It’s that time of year when a weekend escape calls for swapping beach trips for crisp days and cool nights rugged up in the mountains. Apart from the spectacular scenery, one of the best things about cool-weather hinterland holidays is the abundance of delicious food & wine at your fingertips.
One of my favourite winter breaks in Queensland is in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, in the mountains behind the beaches of the Sunshine Coast. We drove from Brisbane to Montville, via Palmview, and stayed at Roseville House B&B.
Before you even get to Montville, you’ve got some work to do. Strawberry Fields Farm in Palmview makes a great pitstop on your way to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Once you’ve picked your enormous, juicy strawberries, pay at the counter and don’t forget to pick up a tub (or two) of chocolate dipping sauce. We tried the cheap chocolate sauce and the more expensive Belgian chocolate sauce (for research purposes, I swear). Verdict: The thick, creamy Belgian chocolate sauce is one thousand times better, definitely worth a couple of extra dollars.
Save your strawberries & chocolate for later, because Strawberry Fields makes the best strawberries ‘n cream ice cream in the world. Yes, I’ve called it. We actually stopped in again, on our way home from the Sunshine Coast, to get another hit!
The strawberry sugar high doesn’t end there – the farm’s shop has a huge array of strawberry treats, my favourite was the white chocolate strawberry!
Poet’s is a dreamy, Art Nouveau-inspired cafe perched on Montville’s Main St, with views from the verandah over a lush garden and over to the mountains. It errs a little on the side of pricey, but here we’ve ordered two of the “light meals” which were actually really filling and delicious, and turned out to be great value. It’s a popular venue for weddings and I can’t wait to linger over a long lunch here again – the atmosphere is so relaxing and lovely.
I knew I was in such trouble when I first discovered Chocolate Country. I returned again with David, and left with a number of little chocolates and a few slabs of Belgian chocolate. I am surprised that the slabs lasted long enough to make it back to our room!
Beside Poet’s is a string of shops selling gifts, toys and arts and crafts. Pop into the children’s toy shop for this glorious view out of their rear window. There’s a set of binoculars installed, in case you want a closer look.
Also on Main St, Fudgyboomba’s fudge is the stuff of legends. I still remember first trying it when my friend brought some back from Montville, which placed the village firmly in my sights. There are tonnes of flavours to choose from, so don’t stop at one!
Flame Hill Winery
We started at the cellar door, and tried five or six wines before settling on our favourite. We ate on the terrace, overlooking the vineyards, and decided to get our second favourite wine with lunch. It went so beautifully with the food, we ending up buying it, instead! We shared the platter below, and left very, very full and super relaxed – despite one of the property’s roosters running onto the terrace and scaring the hell out of me. The international tourists though it was the best thing they’d ever seen, while I willed myself to become invisible to the bird’s watchful, beady eyes.
Castle Glen Distillery
One of the few remaining distilleries in Australia, Castle Glen produces a variety of spirits, liqueurs, beers, wines and ciders. We tried the mango cider, a vanilla whisky and the super-delicious musk liqueur (that pink potion on the left). It’s easy to spend ages browsing through the seemingly endless flavours they’ve got – it was so hard to choose just one!
Below is our haul from the day, including our slabs of chocolate and what was left of our fudge – it proved impossible to resist!