There will be smiles on all the faces at Killarney today, with the sound of gentle rain hitting the paddocks and filling the dams.
It's been a long time between good drinks in this rich part of the Southern Downs. Just a few weeks ago, farmers were considering the prospect of hand feeding their stock until the end of winter. I'd say tonight they will be relaxing by a roaring fire and enjoying that 'life is good' feeling again.
About an hour and 45 minute drive from Brisbane, well off the busy Cunningham Highway, Killarney is the sort of gem that you stumble on by accident or you hear about from friends.
It's a great weekend break and that's how I visited, touring the quiet country roads on the back of a motorcycle. It's a popular motorcycle touring route and we saw plenty of other travellers along the way.
First stop was morning coffee in Boonah and then a ride along the twisting Head Road which has recently reopened with post flood damage repaired.
The views along the road are breathtaking, so it's good to take it slowly and enjoy the ride. Stop at Carrs Lookout where there is a viewing platform with interpretive panels which remind visitors that a Lincoln bomber on a mercy flight from Townsville to Brisbane crashed into the side of Mt Superbus in 1955. On board were four crew, a nurse and a baby in urgent need of a blood transfusion. All were filled instantly on impact. Large sections of the wreckage still remain intact hidden amongst the rolling green hillsides.
Carrs Lookout is right next door to Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Cottages which was the destination for the night but first there was a steak sandwich lunch calling at the Killarney Hotel. The cafe is open for lunch and you might want to stop here and sample one of Bev Ruskey's famous beef and shiraz pies.
While I'd love to see the Killarney Hotel's steak sandwich made with bread that was a little easier to handle, the steak had a good beef flavour and was local, from the butcher next door. And the chips, well they were some of the best I've tasted.
Heading back up the mountain on the 14km Falls Drive we stopped to check out Queen Mary Falls and the Falls Cafe which is renowned for its Devonshire Teas.
Now that's a scone and jam to remember!
Louise Reed and her family make the scones and run the cabins and caravan park behind the cafe. There's packets of bird seed for sale and it doesn't take much encouragement to have a parrot sitting on your hand. The female satin bowerbirds obviously can't read the 'don't feed the birds' signs and wait for crumbs, scooping them up before they even hit the ground. The male bower bird is over the road guarding his bower and collection of blue objects which includes a blue child-sized croc shoe.
Spring Creek Mountain Cafe & Cottages have the world at their feet with views that stretch forever. Watching the sun set over the hill and the sunrise over the sleep paddocks in the morning is blissful. It's so quiet, all you can hear are birds and the occasional cow. The wallabies jumping through the paddocks are soundless and their joeys peek out from the pouch to check out visitors.
Dinner at the cafe was with owner Spring Creek Mountain Cafe & Cottages owner Bev Ruskey, local butcher Greg Power and potato farmer Mal Smith. Mal, Greg and Bev gave us city slickers who think rain is just a bit of water, an insight into what it means to be on the land and live by nature's rules. It's a nice lifestyle says Mal, but you are never going to be rich.
Bev served up Mal's veggies and Greg's beef on our dinner plates and despite the large slice I couldn't leave a morsel of the tender grass-fed beef.
In the morning Louise Brosnan, a fifth generation local with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local area passed down through her family, took me on a Cambanoora Co four-wheel drive tour through Cambanoora Gorge's 14 crossings to the head of the Condamine River.
It's was fascinating three hour tour with stories of timber felling, pioneers, heritage, geology, local legends and even a bunyip!
We called in to chat to a local beef farmer Niel Peterson, who also runs beef cattle and bed and breakfast cottages. Diversification is the key to survival he says. What impressed me was his concern for his cattle. The young calf in the photo below was born via Cesarean section to save both the calf and his mother. The operation cost more than the mother was worth but it's the second time this has happened recently. Farming is not just about making a dollar.
Check out Oaklea Cottages Bed & Breakfast for getaway options.
There were all types of friendly locals along the track to stop and meet too.
Killarney is place that stays with you long after you are tucked up in bed at home. You'll find friendly people. great scenery, comfortable accommodation and a paddock to plate food experience
without looking hard at all.
Recommended for: Couples, families, groups seeking an authentic country experience.
Bottom line: Cottages are priced from $210 per couple per night and include a full country breakfast.
Best tip: Go in winter for a country experience with a roaring fire and in summer to enjoy the cool mountain air.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled courtesy of Tourism Queensland