25 things to do in Somerset - Visit Brisbane

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25 things to do in Somerset

Located a short drive from Brisbane, Somerset is the place to discover breathtaking scenery, native forests, placid waterways and a picturesque patchwork landscape. Whether you’re looking for ideas for an adventure, a lazy weekend full of fishing and sampling local produce, or simply want to escape the city lights and enjoy the country charm – this guide has something for everyone.

1. Discover the Rail Trail

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Pack your bike, hiking boots or your horse and trek along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. The path traces the former train corridor from Fernvale to Yarraman and is over 160km long in total. You can do small sections at a time. The path is accessible via any of the well-preserved former railway stations along the route. 

2. Jump out of a plane

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.

3. Take off to Lake Somerset

Lake Somerset

Take off for the weekend to Lake Somerset Holiday Park and make the most of being situated on the water’s edge. Somerset Dam is popular with water sports enthusiasts, and the fishermen take to the water bright and early. Pack a picnic and settle in for the afternoon beneath a shady gum tree along Lake Somerset’s shores. 

4. Follow the yellow brick road (along the wine trail)

Charge your glasses and make your way along Somerset’s wine trail. The first wine grapes were planted in the Somerset region in the 1800s by European settlers. There’s seven main stops along the way, so choose to make a day or a weekend of it. 

Along the way there’s Winya Wines, where Angus cattle are roaming the hills. Pick up a bottle of shiraz and some prime Angus steaks to take home. Award-winning Woongooroo Estate specialises in wine and cheese pairings – what’s not to love there? Mount England Estate specialises in a range of wine varieties, but call ahead as the cellar door only opens by appointment. Bellevue Homestead is a living reminder of the early days of Queensland settlement but the adjoining vineyard is a modern addition. 

5. Stop in at The Condensery

Trivia worth noting: what is today the Somerset Regional Art Gallery was once The Condensery – home to the Nestle condensed milk factory packing facility. Today, the gallery is a unique cultural precinct within the region, hosting rotating exhibitions throughout the year. You can’t miss the bronze red deer statue on arrival – it was hand-sculptured by renowned artist Bodo Muche as a nod to the five red deer Queen Victoria gifted to Toogoolawah in 1873. 

6. Work through the art trail

The region’s rural heritage means that the local art is rather unique in the way it presents the local landscape. Follow the region’s art trail with stop-ins at The Condensery, Folk Art Cooperative, Glen Rock Gallery, Kilcoy Courthouse Art Gallery, Kilcoy Craft Cottage, Nash Gallery and Cafe, Old Church Gallery Moore, Supper Room Gallery and The Open Door Gallery.

7. Weekend at Wivenhoe

Wivenhoe Dam

There’s boating, camping, fishing and more to do in a weekend at Lake Wivenhoe. Covering 33,000 hectares, the lake restricts the use of certain boats, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a relaxed break. They also say that Lake Wivenhoe is the place to go for Australia’s best bass fishing.

Fun fact: Lake Wivenhoe is home to the unique air-breathing lungfish, a rare prehistoric fish whose lineage can be dated back 380 million years.

8. Take a Sunday drive

This delightful drive following the shores of Lakes Somerset and Wivenhoe offer expansive water views and country panoramas providing a taste of the diverse Somerset region. With curves, dips and water-side stops this is an interesting circuit for motorcycle or car.

Start your journey in Kilcoy with a visit to Yowie Park and the Kilcoy Visitor Information Centre before heading towards Lake Somerset. Stop off at a number of locations along the lake including, Kirkleagh day use area, the Spit day use area and Somerset Park, just below the dam wall to experience the village of Somerset Dam which was created to house the workers who built the dam over a 24-year period.

Continue along to Oshea’s Crossing which has the perfect setting for a relaxing break beside the Stanley River in between Lakes Somerset and Wivenhoe. Continue on to the town of Esk home to a variety of shops cafes before heading south along the Brisbane Valley Highway with a stop off at Hamon Cove or Logan Inlet and the Wivenhoe Hill trails to stretch your legs before driving over the Wivenhoe Dam wall. Before finishing your drive in Fernvale stop at the Spillway Lookout for a great view of the Wivenhoe Dam wall. Finish the day in the town of Fernvale.

9. Drop into the historical Esk

Esk

It is virtually impossible to miss the Glen Rock monolith that towers above the town when you drive in to Esk. Stop in at Red Deer Cafe or Nash Gallery and Café for lunch, followed by a wander down the street to check out some of the heritage buildings, formerly housing sawmills, a butter factory and a saddler that live on today as cafes, antique stores, galleries and more.  

10. Eat a pie at Old Fernvale Bakery

The Old Fernvale Bakery Cafe has been creating over 140 gourmet pie varieties since 1989 in Fernvale. Renowned for its country home-style cooking, the bakery has won more awards for its pies than any other shop in Queensland. A recent claim to fame that is definitely worth trying is the Vegemite and Cheese Pie.

