Fresh country air, sprawling hillsides, bloody good wine and 14 of your closest friends. Here, unique country houses perfect for group getaways. By Alissa Jenkins and Megan Arkinstall
Hilly Ridge, Boonah, QLD
Where: Located 105 kilometres from Brisbane, in the Scenic Rim area.
What we like: This Queenslander house is perched on a mountain ridge in the middle of the Scenic Rim, with views of the surrounding 160 private acres of rugged bush and cattle grazing property. The house itself is traditional, with white weatherboards, a large wraparound verandah, simple furnishings and all the amenities you need (gas barbecue, woodfire heater, flat screen TV, DVD player and so on). But the highlight is the outdoor fire pit, perfect for roasting marshmallows under the stars.
Don’t miss: Visit Kooroomba Vineyards and Lavender Farm for wine tastings, lunch or a leisurely browse (kooroomba.com.au). Visitors must also visit the nearby spectacular national parks of the Scenic Rim, two of which are World Heritage-listed. More adventurous sorts can hike, abseil or rock climb in some of the nearby national parks – for more information visit boonahtourism.org.au
Who for: Families and friends wanting to get back to nature.
The details: Sleeps eight people in three bedrooms (this includes use of a bunk and trundle bed). From $250 per night based on four guests. hillyridge.com.au
Watersmeet, Bellthorpe, QLD
Where: In the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, 52 kilometres from the Sunshine Coast.
What we like: Located amongst rolling pastures and tropical rainforest, this is a nature lover’s dream – ideal for spotting wild goannas, wallabies, echidna and koalas through the house binoculars. But you won’t need them to see stunning 360-degree views of the ocean, Glasshouse Mountains and Conondale Valley; enjoy these from the spacious deck, where you can cook up a barbecue, glass of wine in hand. Watersmeet is also a working cattle farm featuring natural springs and dams – perfect for a cool dip. But perhaps the best spot on the property is The Knoll – relish in the views from the top of this grassy hill at sunset.
Don’t miss The small town of Maleny is only 15 minutes away and features a vibrant art and craft culture, and a wide choice of cafés, many of which offer organic, local produce.
Who for: Nature lovers – groups of friends or families who love the outdoors
The details: Sleeps up to 12 adults; four bedrooms and two bathrooms. From $325 per night for two guests. watersmeet.com.au