to artesian water.

Flood marker

Check the flood markers down by the river.  Its very interesting to see the different river flood heights over the years.  Interesting to note to that, only a year or two after the 2011 flooding, the river was so dry you could walk across.   This was an interesting fact learnt from the local baker, Trent, during a run in his model T Ford.

Our first port of call after check-in at Kamarooka Tourist Park, was to visit Queensland most Western Winery, Riversands.

Riversands Winery

Helpful staff will run you through a tasting if you wish, or, there is a menu should you like to spend some time chilling over a meal and wine. And of course you most likely will want to try the F****ing Good Port, we did and there were a few bottles purchased.

Tasting the port

An early morning run around the township with Trent in his Model T Ford, was a little chilly on the hands, but a great way to get a look around the town, with Trent providing a very informative narrative on the town, amenities and history. Trent certainly is a great ambassador for St George! Add to that, your $5 for the ride is fully donated to the Flying Doctors and I am sure you will be wanting to take the spin around town with Trent.

Highly recommend a trip round town with Trent and his Model T Ford
Sandytown Sunset river cruise

Brett is your host for the informative sunset river cruise. For $35 per head, BYO your own drinks and nibbles whilst relaxing on the 2 hour cruise. As the sun disappears for the day, you are cruising along the river, chosen beverage in hand, listening to Brett as he tells of the areas history.

A couple of the riverside homes visible from the boat cruise

From his position at the front, Brett can pick out the locals who are fishing from their private jetty’s or relaxing on their private properties. Locals returned the happy smiles, cheers and waves they receive from the boat guests, as you cruise past.

Everywhere reflections

The timing of our arrival into St George plus departure, meant we were limited in what we could do. However, there are Cotton farm tours, as well as the Unique Egg store, and a number of other attractions.

Nindigully Pub

A short 30 minutes from St George is the infamous Nindigully pub. Touted as Queensland’s oldest pub, licensed in 1864, plus also being one of the locations for the 1999 Hugh Jackman movie, Paperback Hero.

Nindigully boasts a population of 9, however, this complex is intriguing, with something to see everywhere. No accommodation, you need to bring your own, but the parties this place would have seen over the past 150 odd years, would have been incredible.

Hats of yesteryear line the walls, with notes dotted all over the very high ceiling
And another sign says free beer yesterday- just need to find the right day 😆

Certainly be sure to visit Nindigully. This place is seeped in history, with entertaining staff and generally a great atmosphere. We didn’t have a meal here, but there’s some very famous huge meals to be enjoyed, just make sure you are hungry. There’s even chandeliers!

Nindigully beer garden

Take some time to visit St George, it really is worth the drive to indulge a few days at this beautifully tidy outback town, full of friendly locals willing to share their stories.

First Leg – Brisbane to St George Southern Outback Queensland & Lightning Ridge 12 night trip

Brisbane to St George, via Dalby is an approximately 5.5 hour drive. A good first driving break is at Jondaryan, an easy two hours from Brisbane, with the service station here providing clean bathrooms, food and drinks. There is also the tourist attraction, Jondaryan Woolshed here, but this, unfortunately, is closed for the foreseeable future.

The hustle and bustle of suburban life, swiftly disappears in the rearview mirror, the further you drive along the Warrego Highway. Scenery changes to wide open spaces, with small tufts of snow-white cotton beginning to appear on the roadside, as you approach Dalby. Dalby being a mere 30 minutes from Jondaryan along the wide, easy to drive highway.

Plenty of places to stop in Dalby too, if you would like a break or a look around the quaint township. We chose to stay on night on our return trip, so more about Dalby yet to come.

Turn off to the left to follow the 290km Moonie Highway, with a short 1 hour 15 minutes to the Moonie Crossroads. You’re driving in areas frequented by road trains now, so be sure to give them room whenever the road narrows.

Tufts of white cotton, turn into a splattered sea of white, lining the highway. You could be forgiven for thinking of this as white sand or snow.

