My photographer buddy @imagjen_ and I went exploring the Scenic Rim recently, two gals who love taking pics and eating good food – road trip woohoo!!
It was such an incredible weekend that Madeline was inspired to dedicate a whole photo series to the Scenic Rim… and I launched a new Instagram account to showcase all the amazing foodie experiences out there (follow along at @tastescenicrim).
I’m going to share my itinerary so you can plan your own weekend escape (OK, technically it’s a 3-day weekend, but what’s a day between friends).
Here’s why you’ll love this itinerary – because there’s a little bit of all the best things! Scenery that never quits, lots of foodie finds, a little history, and most importantly, some peace and quiet – because escaping the rat race is what it’s all about, right?
The Scenic Rim is a photographers dream… but even if you’re not bothered about photos, I guarantee the scenery will impress…
Our Scenic Rim road trip itinerary (3 days)
DAY 1 FRIDAY
Leaving the Gold Coast on Friday morning we drive through Beaudesert, past Wyaralong Dam, stopping at the tiny but quaint town of Kalbar. I’m here to visit Bittersuite Symphony Café – cosy with lovely homemade food and lots of cute nik knacks on the walls. Café owner Jess hosts a dinner here every second Friday night for the locals. My special iced coffee hits the spot perfectly – an espresso shot with coconut milk and signature date puree (with optional coconut ice cream).
Kalbar has some fabulous old buildings like this one
I also popped into The Butcher Co, one of those small-town butchers you remember as a kid… Most of their meat comes from a 20-30 km radius, and Kane the butcher (he grew up here) tells me the rib fillet and t-bones are his best sellers.
We drive through Aratula, and spotting a sign we turn off the main road to find a couple of historic pioneer headstones dating back to 1855.
Then we drive to the eastern end of Lake Moogerah, walking out across the top of the 41m high dam. A great photography spot with views over the lake, it’s popular for water skiing and fishing, and you can see Lake Mooerah campground nestled on the other side of the lake.
The word Moogerah means ‘home of the thunderstorm’ which seems about right as I saw one of my biggest ever thunderstorms here.
It’s crazy hot so we drive to the western end of the lake to find our accommodation Milly’s at Moogerah. I found Milly’s after searching on Google, it’s the perfect location for pre-dawn photography missions to catch sunrise over the lake (through a paddock, shoes needed).
With regal Mount Greville as a backdrop, there’s 3 bedrooms, a lovely garden and cows in neighbouring paddocks. We kick off our shoes, pull up some chairs on the deck, and plonk ourselves down with some cab sav and Camembert. The hours disappear and the sun drops from the sky as we sit back and enjoy the serenity.
DAY 2 SATURDAY
Up before dawn, we cut a track through the scrub to the edge of Lake Moogerah, for shots like this…
Dead skeleton trees in the lake and early morning light means amazing reflections are waiting for us, and our cameras get a good work out as the sun comes out.
Back to the house for breakfast (and maybe a little nap) we jump in the car and set off for nowhere in particular. Looking at the map we see there’s a circuit through Main Range National Park, and even though some roads are unsealed, I’m sure my 4×4 will be fine (the unsealed road is really good, fine for any car).
We drive down Carneys Creek Road, stopping to say high to some locals
The road wraps around a mountain in a single, windy lane that is slowly swallowed by trees. As we get higher and higher the temperature drops, and then it starts to rain. But not before we stop to take photos of the glowing green countryside where Hobbits must surely live.
We pull over at Carrs Lookout, but the rain gets heavy so we dash for the café next door, time for coffee and lunch.
Perched on the side of a mountain, Spring Creek Mountain Café has incredible views, until the mist rolls in, then it feels like you’re up in the clouds. Bev, the café owner is a chef, and not surprisingly the food that’s brought to us is superb.
Another short drive and we’re at Queen Mary Falls, where a welcoming rainbow stretches across the glittering spray. With recent rains, the 41m waterfall is in full flow and looking majestic. It’s a short 2km walk to the base of the falls, but we’re content to click our cameras from the lookout. We pop into the café to grab another coffee before getting back in the car to return to base.
Driving back, the countryside turns golden as the sun starts to fade.
Maryvale Crown Hotel is our dinner stop for the evening. It’s a bit of a drive to get here (40mins), but I love old historic pubs and at 104 years old the old girl is still looking grand.
While the food isn’t great, it fills our bellies, and we sit as many before us and watch the world go by. Maryvale is a small town of 300 people, and I wander inside to see old photos on the walls, of hard working pioneers back in the day.
DAY 3 SUNDAY
Another pre-dawn photography mission, then a drive to Aratula for breakfast at Arthur Clive’s Bakehouse, these guys are an institution, the family has been baking here since 1936. And they open early which is great if you’re up-and-at-em and looking to eat.
We head back to Milly’s, pack up our things, and head for home. After a (very good) recommendation we drive to Logan’s Lookout where a 15 minute walk leads us to a stunning lookout with panoramic views of green-quilted Fassifern Valley.
Our last stop is Boonah, for petrol. And some coffee and homemade carrot cake at Flavours Café. You’ll find the café in an old homestead, built in 1916 as the offices of the Boonah Butter Factory. At the time it was the largest butter factory in the southern hemisphere, shipping to England and the world. Wagons carrying cans of cream formed a daily procession down the street, and the wooden boxes used to ship the butter were made from hoop pine from the local saw mill.
After a final push (1.5 hour drive home), our roadtrip is done – and we still have the afternoon to unpack and relax. I was amazed at how much we saw, but it was all achieved at a leisurely pace with no set agenda. We winged it! But it was such a perfect weekend that I wanted to share it with you.
I hope this post inspires you to head to the Scenic Rim. Leave me a comment with any suggestions for my next trip!
Hi I’m Shannon, and this is my blog Eat Well Travel Often. If you enjoyed this post and want more travel and foodie inspiration around the Gold Coast, Brisbane and beyond you can sign up for my newsletter. I post heaps of photos on Instagram, and you’re welcome to pop into my Facebook lounge for chat about all things travel and food. Eat Well Travel Often my friend!