St George – Vineyard – Cotton Farm
Well, it was a beautiful spring day in October 2020 when we had the first Redcliffe Aeroclub flyaway to St. George. St. George is on the Balonne River, about 500 kilometres to the west of Brisbane in cotton farming country, just north of the NSW border. Originally Mike was going to join us but he pulled out so we put out feelers for another passenger. One mention to our friend Beth and she was in. A lover of travel with a difference, Beth has been all over the world and was having cold turkey from being unable to travel outside Australia due to Covid. It was time for a trip within Queensland.
Five planes with 11 passengers ventured off one Saturday morning. It was perfect flying weather, very smooth and no significant winds to affect the flight. Despite different planes and departure times and some different routes, four of the planes arrived at St. George airport within a few minutes of each other.
Of course, we didn’t know there was a safari of six other planes arriving at the same time! It was busier than Brisbane airport had been for months. In addition, we had a crop duster spraying in a field just below final approach who sounded a bit panicky as the skies above St. George suddenly became so crowded. Anyway, we all got down and fuelled before boarding our tour bus.
Driving the bus, our tour guide “Sno” Harm, a cotton farmer in real life, provided us with a wealth of information about the district. You will see him in the photos dressed in a blue shirt, shorts and work boots. Our first stop was the Riversands Wines Estate which was a few kilometres out of town.
It actually produces mainly table grapes for Coles and Woolies, with only a relatively small amount of wine grapes being grown. We toured much of the estate in the bus going up and down between the vines while David, the owner, showed us the different varieties of grapes and explained various aspects of the operation. This was followed by a discussion between the vines, wine tasting and a light lunch.
The wine tasting allowed us to choose some of the wines that we thought were worth taking home so we bought a few bottles before we returned to the bus. We ended up spending about two hours at the estate. The tour is highly recommended if you ever get out that way. (By the way, the wines were surprisingly good too!)
After leaving Riversands Estate, Sno took us to his cotton farm where he gave us an exhaustive tour and explained his operation and the intricacies of the cotton industry in general. He even started up a big cotton harvester to show how the cotton is picked. We spent about two and a half hours receiving our education. He would have kept showing us other parts of the district however thirst drove us back to our motel for checkin.
Our accommodation was clean and comfortable and we headed off to one of the pubs, a short walk into town, for some drinks and a big country dinner. Everyone behaved, probably because we were all pretty tired from the day and it was a relatively early night for all. Sunday morning was a leisurely affair with some people sleeping in and some exploring the town. It was particularly pretty along the river.
We met up for breakfast at another pub, the Australian, opposite the river.
Sno picked us up from the motel just after 10 and we headed about 50 kilometres out of town to the Nindigully Pub.
This pub is a bit of a bush landmark and looks exactly like what a bush pub should look like. From the photos you will see how dry it is out the front of the pub but the beer garden inside was green, shady and cool; a great spot for a bit of lunch.
The pub interior is quirky, with plenty of “outback souvenirs” on show and a mini museum that tells the history of the area.
After lunch, we headed back to the airport to load and leave. We got away around 2 pm and first headed overhead Nindigully before setting course for Redcliffe over the Darling Downs.
It was a great weekend and everyone enjoyed themselves. Definitely St George is a place to visit!