Your guide to winter camping in the Granite Belt

There’s a stipulation that camping only goes with the word “summer”, but with the right gear and the right attitude, you can have just as much fun in the cooler months too.

As always, when you arrive, set up your camp first. Sommerville Valley Tourist Park is where we chose to base ourselves. It’s Stanthorpe’s newest tourist park and sits comfortably on Storm King Dam, a little over 10kms from Stanthorpe town, and just three hours south-west of Brisbane. Of course, along for the ride is BCF camping guru, Jason Broadhurst.

Given the cooler climate, Jase opted for the Wanderer stretcher and XTM single swag set up. It’s his preferred style of camping, and that’s because it’s easier to get in and out of – and, of course – up off the ground and away from the cold. Wanderer also have a new range of sleeping bags that the boys took to road test. They’re specifically designed for when temps drop below zero… and might we say, they were certainly needed.

To top it off, Jase also brought along something hot off the press – XTM’s new 270 awning. You can run walls all the way around, but when you’ve got an amazing view like we had, a one-wall setup will do you just fine.

As for Scotty, the Wanderer Gazebo was the perfect option – not only because it’s nice and quick to set up – but also when there is a bit of wind, it helps to keep out that chilly breeze. The big XTM double swag was also a great option for Scotty, as there’s plenty of room… and with the Grand Macquarie sleeping bag, he was nice and toasty.

The last step of your camp set up should be a camp oven cook up. Jase is known for his variety of camp meals on Creek to Coast, but on the menu, this night were his speciality – lamb savoury chops. And if you’re familiar with Jason’s cooking… then you’ll know a sweet treat follows closely after. A big banana split was on the cards, and boy was it tasty… a banana, stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows, sat over the coals for ten minutes, then topped with nuts and strawberries. Need we say more.

The only thing better than a fire at night is one in the morning. Stanthorpe has certainly earnt its title of ‘coldest town in Queensland’ … but nothing a hot breaky can’t cure… cue Jason’s omelette. With a belly full, it’s time to explore the town.

Girraween National Park is home to natural rock formations, made from Granite. Some of the most breathtaking hikes in the region are right here… and if you haven’t guessed, that’s where the name ‘Granite Belt’ comes from! Granite Arch is one of the first tracks you can tackle on your way up to the top… but if you walk a little further, you’ll stumble across Balancing Rock. It sits spectacularly atop The Pyramids and the views are just incredible.

Speaking of, the Granite Belt is home to other spectacular national parks, including Sundown National Park – a four-wheel-drive mecca. With plenty of tracks, steep climbs and descents, there’s something here for everyone.

One particular point of interest is Red Rock Gorge. The track to get there is just over 7kms from the park’s entrance and is recommended for high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles only… which is why Jase recommends getting yourself equipped with the right gear! BCF stock a great range of 4×4 gear – their XTM winch and snatch kit will be your best friend when hitting tracks like this, particularly when they’re rocky.

Once arrived, the walk to the lookout is about 200m. With spectacular gorges and the picturesque Severn River, this is the place to be if you want a taste of the outback but within arm’s reach.

We also couldn’t leave the Granite Belt without snagging ourselves a Murray Cod, so we travelled to a spot where they were biting. Michael ‘Harry’ Davey is the president of OzFish Tenterfield… a chapter dedicated to improving their local fish habitat… he’s also the man who helped put us onto a few, including Jason’s first ever Murray Cod.

So, if this has you inspired to take a camping trip of your own, particularly in these cooler months, then head into your local BCF store to get yourself sorted with all the right gear.

And if you do have your eye on the Granite Belt for a trip, we recommend a stay at Sommerville Valley Tourist Park. You can camp or take your van and set up at one of their sites, but if you want a roof over your head, then check out their luxury apartments… you’re sure to have a cosy stay in these cooler months.

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