|A weekend drive from Brisbane - Quick Facts|
Mt Nebo to Kilcoy, Woodford and Dayboro is a 230km loop from Brisbane.
The two story timber pub with its wide verandah, decorative fretwork and big yellow XXXX sign is its signature. Wide, slow moving streets, the ubiquitous LandCruiser ute and a friendly, what you see is what you get attitude on the part of the locals are other distinctive features, which make travelling around country Queensland such a pleasure.
A favourite weekend drive for Brisbanites is Mt Nebo - Kilcoy - Woodford - Dayboro, a 230 km loop which, despite its proximity to the capital, will certainly give you a taste of fair dinkum rural Queensland.
It starts only 20 minutes or so from the centre of Brisbane. Just follow Route 31 from Petrie Terrace on the north western side of the CBD, where it's signposted Musgrave Road then Waterworks Road, towards The Gap, Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious. The Gap is the last suburb before the road quickly starts to climb its way up into the foothills of the D'Aguilar Range. This area encompasses the Brisbane Forest Park, a 28,500 hectare green belt where locals come to escape the coastal heat, bushwalk, and relax at one of many picnic areas in the forest.
The road winds and rolls along the ridges, often shaded by tall eucalypts, as it takes you north west. Mt Jolly lookout provides spectacular north east views across the Samford Valley to Moreton Island. Wivenhoe Outlook is also worth a stop. While these two lookouts and several other spots en route have barbecues, toilets and tables, you can let someone else do the cooking at a café in Mt Nebo or Mt Glorious.
On the western side of the range, the road twists and turns on its descent to the Brisbane River valley. You soon reach a T-junction, looking straight ahead at Lake Wivenhoe.Turn right here, towards Kilcoy, 50 km north.
This is a beautiful drive through lush (in a good season) rolling grazing country for 25 kilometres up to Somerset Dam. Here, a well maintained camping area has a boat ramp, and on weekends Somerset Dam is popular with fishos and water skiers. It's stocked with Australian bass, golden perch (yellowbelly), silverperch and Mary River cod.
North of the dam, the road follows the lake shore for 28 kilometres, joining the D'Aguilar Highway just to the west of Kilcoy.
Kilcoy is a timber and cattle town, which, like some others in Australia, has over the years tried to drum up a bit of tourism with the "Yowie Country" tag. They've even named the park after this elusive beast. A timber Yowie statue stands enigmatically in the park, inviting you to ponder an encounter with the real thing. You should be able to get a decent Kilcoy steak in the Exchange or Stanley Hotel.
Continue east on the D'Aguilar Highway for 22 kilometres to Woodford, a curious mix of traditional small town country Queensland, tinged with a trace of hippie and its own unique, eccentric touch.
Each year, from December 27 to January 1, Woodford hosts the famous Woodford Folk Festival, one of the originals and, according to many true blue folkies, still one of the best.
It has grown over the years to the point where it now boasts more than 2000 performers, and has diversified into dance, street theatre, a children's festival, debates on social issues, spectacular fire shows and art and craft workshops, all held in the Festival Village, centered on a natural amphitheatre. However Woodford has another musical connection, which you can experience - and I use that word in its true sense - all year round. Elvis Parsley's Grapelands has got to be the world's weirdest and most entertaining fruit and veggie shop.
It's run by Nick Comino, an Elvis tragic and impersonator, who has on display an amazing collection of Elvis memorabilia on the walls above the spuds, bananas and pineapples. Like the King himself, Nick "jest lurves" an audience, and without much prompting will grab a zucchini for a microphone, assume that ready for action Elvis pose, and hit you with a few lines of Heartbreak Hotel.
Nick dreams of going to Memphis to see Graceland, but, with a melancholy look in his eye, says "I've gotta run the fruit shop. No time for a holiday." He does, however, get around with his Elvis show, and also has an established recording career. At Grapelands, you can pick up a copy of his latest CD - Elvis Parsley and the Swinging Zucchinis. Seriously.
You have a choice for the return leg to Brisbane. You can simply continue south east on the D'Aguilar Highway for 28 kilometres to the Bruce Highway, from where it's only another 30 kilometres or so to the northern outskirts of Brisbane.
Alternatively, you can stick with the country road/small town theme and head south from the town of D'Aguilar for 42 kilometres to Dayboro, via Mt Mee. The road again winds its way up into the foothills of the D'Aguilar Range to Mt Mee, where it runs along the ridges with terrific views across to the coast.
Mt Mee has a fine café/restaurant, Muchkins, where you can stop for a spot of afternoon tea, on the verandah if the weather is kind. From Dayboro, return to Brisbane via Samford or Petrie; both drives skirt the shore of Lake Samsonvale.
Story by Bill McKinnon, July 2004. Image courtesy of Tourism QLD