Remember too, you are entering the home of many wildlife, who may choose to shoot across the road at any time. The worst times for the Roo’s and foxes is the twilight and sunrise. Emus can appear at any time, and when you see one, there’s a pretty good chance there’s a mob close by. The amount of road kill at the side of the road, is a good indication as to the risks of driving out here. We made a point of limiting our highway driving times to between 8:30/9am to 3pm, during the month of June.

Cotton fields

Moonie is a must stop. With a thriving pub, café, shop, caravan park, accommodation and friendly service, Moonie, hosting a permanent population of less than 200, is a refreshing break on the highway run.

The toilet door makes for entertaining reading.
A realistic looking figure, overlooks the garden bar
Vast plains appear as you drive by

A further two hours to St George from here, the final part of the first leg. Now you really do enter the vast outback areas. Before too long, the scenery changes to become filled with red dirt, long straight roads and scrub. If you’re wondering why there are wide strips graded along the sides of the highway, this is to help give you more wandering of wildlife or cattle who choose to cross the road ahead.

Our chosen place to stay on this occasion, was Kamarooka Tourist Park, hosted by Wade and Brenda. Cabins here were clean and quite adequate for a couple of nights. Every night your hosts, hold a happy hour from 5-7pm around the open fire, with complimentary garlic pizza bread. A good initiative to bring visitors together.

Next story will be about St George itself. A thriving, clean, tidy town, St George was a pleasure to visit.

Views and reflections from the river cruise

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Tangalooma Island Resort

Only a mere 75 minutes by Ferry from Brisbane city, this island resort is exactly that. Here you can be drinking cocktails whilst basking in the glow of a tropical island sunset, feeling like you’re a thousand miles from home. It really is that good.

Sunset over South East Qld

Who would believe that over on the horizon, is the bustling metropolis of Brisbane! Here you really are a world away from the daily grind of life, sinking your toes into the crisp white sand, crystal blue water rolling gently nearby, whilst you stroll the lengthy beaches.

View from the main restaurant balcony

Activities available through the resort, range from free eco information talks on the local wildlife, through to quad bikes, snorkelling, helicopter rides and para sailing. Then of course there is hand feeding of the wild dolphins, a nightly ritual you will have the pleasure of attending once, should your accommodation have this inclusion. If you’re into activities whilst on holiday, there is definitely no reason to be bored here.

MiCat Vehicle Ferry arrives

Moreton Island itself, has the option of bringing your own 4WD if you would like to explore more of the island. There are numerous camping and other accommodation options spread over the island, for those not wanting the resort lifestyle. Keep in mind though, all the extra circular activities available through Tangalooma, are only available to guests of Tangalooma Resort.

The vehicle ferry departs from a different Brisbane wharf, to the Holt Street passenger ferry. Arriving onto the beach near the wrecks, the vehicle ferry drops a ramp for the drivers to exit their vehicles. Resort visitor and other foot passengers can travel on this ferry too, but you need to cart your luggage down to the resort, if that’s where you are staying, as there is no service between the two.

Kookaburras pose against the sunset

Accommodation at the resort, ranges from budget rooms and standard hotel rooms through to apartment style living. There is something to suit all budgets and tastes.

Standard hotel room with ensuite bathroom

The hub of the resort is the reception, bar, restaurant complex. An ideal place to meet for catch ups through the day or chill out at any time. Staff were helpful and willing to answer queries or assist wherever they could. Food quality was overall high, with some delicious options available.

Buffet BBQ (served by staff)

A general store exists too, close to the wharf where you disembark or catch the ferry. Next to this the photo shop and the interesting and informative Eco Centre.

View from the ferry towards Tangalooma Island Resort

Brisbane is lucky to witness some incredible sunrises with glimpses of beautiful sunsets at times too. From the resort, you can witness some amazing sunsets, as look across the bay to Brisbane and Sunshine Coast areas. The view from this direction is truely a wonderful experience.

