There’s more to Somerset than its incredible lakes, countryside charm and high-adrenaline watersports. From unusual date ideas to unique hikes (pack your swimming togs), here are 10 things you didn’t know you could do in Somerset.
1. Jump from a plane
If free falling from the sky has been high on your bucket list, put Skydive Ramblers on your radar. As Queensland’s largest and longest skydiving operation, they’ve been teaching people to leap from planes since 1972 and offering tandem jumps since 1984.
Best of all, you can take that exhilarating leap of faith any day. In just one hour, some of Australia’s most experienced instructors will get trained up, geared up and ready to fly. With more than 40 years of experience, it’s safe to say you’re in good hands!
And you’ve heard of Après-Ski, but how about Après-Fly? Ramblers is known for its friendly skydive club and epic parties. There’s a snack bar, pool, gym and accommodation, so you can turn your thrilling morning into a weekend escape.
True adrenaline junkies can stay the whole week and move from fun jumper to licensed skydiver.
2. Hike the Rail Trail with a llama
If you know just two things about the Somerset region, it’s probably that it has big lakes and the epic Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. Of course you can walk, run, cycle and ride horses along Australia’s longest recreational rail trail, but did you know you can take a personality-packed llama for a relaxed wander?
Llamas are affectionate, intelligent and curious creatures, and with Ottaba Llamas you’ll meet, greet and get to know your new friend before trekking along the flat trail together. At the homestead you can also meet the resident alpacas, camels, donkeys and farm animals.
3. Kick back at the picture theatre
The Golden Age of cinema is still on show at Toogoolawah Pictures. Grab your popcorn and relax in sling-back canvas seats, just like the good old days.
There’s usually something family friendly on show most Saturday nights at this charming vintage-style country cinema. Set within the heritage Alexandra Hall, the local progress association says movies have been shown since the 1920s.
Fun fact: the cinema only switched from 35mm projection equipment to digital in 2014.
4. Pair cheese and wine at Australia’s most northern wine region
Queensland’s wine industry now has more than 3,700 acres of vines, and is challenging perspectives with some of the most interesting high latitude bottles around. The South Burnett is recognised as Australia’s most northern wine region, and right next door sits Somerset, with a handful of wineries waiting to share their drops.
The family-owned and award-winning Woongooroo Estate is one of them. Here, passionate owners Phil and Gail specialise in the art of wine and cheese pairing and offer antipasto platters and ploughman-style lunches.
Fun fact: The first grapes were planted in Somerset in the 1800s by European settlers.
5. Take a hike in your bathers
There aren’t too many bush walks that include a swim, but when you trek this 6km trail you’ll pass through not one, but two, freshwater gorges as you follow the creek.
A well-hidden and remote hike, Northbrook Gorges is recommended for experienced hikers who love bush-bashing and river bed walking. Some parts are only ankle deep, some parts will come up to your waist and some parts you will need to swim for 15-20 metres – so bring a waterproof bag!
It takes about 30 minutes to hike to the first gorge, and if you’re not keen to get your toes (or waist) wet there is a steep trail around it. The second gorge, which has a crystal clear pool and short waterfall, is a further 30 minutes’ hike.
While we can’t predict the water level we can say that the views from the final destination makes the trek all worthwhile. From here you’ll see incredible vistas over Wivenhoe Dam and the Somerset region.
6. Eat 150+ award-winning pies
For nearly five decades the Old Fernvale Bakery has been winning awards and making a mark with its top-quality local pies.
Owners Bill and Lyn Rose have a passion for pastry, local produce and the community, and continuously challenge their master bakers and apprentices to invent new and exciting pastries and flavours.
The result? Old Fernvale Bakery offers more than 150 varieties of pies. Don’t miss the chance to drop in and see what’s on offer today.
7. Follow a regional art trail
Somerset region is not just pubs, lakes and adventure sports. Out here in the countryside where the sky is clearer, the creativity might be more vibrant, too. Once a Nestle condensed milk factory packing facility, Somerset’s star art gallery is aptly named The Condensery. Here, forward-thinking contemporary exhibitions featuring the work of living artists rotate through the halls.
Fun fact: outside The Condensery sits a bronze red deer sculpture by renowned artist Bodo Muche, which is a reference to the six red deer Queen Victoria gifted to Toogoolawah in 1873.
8. Glamp by Lake Wivenhoe
Picture this: you wake up refreshed, kick off those soft, luxurious bed sheets, and step outside to greet your neighbours – the resident wallabies who are up having breakfast by the lake.
If you’re a nature lover but hate the idea of roughing it, glamping is the answer, and Pure Glamping has five-star tents waiting for you.
Spend the evening under the stars, clinking wine glasses and admiring the sunset over Lake Wivenhoe in the rustic beauty of the raw Australian bush. You’ll wake up to the chorus of native birdsong and – if you’re lucky – spot plenty of wildlife during your stay.
9. Paddle with a picnic
It’s not all adventure sports in Somerset. Take things at a slower pace when you hit the water with just the power of a paddle – and a touch of romance. Watch the sun set behind towering grey gums with the stunning D’Aguilar ranges in the distance and a soundtrack of evening birdsong and wildlife.
On this date with a difference, you and your significant other will paddle for two hours along the Brisbane River before returning to a romantic candlelit picnic set-up, where you’ll watch the sun disappear over a glass of wine.
Dan and his small crew at One Tree Canoe Company want to help people discover a new passion for life on the water and make paddling accessible to everyone. It’s why they offer hire and eco-tourism experiences in the canoes they make by hand right here in Somerset.
Fun fact: If you love paddling so much that you end up buying a canoe, they will plant a tree in your honour!
10. Spot a yowie
Think big furry yowies are just an urban legend? Think again. Australia’s Bigfoot is said to roam the Somerset region and has been spotted hundreds of times since 1979.
If a real-life yowie doesn’t materialise during your time in the area, head to Kilcoy, where a three-metre-tall wooden yowie sits at the centre of the aptly named Yowie Park.
Take a photo with the giant statue and then walk around beautiful Fred Greensill Lake. Visit Thursday to Sunday and the Yowie Coffee kiosk, home to Somerset’s only coffee roaster, will be open to caffeinate your wander.