GOLD RUSH: Southern Downs to become booming tourist hot spot
The Southern Downs tourism industry is reaching new heights after a year decimated by the coronavirus, with scores of new developments and attractions cropping up across the region.
Visitor information centres in Warwick and Stanthorpe recorded a 3600-visitor increase in 2020 compared to 2019, and tourism operators across the region reported the 2021 Easter long weekend as one of their “biggest ever”.
The vote of visitor confidence comes as the region’s 2021 events calendar launches back into full swing, with favourites such as Jumpers and Jazz in July confirmed after last year’s cancellation.
The past year’s swelling tourist numbers have been accompanied by a spate of development applications for exciting new accommodation sites, breweries and distilleries, and more.
Check out our wrap of the 10 most exciting developments headed for the Southern Downs:
KILLARNEY RIVERFRONT FARMSTAY
Already one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Southern Downs, Killarney is set to gain an exclusive new tourist park.
The 10-site Booyong Tourist Park will be situated on 100ha of agricultural land near the Condamine River, with riverfront views available at six of the sites.
Developer Paul Stumkat stated in his application the tourist park would make the most of the natural scenery and provide guests with “an easily accessible bush camping experience”.
STANTHORPE DISTILLERY COMPLEX
A new microbrewery and distillery complex is set to hit the Stanthorpe CBD after being approved by the council last month.
The development at 61 Maryland St would incorporate a restaurant, tasting area, beer garden, outdoor dining area, and children’s play space alongside the production sites.
A report from SDRC revealed the applicants expected to produce about 1000L of beer each week in the microbrewery within the first year of operation, and another 2500L of spirits in the distillery.
NEW GIRRAWEEN HIDEAWAY
Visitors will soon be able to enjoy up to two weeks at a secluded accommodation spot at the back of tourist favourite Girraween National Park.
An existing four-bedroom house set on 155 acres along Pyramids Rd will be renovated to accommodate up to 16 guests.
The original development application stated the land features “over 7km of open and remote bushwalking and mountain biking tracks, all clearly signed throughout the property”.
WARWICK’S FIRST CRAFT BREWERY
The Warwick area will welcome its first local craft brewery in the coming months, with Tony and Sarah Brand’s Four Fires Brewery venture approved.
The craft brewery will be run from a farming property at 73 Gwynnes Rd, Berat, situated less than half an hour’s drive from the Warwick CBD.
Initially aiming to brew 1000L – 1500L of beer per year, Mr Brand said he hoped to bring the quality and taste of international lagers to a new regional home.
NEW GEL BLASTER FIELD
One of the most popular recreational activities on the Southern Downs will be given a new home at Leyburn.
The 6.475ha site at 375 Donovan Rd will include two gel blaster fields, an open shelter to host sausage sizzles or vendors, and a single unisex disabled toilet.
The Leyburn field will host up to 10 players per game, with a maximum of 20 people on the site at any given time.
DISTILLERY WITH A DIFFERENCE
Southern Downs couple Debra and William Spence hope to bring a distillery and perfumery site to the region.
Plans indicate an existing glass building on their property on the New England Highway at The Summit would be converted into the perfumery.
The 2500L-maximum distillery would be built on-site and use homegrown ingredients in its products.
The couple’s development application also stated Mrs Spence would soon be undertaking a research doctorate, with hopes to premise her studies on the suitability of the area’s climate to produce high-quality aged spirits.
This development application remains with SDRC and is currently in the public notification stage.
KILLARNEY GLAMPING SITE
An ambitious plan to transform popular Killarney destination Cambanoora Gorge into the region’s next luxury camping spot has been lodged for approval.
Developers Justine Hankin and Brian Thomas said the aim of the development at 952 Condamine River Rd, The Falls, was to transform the 60 acres of open grassland into a 10-site “glamper” retreat.
The site would be developed in three stages, starting with the renovation of the existing shack and moving onto the construction of the manager’s residence and information kiosk.
The final stage would focus on building the three self-sufficient glamper sites, which would accommodate up to six guests.
SEVERNLEA GLAMPING SPOT
A newly approved glamping site will open its doors at Severnlea in the coming months.
The intimate luxury spot will offer two glamping sites on a 5ha property backing onto the Severn River at 199 Stabiles Rd.
Each glamping tent will accommodate two guests and comes equipped with ensuites, ceiling fans, and fixed power.
UNIQUE EUKEY DISTILLERY
An exciting potential venture could soon combine a gin distillery and cellar door experience in a novel Southern Downs tourist destination.
The development application from Sabi Organic director Nicole Jackson proposes converting a farm shed into a spirits and essential oils distillery at a 65ha property at 1747 Eukey Rd.
Potential accommodation for up to four guests would be built from converted Queensland Rail carriages, with the cellar door to be run from a repurposed shipping container.
With the land backing onto Girraween National Park, the application stated a 46ha nature refuge called ‘The Sanctuary’ and a 2ha vineyard would also be on offer.
WARWICK GLAMPING SITE
The proposed luxury camping spot “Rosenthal Retreat by Lynley” hopes to bring a new “eco-tourism” focus to Leslie Dam and the wider Warwick area.
The Washpool Rd site would offer 12 individual glamping sites, with four each of standard queen, deluxe queen, and kingsize cabins.
The development application lodged by Mark Eldridge of Ausweld Group on behalf of Lee Powell and Lynley Kirkpatrick said the eco-tourism focus stemmed from its connection to Warwick’s indigenous heritage.