A campervan retreat in the mountains: Montville and Maleny

The weather in Queensland has really cooled down recently. The last time we took the campervan away we were still basking in the late summer heat, but autumn has now crept up on us and Brisbanites are swapping board shorts and flip-flops for scarves and Ugg boots. Some days it’s even dipped below 20 degrees!

We felt justified pulling out our English thermals though last weekend, as we headed up to the Glasshouse Mountains, an hour north of Brisbane in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It must be one of the most scenic parts of Queensland, particularly at this time of year when you get a hint of the autumnal colours that are absent along the coast.

It’s more like England than probably anywhere else I’ve been in Queensland, and in fact the Glasshouse Mountain range is so named because it reminded Captain Cook of the glasshouse furnaces in his native Yorkshire.

The mountains themselves have brilliant names, like Tibrogargan and Beerburrum. We made an unscheduled stop at Mount Beerburrum, enticed by a sign promising a short stroll to a spectacular lookout. It had the unexpected benefit fulfilling our exercise quota for a whole week, as the 700m path was at an almost vertical incline.

I stumbled across an internet forum the other day where enthusiastic bushwalkers post how quickly they complete various walks. Who knew it was such a competitive pursuit! I have not added our time, lest they think we crawled. Ahem.

Anyway the views were spectacular, and well worth the climb.

After a reviving packet of digestives back in the campervan, we continued to Maleny, which, along with Montville is one the main towns in the region. If your calves allow after your morning bushwalk, it’s a great place to mooch around rare book shops, local craft centres and organic grocers. Montville is more touristy but the main street is very appealing, with a number of little art galleries. After checking out a whole range of art and testing an abundance of fudge shops, we sat in a sunny café for the rest of the morning, enjoying a hot chocolate and some more stunning views.

Maleny happened to be hosting a famous wood expo that weekend, and seeing as it was also our fifth wedding anniversary (and I was keenly aware that if there’s ever an opportune time in one’s marriage to proffer a carved wooden gift, this was it) we thought it would be an appropriate activity. So we paid the $12 entrance fee (each!!) and went to watch some wood being chopped.

I’m not sure what I was expecting; people were proudly walking round with planks balanced over their shoulder and chopping boards tucked under their arm. But we didn’t need any planks and Paul has forbidden any more chopping boards so we made a meek exit and retreated, for what remains my favourite activity in the campervan: lunch!

Happiness is… a bowl of pasta with a gingham spoon

We found the nicest campsites were in the neighbouring village of Mapleton, and we stayed a night at two sites. It’s a different experience camping in the winter. We had a sliver of sun moving across our pitch in the afternoon, but when my deckchair started intruding on our neighbours’ scrabble game in my bid to capture the last bit of warmth, it was time to admit defeat and head inside. Once the sun disappeared from the site, the temperature dipped down to single figures, so we walked down the road to the Mapleton Tavern: the perfect country pub with a huge verandah overlooking the Blackall Range.

The campervan was surprisingly warm enough at night (the thermals and thick quilt helped), and once again made us very grateful that we were not under canvas!

Still, it will be nice to start wearing flip-flops again (without socks). Roll on summer!