An oil painting like sunset

Be sure to book your visit in advance, as the resort is a popular place. The option is there for day trips too, but consider taking a bit more time so you can witness everything this stunning location has to offer. Especially if you’re wanting to hand feed the wild dolphins, this is a night time experience only which is included with certain accommodation bookings, ranging from the standard hotel room. This is not an experience which can be purchased on its own.

Even on an overcast day, the view is still beautiful

Might see you there one day!

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Flame Hill Vineyard

Stunning lunch view

Nestled on the mountain, just behind Montville Township, is the superb Flame Hill Vineyard. Stop by for a tasting, enjoy a meal overlooking the vines, watch as the chooks wander around the vineyard. Over in the distance you will see the occasional vehicle, otherwise, you are surrounded by pure country air and rolling green.

On the day we visited, Mr Rooster was busily rounding up those feathered escapees who insisted on wandering further afield, than he felt was allowable. None of the chooks were particularly bothered, ignoring his insistent squawking, whilst they continued to do their own thing.

Chooks and Vines co-exist

Food was deliciously fresh, well presented, with staff pleasant and unobtrusive.

Tasty Charcuterie Board

This venue has all the elements for a relaxing visit. Sit back, drink in the incredible vista rolling as far as the eye can see. Peace, serenity and relaxation envelop you. If you don’t leave here with less stress than when you arrived, perhaps you need to stay longer.

Steak anyone?

Take some time to enjoy what this vineyard has on offer. Perhaps stay locally a night or two. There are many incredible options for a quick break away, in this Sunshine Coast Hinterland area. Highly recommend the nearby Misty View Cottages for a romantic couples retreat.

Wine on vines

Be sure to stop by, it’s an easy day trip from Brisbane, or a wonderful get away destination. Cheers!

Very cool garden feature

Misty View Cottages – Montville

How relaxing

Secluded, luxury couples rainforest accommodation, overlooking moody Lake Baroon, are the perfect setting for a break away from life. Each cottage is named on a theme from the past.

Storm clouds gather

Relax on your balcony, allowing the stresses of life to dissipate around you, whilst you marvel at the pure beauty of nature, in her best attire.

Even from inside the view is breathtaking

Your hosts, Shell and Tony, forward think every little detail to ensure your stay is as comfortable and enjoyable as absolutely possible. Shell is absolutely delightful, we had some lovely insightful conversations during the course of our short stay. We didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Tony on this occasion, perhaps next time.

A quick chat to a friendly resident

There’s a lot to see around the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. So you have to decide, do you simply chill, relax and indulge, or spend some time exploring this beautifully diverse area. Around a fifteen minute walk away , is the impressive Flame Hill Vineyard, complete with cellar door and restaurant. But, I do warn you, there’s a couple of steep driveways in there, so if you have a sober driver, take advantage of that fact! Flame Hill Vineyard will be the next story, so keep an eye out for that.

View from the restaurant at Flame Hill Vineyard

A day of relaxing or exploring, deserves a super treat for the evening. So, if it’s cool enough, (and we were so lucky one evening that it was!), light the fire and enjoy the ambiance that only a flickering flame can give.

Perfection

This magical area and property has so much to offer. Fresh local produce, privacy, space, luxury amenities, the list goes on.

Spa bath with a view
Complimentary Port

There are times in life you need a break and to treat yourself and why would you not do that in this stunning area of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Seriously, just do it!

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Fresh local produce you can cook in your own deluxe accommodation

Day drive – Sunshine Coast Hinterland

The diversity of Southern Queensland , from sea, to mountains and beyond, never ceases to amaze. From Brisbane we are lucky to easily indulge in day trips or weekends away within just a couple of hours drive from our own doorsteps.

Tree lined beauty

Sunshine Coast Hinterland, not only provides beauty and interesting areas to visit, but, the welcoming warmth of the locals is something you will never forget.

Mapleton

We had a short stay in Montville recently, an early Christmas break to beat the expected crowds, flocking to holiday at the end of this pandemic year. A fantastic way, to take a breath and relax before everything becomes full on.

