Just a 90-minute drive south-west from Brisbane, the fabulously historic town of Warwick makes a great short break destination from the Queensland capital, or the Gold or Sunshine Coasts. Best known for its epic sandstone architecture, blooming roses and annual rodeo, there’s a lot more to discover about the charming gateway to the Granite Belt and Southern Downs Region.
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Warwick.
8am: Breakfast amongst the blooms
Enjoy coffee and fresh pastries at the Weeping Mulberry nurserycafé on Victoria Street – the site of the town’s old butter factory. Leave time to stroll through the well-stocked nursery and the gift store, which is packed with interesting crafts and antique items.
10am: Follow the Condamine River on foot
Allow breakfast to settle by taking a walk alongside the picturesque Condamine River. It’s a short drive to the start of the River Walk, which meanders for a distance of 2.5 kilometres. The Condamine River itself runs for 657 kilometres, travelling through Killarney, Warwick and Chinchilla. Look out for the giant Tiddalik (frog sculpture) in Federation Park.
11am: View a collection of rail memorabilia
If you’re feeling extra fit, swap over onto the Railway Walk and wander down to the corner of Fitzroy and Hamilton Streets to the Heritage Railway and Rail Museum. Here you can explore an array of old railway carriages and the locomotive workshops. If your dates line up, hop on a fully restored steam locomotive (a C17) and travel from Warwick to Stanthorpe on a tour operated by the Southern Downs Steam Railway. Check their website for details.
12.30pm: Enjoy lunch at Warwick’s top café
Cherry Tree Coffee and Dining on the corner of Palmerin and Fitzroy Streets offers a tempting selection of savoury wraps and sandwiches, and sweet treats. Hot dishes are also an option and it’s all served up with a generous dash of country hospitality.
2pm: Get your inner cowboy on at the Rodeo Heritage Centre
Warwick is the home of Australia’s oldest rodeo and the Rodeo Heritage Centre on Alice Street is the only museum of its kind in the country. Interactive displays and memorabilia explore Australia’s rodeo history. Try your luck at roping ‘Sparky’ the mechanical steer.
4pm: Admire the town’s period sandstone gems
Drive through town and take in Warwick’s wealth of historical sandstone architecture. The soaring St Mary’s Catholic Church on Palmerin Street (corner Wood Street) was built between 1920 and 1926, while the Warwick Town Hall dates back to 1888. The Post Office (circa 1891), built in the Baroque Revival style, is really stunning.
Drop by Warwick Museum on Dragon Street, which is home to Pringle Cottage. The heritage-listed residence was constructed in 1870, and the same stonemason built the famous Victorian-era Abbey of the Roses for the Sisters of Mercy in 1883. It’s possible to pre-book a self-guided tour of sections of the main abbey building and its well-tended gardens.
6pm: Tuck into a country-style dinner
Confirmed carnivores are in for a treat at the American-style Bluebird Kitchen and Smokehouse. Tuck into a juicy burger or platter of smoked BBQ meats. Herbivores will love the vego burger and quinoa side.
8am: Enjoy breakfast a century in the making
Occupying one of Warwick’s oldest buildings, the retro Belle Vue Café has been serving delicious fare for more than 100 years – and there’s a plaque on the wall to prove it! Order from their extensive menu (including vegetarian-friendly and vegan options) and celebrate the longevity of this popular eatery.
9am: Immerse yourself in the beauty of Main Range National Park
It’s time to explore one of the glorious natural landscapes within close proximity to Warwick. A 50-kilometre drive east of the city will bring you to the Main Range National Park, which is part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Walk through lush tropical rainforest to lookouts that offer spectacular vistas of the Great Dividing Range. Walking tracks range from easy to challenging, but always watch your step (it can be super slippery on these trails). Pack a picnic lunch and make the most of your day out.
2pm: Step back in time at the Glengallan Homestead
On the return drive to Warwick, bypass the turnoff into town and continue on the New England Highway towards the eastern Darling Downs and Glengallan Homestead. Construction of the two-storey sandstone mansion by Scottish born-pastoralist John Deuchar and his wife Elizabeth began in 1867. An economic downturn led to their bankruptcy, and the unfinished property fell into disrepair. More than a century later it was heritage listed and completely restored. Visit the Heritage Centre and enjoy an afternoon tea of fresh scones with jam and cream at the cafe.
7pm: Dine in Warwick’s oldest hotel
Round off your day with a meal steeped in history at the Warwick Hotel. The hotel was established in 1908 and serves traditional pub-style favourites in an old-world setting. The bartenders enjoy creating unique cocktails, so let them get creative, then toast this gem of an Aussie travel destination.
Need a place to stay? Comfort Inn Warwick encompasses a century-old sandstone homestead (known as La Mascotte) and a modern wing of contemporary rooms. Enjoy the surrounding gardens, the guest BBQ facilities and outdoor pool.
About the writer
Jennifer Johnston is a Brisbane-based freelance writer and blogger inspired by travel, people, health and wellbeing. When Jennifer’s not writing, you may find her hiking in some scenic part of the world or at the beach. She’s not the type to sit still – preferring adventure over relaxation and conversation over contemplation.