11 winter road trips that call for a snuggly jumper

It’s a novelty when the weather dips below 20 degrees in Brisbane. Days like this cause locals to whip out the winter wool and find a roaring fire to sit by with hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Rather than go somewhere warm, we like to make the most of Brisbane’s short and sharp "winter" by finding somewhere even colder. Pack your biggest, snuggliest jumper and head off on one of these 11 winter adventures around Brisbane.

1. Go camping by a lake

Camping at Lake Moogerah

Camping. In winter. You’ve got to be kidding? Nope. Gather some friends, pile up the car with cosy blankets and set the GPS for Lake Moogerah Caravan Park. Located on a picturesque lake, the campground has plenty of giant fire pits to crack a bottle of shiraz next to and sing campfire songs while wearing a cute beanie.

By day there are national parks to explore, Mt Edward to climb and local produce to sample. By local produce we mean Scenic Rim Brewery’s finest craft beer and the wine at Kooroomba Lavender Farm or Bunjurgen Estate.

2. Explore a heritage city

Drive west of Brisbane and you’ll hit the heritage city of Ipswich, where the city centre is home to many historic buildings. Start the day at Rafter & Rose – a shabby chic cafe where the laneway plants are starting to take over. From here wander up Brisbane Road – through an area known as "Top of Town" – to find vintage haunts, antique stores, cool furniture boutiques and art supplies. Close to here, pop into the Ipswich Antique Centre to browse thousands of objects inside a restored 1895 heritage building.

When your stomach starts to grumble, head to the 88 Limestone Street quarters. Here, Pumpyard Bar & Brewery does gourmet pub fare, or Dovetails offers a smart cafe experience. Save room for dessert – more specifically, save room for the fun and creative flavours at Ungermann Brothers ice-cream.

Ungermann Brothers Ice cream

3. Hunt out local and seasonal produce

Pecans and finger limes. Sheep cheese and olives. From long table lunches, to country markets, to hands-on classes and producer meetings – Scenic Rim Eat Local Week is back this winter and it’s your chance to get back in touch with the food you eat and the people who make it. 

Take a look at the festival program and design your own self-guided producer trail through the Scenic Rim area between events. Beyond food there are plenty of lakes, mountains and valleys to explore. Just don’t miss the signature Winter Harvest Festival event on Saturday 7 July.

4. Chase a cosy fireplace

In a world of smart phones, endless emails and instant updates, there is something extra special about staring at a roaring fireplace and finding it as engaging as your favourite show on Netflix. When the temps drop, escape the city and kick back beside a log fireplace with a glass of wine and your favourite person. 

Make a weekend of it with a romantic stay on Tamborine Mountain at Pethers Rainforest Retreat. During you day you can hop between cellar doors, fudge and cheese tasting, and waterfall walks atop Tamborine Mountain. Bliss.

Pethers Rainforest Retreat

5. Hit Moreton Bay for whale watching

Get up close and personal with majestic humpback whales as they pass by the South East Queensland coast to the warm, tropical waters of Queensland. More boat cruise than road trip, Brisbane Whale Watching and Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruises offer tours in Moreton Bay Marine Park and guarantee a sighting of these gentle sea giants.

Brisbane Whale Watching

6. Soak in sunshine and shiraz

The Tuscan Terrace at Sirromet Winery is just asking for winter sun basking. Drop into the award-winning winery for a tasting and tour before kicking back on the deck at the casual bistro for lunch. From here, expect stunning views of surrounding bushland, the bay and North Stradbroke Island.

Sirromet Wines

You might like to keep your body moving to stay warm, so grab an oversized club and give SupaGolf a go. And let it be noted, you don’t need to rush off – stay the night in one of Sirromet’s new glamping tents in the bush.

7. Head for the highest point

At Australia’s highest non-alpine lodge, it’s generally 10 degrees cooler than downtown Brisbane – and that means the fireplaces at Spicers Peak Lodge are roaring nearly year-round. Add in a mountaintop location with incredible views, gardens to explore and Highland cows to find and you’ve got an adventure at what feels like the end of the earth.

Spicers Peak

Stay a night or two at this giant, rustic lodge (it’s all-inclusive, hello wine list) or drop in for the tasting menu at lunch. Either way, the stunning views as you climb over the Great Dividing Range make the journey worthwhile.

8. Explore Straddie on your time

Yes, we’re suggesting you go to an island paradise in winter. Why? Well, North Stradbroke Island is even more laid back during the winter months, but mostly because Point Lookout is one of the best land-based whale watching spots in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island

More than 20,000 humpback whales migrate through Moreton Bay every winter and sitting on the grass or rocky outcrop at Point Lookout will give a prime view of "Humpback Highway" as they pass surprisingly close to the sand island.

9. Take a winding drive through D’Aguilar National Park

The lush, green rainforest and winding mountain roads around D’Aguilar National Park make for a great day out exploring. Start in Brisbane and drive towards the super-cute Samford Village, a slice of country life 30 minutes from the city. Our favourite cafe for brunch or lunch is The Flying Nun. After you’ve fueled up, divert towards Mt Glorious and wander the Greene’s Falls Track among others. That track takes about one hour return.

If you want to keep exploring, pass back through Samford Village to continue north towards Dayboro. Count 18 heritage buildings and drop into the Dayboro Art Gallery for a look or Crown Hotel for a beer. Alternatively, a little further along Ocean View Estates is a gorgeous winery and brewery with a top-notch restaurant and gorgeous views.

Back on the road, pull into The Gantry in D’Aguilar National Park via Sellin Rd. Ditch the car and walk to Somerset lookout for spectacular views over the Great Dividing Range, Somerset Dam and Lake Wivenhoe. For a shorter way back to Brisbane, take the Bruce Highway.

10. Find a remote cooking school

Punch "Lost World Valley" into your GPS and be delightfully surprised to see results. It’s a place so close to Brisbane yet seemingly nowhere. Near the valley’s end a tiny cottage with magnificent views hosts four-hour cooking experiences about once a month. These culinary journeys with Wild Lime Cooking School twist native ingredients (mostly grown on site) into traditional dishes from many cuisines. 

Wild Lime Cooking School

After spending the morning cooking, taste the fruits of your efforts over a long three-course lunch with local wines and those epic views from the foot of world heritage listed mountains. Even better, you can extend your gourmet getaway and stay in the cottage or at another farm stay down the road.

11. Drink whisky by a roaring log fire under the stars

Take some time out to connect at Spicers Hidden Vale

Treat yo’self to a weekend away at luxe country retreat Spicers Hidden Vale. By day wander the 89-bed kitchen garden, orchard with mango trees and bee hives, and barnyard with pigs and geese before sitting down to a feast of local produce for lunch or organise a picnic hamper to take somewhere on the 12,000 acre property. By night head over to the firepit near the billiards room and have the staff bring you nips of whisky while you stargaze above.

Discover more winter warmers