Driving to Kenilworth

Whilst in Montville, we did a short day trip via, Mapleton, Kenilworth and Maleny. This can easily be completed from Brisbane without staying, but, why would you not want to spend more time in this stunning area. More about where we stayed in the next article!

This mirror in Cafe Mapleton says it all

Mapleton is next to Montville, taking under ten minutes to get there. From here you turn left and drive around twenty minutes to reach Kenilworth. However, if you’re looking for a breakfast break first, make sure you stop at Cafe Mapleton. We had such a wonderful time talking to the very interesting owners!

Cafe Mapleton

This pretty little cafe, has such a beautifully laid back vibe. If you’re in a rush, don’t bother to stop, this is a place you come to relax and enjoy. Simple, wholesome meals, created with a smile and a whistle. We loved this cafe!

Just like a home cooked brekky

Kenilworth, is a popular township, some fantastic shops for wiling away time, including the Kenilworth Dairies. Not just cheese and milk products, they stock more than enough to make your own delicious platters, including relishes and crackers. A little cafe is on site too with a few scattered tables and shade umbrellas.

We wandered along the Main Street, lined with colourful, cute shopfronts, popping in here and there to check out the local wares. The Chocolate shop, oh my what a find! With an incredible array of chocolate, sporting an unending array of flavours, shapes and fabulous ideas, it’s very easy to lose track of time as you salivate over the endless purchase possibilities.

Outside the Big Boss Chocolate Shop

Browse the other shops too. A great way to spend a few hours, all the time remembering you are injecting some much needed tourist dollars into a small country areas economy.

So much to look at in this shop!

The local park is conveniently located across the road from the shops and the Dairies. A lovely tree filled green space with children’s play areas and shady seating as well as toilet facilities on site.

Park trees sport Christmas baubles

Once you’re ready to leave this gorgeous area of Queensland, continue on the route to Maleny. Again the cuteness and quaint shops are totally enthralling. Lose yourself here for a few hours, there’s plenty to see. Depending on the day, there’s markets, quaint shops, an IGA which sports the most incredible delicatessen array we have ever seen in a supermarket, seriously go check it out!

Stunning art but I think these should be called diet snack bowls 😂 Would you put your hand in?

Be sure to visit the bakery and the genuine butcher. Everywhere we went we were told brief or long stories. Peoples life’s are so interesting. I love that every person has a story. And until you talk to them you never get know even a little piece of their story.

One of the many pretty little spots in Maleny

Tear yourself away from this gorgeous area to head home, or visit the Maleny dairy, and other shops on your way back to your accommodation. But, even if you’re heading home, turn left to head to Montville just to the visit the totally amazing secondhand/record shop, just past Maleny Dairy.

Lost Frock & Treasure Shop.

We were stopped here for a long time, so much to see plus add that to a beautiful chatty owner who shared some of her interesting life story with us. What a most amazing experience!

We didn’t even scratch the surface in what to do on this day trip. I swear you could do this every weekend for a year and still not know this area inside out. Next week, I will share the incredibly special venue we stayed it. Trust me you will love it ! Remember to follow Dine Live Travel on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat for more photos!

Maleny markets
Lost frock & Treasure shop

Tin Can Bay – Cooloola Coast Qld

Tin Can Bay is well known for the Wild Dolphin feeding each day of the year. Spread out over an elongated area towards Norman Point, Tin Can Bay provides residents and holiday makers alike with a laid back relaxed atmosphere.

Gorgeous Sunrises

Accommodation is plentiful and even if the Bay is full of visitors, it’s hard to notice, as there’s plenty of space for all. Dolphin Waters Motel is directly across the road from the channel running between Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach. Stroll across in the morning to watch the sunrise, or walk along the promenade pathway which heads in both directions.

As the tide rolls out you can easily wander across the sand, most of which is a harder surface than it looks. We watched one person wading into the sea for what seemed like forever, never going past waist height, while casting their fishing line.

