Spend 48 hours in Somerset

There are two ways to explore the Somerset region. One is to embrace the wild outdoors and go boating, camping and fishing around its large lakes. The other is to embrace history, art and wine heritage. We’re bringing the best of those two worlds together in this 48-hour guide to make the most out of a weekend in the Somerset region.

Views to Somerset Dam

Day 1

5pm – Drive out to Somerset

Flick the ignition, hit go on your killer playlist and begin the journey out to Somerset. From Brisbane CBD it takes about 80 minutes to drive out to Esk, the biggest town in the region and a place that boasts a rich history.

6.30pm – Check into the Weltevreden Domes 

Have you ever stayed in a geodesic dome? No, we didn’t think so. The three domes at Weltevreden Retreat feature plush beds, ensuites, reverse-cycle air-conditioning and uninterrupted views over Lake Wivenhoe. Their shape is designed to enhance the relaxation process, so that is exactly what you should do: relax.

7pm – Head into town for a feed

The Domes are only 5km from Esk, so head into town for a pub dinner at the Club Hotel or the refurbished Grand Hotel. If you’re looking for a party, there’s entertainment at the Grand Hotel on Friday and Saturday nights. For something really different, drive over to Louise’s Tables for dinner – who knew there would be a cordon bleu-trained chef in Esk?

9pm – Stargaze from bed

Leave the curtains open, jump into bed and enjoy watching the night sky sparkle with twinkling stars and the moon. Stargazing in insect-free, private, air-conditioned comfort has never been better.

Note: Of the three, the View Dome has the most picturesque views over Lake Wivenhoe.

Day 2

5am – Sunrise and shine

Somerset Region

There’s a reason we sent you to bed early. Sunrise from the domes is often a morning spectacle. Hopefully you’ll be treated to 50 shades of pink, yellow and purple as the sun greets the horizon.

7am –  Breakfast in bed

A stay in the geodesic domes ends with a continental buffet breakfast – the perfect beginning to a big day ahead. The view of Lake Wivenhoe from the domes is excellent so keep an eye out for local wildlife as you sip on your morning coffee.

8.30am – Hit the water

You’re spoiled for options around here. Lake Somerset is just a half hour’s drive from Esk. If you’ve brought your boat with you, get out on the water for a ski or a spot of fishing. No boat? No worries – there are designated swimming areas for you to cool down, and plenty of spots along the shoreline to fish from. Pick a spot under a shady gumtree with that book you’ve been meaning to read, and while away the morning. 

11.30am – Wine and dine

Head to Winya Wines and tuck into a Black Angus rib fillet barbecue lunch. The beef is grown on this very property and if you love it, you can buy cuts of beef to take home and cook yourself. Finish off with a visit to the cellar door to taste some (or all – depends who is driving) of the eight wines produced here.

1.30pm – Follow the Somerset Wine Trail

Nirvana Estate

Charge your glasses and work your way through Somerset’s wine trail. Once you leave Winya Wines, make the journey around to the award-winning Woongooroo Estate and, if you have time, make the trek over to the vineyard at Ocean View Estates. You may need a nap afterwards.

5.30pm – Grab a bite to eat

Chances are you’ll be filling up on popcorn later, so grab a quick bite to eat on your way to Toogoolawah at Esk Thai, fish and chips from the Red Deer Cafe or a tasty treat from the Eskape Café.

7pm – Catch a flick at Toogoolawah Cinema

The historic Alexandra Hall in Toogoolawah Cinema shows movies every Saturday night, complete with canvas sling-back chairs. Lay back with a box of fresh popcorn or a hotdog and enjoy the show. 

Day 3

8am – Time to go skydiving

Three people fall from sky with Skydive Ramblers

Thrill seekers, this is for you. Take in the region’s view from a bird’s perspective with Skydive Ramblers in Toogoolawah. During the 15-minute flight to reach altitude, look down upon all of South East Queensland – stretching from the Great Dividing Range to the Pacific Ocean. Step off and free fall for what feels like a year but is actually a minute – release the parachute and (somewhat) relax while floating back to earth. Do your best to pick out the Brisbane River, Lake Wivenhoe and the D’Aguilar Ranges.

10am – Visit the Condensery

Once you’ve recovered from skydiving, visit what is today the Somerset Regional Art Gallery. Formerly known as The Condensery, the building housed the Nestle condensed milk factory packing facility. The gallery is today a unique cultural precinct that hosts rotating exhibitions throughout the year. On arrival, it’s impossible to miss the bronze red deer statue – it was hand sculpted by renowned artist Bodo Muche as a nod to the five red deer Queen Victoria gifted to Toogoolawah in 1873.

11am – Take a walk with a llama

Llama Walk

Explore the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail … with a llama as your companion. Ottaba Llamas gives the opportunity to get to know your llama before you start your walk. The farm also has alpacas, a camel and even donkeys to meet during your visit. Take note: you can only go on a walk if you book in advance.

1.30pm – Late lunch in Esk

Nash Gallery

The ornate Lars Andersen house is one of Esk’s many heritage buildings. Today it is home to Nash Cafe and Gallery where you can sip on Devonshire teas and enjoy the tasty house-made sweet treats while taking in the unique artwork on display. After lunch, wander through the gift shop and pick up a gift for friends … or a gift to self. 

3pm – One last drop

Bellevue Homestead & Vineyard

If you aren’t wined out, there’s some more worthwhile stops along the way. These two are on the way back to Brisbane from Esk. Discover some of the region’s history with wine in hand at Bellevue Homestead and stop in at Mount England Estate for a bottle of one of its many varieties.

5pm – Pick up a pie

Creating over 140 gourmet pie varieties since 1989, The Old Fernvale Bakery Cafe has won more awards for its pies than any other store in Queensland. Stop in on your way home and taste one of these famous pies – a recent claim to fame is the Vegemite and Cheese pie.

Fernvale Murals

Walk it off before the drive home with a visit to Fernvale Memorial Park to see the Fernvale Murals that were created by the community after the devastation of the 2011 floods. Portraying snapshots of buildings that have long stood in the heart of the town and still stand today, the murals’ design is intended to portray the life and resilience of the town’s growing community.

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