11. Explore Northbrook Gorges

Swim through two freshwater gorges along this 6km trail. It’s about a 30-minute trek to the first gorge, and if you aren’t keen to swim through it you can take the steep trail around it. The second gorge is about another 30 minutes’ walk away that will take you through to the Wivenhoe Lookout. The view is totally worth it.

12. We're cruisin'

Landcruiser National Park

Picture this: 10,000 acres of camping and 4WD tracks with a mountain (pun intended) of things to do. Landcruiser Mountain Park offers just that, with over 200km of tracks to go off-road in your 4WD and four main areas for you to set up camp for the weekend. There are waterfalls, creeks and the head of our beloved Brisbane River for you to swim in or fish in.

13. Get back on track

Be it on two legs, four legs or even two wheels, there are four trails worth following to get you up close and personal with the history and landscape of the region. The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail follows the old railway that originally stretched from Wulkuraka to Yarraman and covers about 100km with plenty of stop-offs in small towns along the way. The Wivenhoe Hill Trails have been divided into four separated trails, so if you pick one then that’s your morning sorted, leaving plenty of time for other things. The Conondale Range Great Walk is great if you’re looking to a weekend camp and hike. There’s about 50km of trails to cover, with camping grounds and access points along the route.

If you really want to go off the beaten track, the Bicentennial National Trail stretches an extraordinary 5330km from Cooktown in FNQ to Healesville in Victoria. The trail is divided into 12 sections, so pick one and there’s the weekend sorted.

14. Stay in a dome at Weltevreden Domes Retreat

Escape the hustle and bustle and spend at least a night at the Weltevreden Domes Retreats. The geodesic shape of the domes is designed to enhance the relaxation process. The views of Lake Wivenhoe from the comfort of your own dome are excellent, and you may spot some of the local wildlife going about their daily lives. 

15. Dine at Nash

Nash Gallery

The ornate Lars Andersen House is one of Esk’s many heritage buildings. Today it houses Nash Café 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. They also sell beautiful handmade gifts and pottery which make for excellent gifts to others or gifts to self.

16. Catch a film at Toogoolawah

Toogoolawah is the place to be on Saturday nights. The historic Alexandra Hall shows movies every Saturday, complete with canvas sling-back chairs. Sit back with a box of fresh popcorn or a hot dog and take advantage of not being cooped up in a traditional cinema and go along to one of the showings – the films are all recent releases.

17. Relax on deck

Set amid beautiful native gardens and natural bushland, relax on the 65-hectare property of the Hollow Log Country Retreat. It’s a unique Aussie bush experience, with bushwalking, feeding farm animals, toasting marshmallows and spotting koalas just some of the things to do.

18. Stargaze

Set up camp and your camera along the lake and take in the beautiful night sky over Lake Somerset – it’s stunning on a clear night. Keep an eye out for the water dragons - they’re always scurrying about from one place to another.

19. Eat, drink and stay at the Exchange Hotel Kilcoy

Established in 1903, the Exchange Hotel in Kilcoy has been dishing out good old-fashioned hospitality for well over 100 years. Stop by for an icy cold beer and taste the menu that promises to dish out fresh and locally-grown produce.

20. Go for a paddle

Rent a canoe from One Tree Canoe Company and paddle along the 56km of peaceful waterways from Wivenhoe to Kholo. You’ll be sharing the water with the likes of pelicans and songbirds and the occasional fish popping out of the water. The trail is not signposted, however the launch points are easy enough to find using this guide.

21. Lead around a llama

Llama Walk

If you’d like some company on your walk along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, why not take a llama as your companion at Ottaba Llamas. You'll have an opportunity to get to know your llama before you start your walk, and morning tea is provided along the way. The farm also has alpacas, a camel and even donkeys to meet during your visit.

22. See the Fernvale Murals

Fernvale Murals

The local community created the Fernvale Murals that now stand in Fernvale Memorial Park 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.

23. See a yowie

Yowie Statue in Yowie Park

If you go into the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. Described as Australia’s Bigfoot, the yowie has been spotted hundreds of times since 1979 and continues to be spotted from time to time. Kilcoy has fully embraced the legend and erected a 3m-tall wooden statue of the yowie in Yowie Park. If you don't get to see the real thing, don’t worry because the town has made sure you don’t miss out: the nearby service station is now serving "genuine yowie burgers", the Stanley Pub dishes up "yowie steaks" and the Exchange Hotel has created a cocktail called the "Yowie Donger".

24. Stop by the Fernvale Country Markets

Held every Sunday from 6am-midday, the Fernvale Country Markets are a treasure trove of fresh produce, jars of homemade jam and pickles, handmade goods, country-style food trucks and even the odd stall selling baby chickens.

25. Brush up your golf skills at Kilcoy Golf Club

Just north of Lake Somerset, the Kilcoy Golf Club has a nine-hole course for you to work your way through.

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