Start your day with a stroll to the wild dolphin feeding at Barnacles Cafe, located at end of Norman Point. From around 7am, dolphins usually arrive to entertain the onlookers and receive some fish in return.

Volunteers give you a very informative run down on the dolphins and their habitat. Well worth listening to. Around 7:30, those who have paid their entry and fish feeding fee, a mere $10 in total per person, now have the pleasure of personally feeding a fish to one of the dolphins.

When you’re happy and you know it….

There’s some awesome dolphin personalities on hand, just depending on who decides to come in that day. Remember these guys are wild, not tame and even though they know free fish are on hand, some might have better things happening on any particular day and not visit Barnacles. Be sure to follow volunteers instructions, we don’t want to have this opportunity ruined at all.

Junior has a little attitude and will try to steal the Dolphins fish

Tin Can Bay has a taxi, but there are a couple of courtesy buses, for instance the Country Club and the Bowls Club. Ring through, make a booking and they will give you a time and stop by to pick you up. Plenty of opportunity to use a courtesy bus to go home too. Great way for everyone to relax.

There’s something for everyone here, a fantastic fresh seafood co-op. The incredibly popular Snack Shop, down on the Marina you have the Marina Bar & Grill plus a short walk to the Sleepy Lagoon Hotel, Temptations, Mudcrab, just to name a few! So many fabulous food & venue choices. Enjoy!

One of Silky Oaks residents

There’s a few stops on the road in and out of Tin Can Bay, but, we highly suggest stopping at Silky Oak Tearooms. We think this the best Aussie authentic pub ever! With Daryl & Helen at the helm it’s quite iconic. If you think yours is better, challenge accepted!

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Whale One – Mooloolaba

Late in August, we enjoyed a whale watching cruise out of Mooloolaba. Whale One leaves from the Wharf complex at Mooloolaba and heads out to sea to look for whales.

As you can see from the background, we didn’t have to go far to come across our first whale encounter. This was closely followed our second whale who was ready to play and show off.

Breaching, clapping, tail slapping and just generally showing off, the second whale put on a quite a performance before they slid quietly under the surface to do whatever whales do.

Have you noticed how close to the beach we are? Not far is it. For those who worry about sea sickness, just take that calming tablet before you leave and there’s a pretty good chance you won’t even notice, particularly if you meet some entertaining whales!

Humpbacks are a species of baleen whale. These adults can weight 25-30 tons, with a length of 12-16 metres. Their distinctive knobbly head, long pectoral fins and body shape, along with their love of breaching, playing on the surface, make them very popular with whale watchers.

Capturing these majestic creatures on camera is not easy. You’re never sure where they will surface or what their next move will be. And it happens quickly, very fast. No time to set up here, so be ready for some quick shots.

It’s quite an experience to be an experience to be aboard a whale watching boat. Especially when the excited chatter turns to hush, as expectant faces hold cameras and phones on the hope of capturing the magic of the day.

These guys are wild creatures, doing their thing. You cannot guarantee they will be around or, if they are, that they will take the time to play for your amusement. Try not to be disappointed if you don’t see any on your trip, you will have a credit towards another trip, which hopefully will be one of the most heartwarming experiences of your life.

Create beautiful memories, by taking a trip. Highly recommend Whale One, the crew were great and the amenities on board include snacks and a bar. There was plenty of room for all to move around too. Just remember to share the space and change location onboard, so others can have a look from a different area. Enjoy the ride!

Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba

Around 1.5 hours of cruising around 3 of Mooloolaba canals, is included in your ticket price. Choose all sorts of upgrades for food and beverage packages, then sit back,relax and enjoy.

Fresh Seafood platter for two

The couple of crew on board the vessel, will go out of their way to make sure the cruise experience is tailored to the individuals. Always helpful and willing to do what they can, so yiu can relax and enjoy. Plenty of interesting information on the history of Mooloolaba canals is given throughout the course of your cruise. You will be surprised when you learn the real history, I’m not giving it away, book a cruise to find out!

