About Spring Creek Mountain Cafe & Cottages
“The Age” Newspaper featured a travel article on Spring Creek Mountain Cafe & Cottages in July 2005, which offers an interesting account of the history of the Cafe & Cottages as well as information about the area.
Bev Ruskey was taking a scenic drive back to Brisbane from a weekend touring the vineyards of the Granite Belt in 1991 when she saw a “For Sale” sign that changed her life.
It was on a piece of land seven kilometres north of Queen Mary Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in southern Queensland and now a national park. More exciting still, the block was just below Carr’s Lookout, which offers a stunning mountain view.
Within days Ruskey and her partner had bought their dream block. A decade and a half later, it is the site of Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Cottages, a perfect place to explore the area Brisbanites know as “the western Scenic Rim”.
Much of the western part of the rim consists of national park or forest reserve, including the Main Range, Mount Barney and Moogerah Peaks national parks.The Scenic Rim is a semi-circle of volcanic mountains about 110 kilometres south-west of Brisbane. It’s a dramatic barrier of rugged escarpments, towering peaks and sunken valleys that remain clad in a mixture of pristine rainforest, open forest and montane heath.
There are two ways of experiencing them at their finest. You can tramp up on one of the many bush tracks through the parks to one of the great viewing spots such as Sylvester’s Lookout or Governor’s Chair. Or you can just relax in the comfort of your queen-sized bed and gaze at the fine views through the floor-to-ceiling windows in one of the three luxury cabins at Spring Creek.
If you choose the second option, you’ll see – across the lush green valley of the Condamine River – some of the rim’s highest peaks: Mount Superbus, Mount Steamer, Mount Roberts and the unmistakably volcanic profile of Wilson’s Peak.
This is a special area, classified as a World Heritage site in 1994. Here you fully appreciate what that name “Great Dividing Range” really means: mountains that literally separate our country into two unequal parts.
Although it rises only about 100 kilometres from the Queensland coast on Mount Superbus, the Condamine eventually feeds into the mighty Murray-Darling system, which enters the sea thousands of kilometres south near Adelaide.
We took an easy but memorable two-kilometre stroll through the bush to see the horseshoe-shaped Queen Mary Falls, where Spring Creek spills 40 metres down an escarpment to join the Condamine. It’s a romantic name for a romantic setting – more evocative than Upper Daggs Falls, the name white men originally gave it. Look closely and you might see platypuses, red, spiny crayfish and pademelons as well as 100 different bird species including lyrebirds, rufous fantails and superb blue wrens.
The area around Spring Creek was opened up by hard men in search of hard woods. This was tough timber country with axemen out to scalp the tallest trees, everything from red cedar to sassafras. Old black-and-white photos show the camps, the giant saws and the proud, exhausted men standing on the massive stumps of trees they had felled.
Some of the leviathans survived. During our stay at Spring Creek one of our fellow guests, an 85-year-old birdwatcher, had met a local potato farmer who offered to take him to see a special tree – it had been so huge in the 1850s that the woodcutters gave it a reprieve because it was too hard to topple.
Spring Creek Mountain Cafe has earned a good reputation since Bev Ruskey, a keen amateur cook, opened it in 2003. After buying the land and deciding she wanted to open a restaurant, she took a decade to learn the ropes. The cafe, built by her brother, is her main business because of its wonderful panorama and the number of visitors from Brisbane and the Gold Coast. It serves anything from a cream tea to a three-course meal, including Ruskey’s speciality, Killarney eye fillet on a bed of potato and celeriac mash with asparagus and a red wine jus.
But visitors from NSW will be more impressed with her three luxury cottages a few steps up the hill from the cafe, one of the few places between Tenterfield and Brisbane to offer this class of accommodation in such a scenic setting with good food (and wine) attached.
We loved our stay. So much is right about the accommodation (although “cottage” probably isn’t the most accurate description): the wood fire, the uninterrupted views, the entertainment (DVD, video), the locally made soaps in the bathroom. Were this a Weekend Away review, it would get an 18 out of 20 rating.