An hours drive south of Allora lies Stanthorpe, smack bang in the centre of the Granite Belt. Massive rocks are everywhere and they are even more popular than swans made out of old car tyres as garden features.
Originally a tin mining town, at the turn of the 20th century it morphed into a fruit growing area with apple orchards and berries which still dominate the market. Winemakers and olive producers came from Italy to the district in the 1920s and helped establish what we now know as the food and wine trail. There are 50 plus vineyards in the Granite Belt and you’ll be shocked/amazed/disappointed that I didn’t visit one! ( Confession: our accomodation was at a microbrewery but that doesn’t count, right?)
Stanthorpe is over 800 metres above sea level so get this : in sub tropical Queensland winters in Stanthorpe mean log fires and the occasional snow flurry. They even celebrate a Brass Monkey Festival.
One of the outlying rural areas of Stanthorpe is Amiens, named after the battlefield in France in which Australians were involved during World War 1. It was a Soldier Settlement of approx. 17,000 acres and more than seven hundred returned soldiers were allocated blocks in what became known as settlements of Amiens, Messines, Bapaume, Passchendaele, Bullecourt, Pozieres and Fleurbaix.
“Under the Discharged soldiers’ settlement Act, 1917 every discharged member of the armed forces was entitled to apply for land and financial assistance. The important goals within this initiative were to open up new land for settlement as well as place willing and suitable settlers on this land. At the same time, it aimed to provide employment as well as the necessary support for the many discharged servicemen who had served their country.”
Today, there are less than 300 people living in this area. It was windswept and darn cold – I cannot imagine the living conditions 100 years ago.
And for those who have been paying attention Stanthorpe really does have more than its fair share of fine pubs.