Take the ride of your life and discover the taste of apples freshly picked from the tree, cheese made from the milk of a single herd of Jersey cows and a castle with no walls, all on a bicycle tour with Granite Belt Bicycle Tours & Hire.
If a four-hour bike ride sounds a little daunting, put your fears away. Granite Belt Bicycle Tours owners Jon Hendry and Vanessa Boulton have extensive cycling experience between them and an equally wide selection of high quality, easy-to-ride bikes for you to use. Plus you are only riding for about two of the four hours.
I'm not a regular bike rider, and neither is K2, but the morning was a huge success for us and a different way to see a part of the world we have often visited.
We met Jon and Vanessa at the Visitor Information Centre in Leslie Street, Stanthorpe and joined them in their car to head out for a half day Castles, Cafe's and Cabernet Granite Belt Adventure.
It started at in Pozieres State Forest at Donnelly's Castle. Local legend has this as a bushranger's hangout, but Jon found that the historical society had other ideas. They say it was a favourite picnic spot for the Donnelly family and became known as Donnelly's Castle because of it's high position. It's certainly an interesting place with huge, moss-covered granite boulders, a kinda creepy but deliciously cool cave, and a view that takes in a wide swath of the district.
I kept asking Jon was the ride down hill and his reply was 'mostly'. After we had left Donnelly's Castle, I found out what that meant with a shot uphill section that had me off my bike and pushing. But it wasn't for long and it was mainly downhill, with some sections that made me feel like a ten-year-old racing my bike with the wind again.
We rode past apple orchards and rows of other fruit trees, and may, or may not have stopped to pick an apple or two.
By the time we reached our first stop, Stanthorpe Cheese, I was ready for a break. Rosco had a wonderful Ploughman's Platter waiting for us filled with local produce. Vanessa joined us here and was able to take the purchases I could not live without, away in the van.
The tour can also include wine tasting at Summit Estate and a stop at Vincenzo's at the Big Apple where there's plenty of local produce to browse and buy.
Back on our bikes for the next stop and we were heading to Bridget Bunchy Recycle Gallery & Textile Studio. This is part of the Nothing New trail which will take you to places where the theme is recycled, vintage and old wares.
I couldn't resist a couple of things in this delightful shop filled with creations from local artists.
While I expected to remember that I'd been bike riding every time I stretched for the next few days, I was pleasantly surprised with my body's resilience. I put it down to the excellent bikes provided by Jon and the ploughman's lunch which obviously gave me all the energy I needed.
Ed+bK rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Bottom line: The tour costs $85 per person (Feb 2016)
Best tip: Don't forget your sunscreen!
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Southern Queensland Country Tourism and Granite Belt Bicycle Tours & Hire.