The sunset cruise

Our first cruise was the wonderful Sunday evening sunset cruise. Delightful changing hues of colour tinged the surroundings as we cruised gently down the canal.

Sunset slowly makes its way across the canals

Your own group is seated together, no matter if just a couple or a few of you. There’s plenty of room to move around the boat too, once you are underway. Sliding windows next to the bench seats, provide the opportunity for photos without even leaving your seat.

The infamous Croc One

Around halfway through your cruise, a quick stop is made to collect your delicious seafood meal choices. Dine on mouthwatering food, washed down with a bevie or two from the onboard bar, and you have own moving restaurant.

Sunset

Highly recommend cruising with this company. Aaron who was driving the boat, giving commentary and making you feel at ease, was on both the sunset cruise and the day cruise we went on. That second cruise was so we could enjoy another one of those fresh seafood platters and a laugh with the ever helpful crew. Well worth it.

Aaron describes another area of the canals.

Your view from the water is always different from the shore, certainly consider taking a cruise and hearing the fascinating history of this area. The wooden ferry you cruise on, M.V. Mudjimba, is the only genuine historic timber ferry in Mooloolaba.

Safety onboard M.V. Mudjimba

Enjoy, we might even see you there as we will definitely cruise on this great little vessel again!

Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast

Brisbane is lucky to have easy access to both Gold and Sunshine Coasts. We recently spent a week in Mooloolaba, which was a totally awesome week away.

Sunrise from the beach is captivating

Accommodation and food choices here are many and varied with something to suit all tastes and budgets. As an Accor Plus member, our choice of apartment for this trip was Mantra Sirocco. Mantras are an absolute coup for Accor who were lacking in apartment style holiday accommodation, but not now.

View from our private rooftop at Mantra Sirocco

Exit the Mantra lift on level 1, which puts you in the midst of a mini retail hub, including news agency, beauty and clothing/accessories. Through the door to the Esplanade and you have an array of restaurants cafe and retail shops at your disposal. The variety of menus on offer is incredibly diverse.

Sunset Dining on the Mooloolaba Esplanade opposite the beach

If you’re a seafood buff, be sure to order seafood whilst in Mooloolaba. With the wharf precinct at the end of the Esplanade, sitting alongside canals which house multitudes of fishing trawlers, you can be assured the seafood here is usually coming fresh from the boat. And it is delicious.

One of our simply delightful seafood meals, Risotto Marina at Bella Venezia

The Esplanade bars and restaurants we visited were many, from Bayrische Beach Bar and Cafe at the base of the Mantra Sirocco, through to the Surf Club, O’Malley’s Irish Bar, Elevate, Quarterdeck, Bella Venezia, and numerous cafes in between. Oh and ice cream parlours, Mooloolaba has it all! Remember all of these venues are within a short 5 or so minute walk from the Mantra Sirocco.

Gourmet pancakes, Mooloolaba Esplanade style

Whilst sitting in the wonderfully warm atmosphere of O’Malley’s Irish Bar, this eagle eye spotted a wonderfully enticing venue, Naked Day Spa & Cocktail lounge. Blinged to the max, with incredibly warm-hearted, engaging staff, this little day spa became a favourite. Both hubby and I decided to indulge, in some treatments, and yes, cocktails!

Just a small selection at Naked Day Spa & Cocktail lounge
Enjoy whilst the staff wipe away the stresses of life.

Mooloolaba, a fantastic hub on the Sunshine Coast, perched right on the beach front, surrounded by an amazingly diverse area of hinterland, costal towns and activities. Too much to tell you about here, but there will be separate blogs for our short cruises, from the Wharf.

Burning sunrise from Mooloolaba Beach

We were lucky, wake up walk across the road and from right there the most mind blowing sunrises occurred, every morning.

A little lens ball play

Visit the Sunshine Coast, it’s an area waiting to embrace you! More photos from Dine Live Travel on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. All photos are copyright, with prints available for sale.