Words and pics by John and Jean Mack
Relax and unwind among fields of lavender – a peaceful sleep is pretty much guaranteed.
Read on to learn more about Aloomba Lavender Farm, or click here to find and book accommodation nearby today.
Nestled in the rolling hills of the Queensland and New South Wales border country, 21km east and a little north of Stanthorpe, Qld, is Aloomba Lavender – a commercial lavender, bush camping and cattle property owned by Tere and Peter Bonner.
The Bonner family have strong roots in this district and their heritage stretches back to the 1870s. Lavender is just part of the Bonner family enterprise, which also includes Aloomba Pastoral where some 4000 acres of good cattle country are grazed. The family also provide a variety of other farming services. After retiring from teaching home economics, Tere, known as ‘the Lavender Lady’, decided to commercially develop this uniquely scented alpine plant and established a trial plot in early 1999.
Today, the property is flourishing. A regular stream of visitors arrive to wander around the lavender plantings and browse the lavender-themed gift shop, stocked with quality giftware, much of which is created onsite. Visitors stay to savour the fine coffee and enjoy Devonshire tea with Tere’s famous lavender scones. For those who want to hang around a little longer, there are three very nice B&B-style rooms as well as a pleasant camping area, making this an ideal location from which to explore the many attractions of the surrounding New England
and Granite Belt regions.
While there are many varieties of lavender, only a few are commercially viable for either oil or scented flower production. Lavender has been grown and used since our earliest history as a medicinal plant and aromatic agent, its curative properties being highly regarded. It has been claimed to cure just about anything at some time during history, however, modern science has found that it has both antiseptic and sedative properties. It was used as a disinfecting agent by the Romans in their communal baths and the Victorian ladies hung their laundry on lavender bushes to dry – imbuing them with a soft fragrance.
The commercial species of lavender retain their unique scent longer than any other flowering plant. Lavender products are integrated into an amazing variety of uses – cooking, deodorants, skin and hair care, insect repellents, household polishes and detergents, and cleaning and disinfecting products. The scent alone has calming properties and a few drops of oil on the pillow is said to encourage peaceful sleep.
During harvesting, which is done selectively by hand, the pickings for oil and flower products are done at different stages of maturity of the flower spike. The stems are bunched and hung upside down in the shed to dry. The dried flower buds are stripped from the stems and used in many products sold in the shop. Whole stems for oil production go into the distillation unit from which the end products are the pure essential oil and hydrosol. The latter is the distilled water, aromatics and other astringents extracted from the steam condensate during the distillation process. Historically, hydrosol, which is reputedly a good antiseptic, was the primary product and the oil was discarded; today, both products are in high demand.
Depending on your interests, you can enjoy visiting the local waterfalls, go bushwalking or cycling in the national parks, cast a line or indulge in the interesting wineries and restaurants. It’s a great place to enjoy country hospitality and just chill.
The district boasts some 40 wineries, a range of restaurants, a cheese factory and a boutique chocolate outlet. There is a brewery offering speciality beers and you can also visit the Jamworks, which offers an amazing variety of jams, sauces, pickles and other tasty items, all of which are made in house, many from old family recipes.
You also cannot leave without trying Tere’s famous lavender or plain scones with strawberry jam and cream, accompanied by freshly brewed coffee or tea.
The popular Girraween National Park has some spectacular walks through the pretty, forested granite country and a climb up Bald Rock will definitely help regenerate your lung capacity. Storm King Dam, just south of Stanthorpe, is a well-recognised recreational spot and offers good fishing. All of these attractions lie within a very easy day trip of Aloomba.
The best time to visit the region is during the summer season when Aloomba enjoys cooler temperatures due to its elevation. This, together with minimal humidity and well-drained soils, makes it an excellent site for growing lavender. The winter climate typically produces chilly mornings and bright sunny days. Many locals consider this the best time of year.
This year, Aloomba experienced a rare, 5cm snow fall in mid-winter, the first time snow has fallen here since the mid-80s. This brought many visitors to the area and was a great delight to the local children who had never seen real snow. School attendance plummeted that day!
Staying here during the late November-December harvesting season allows you to enjoy the wonderful fresh lavender aromas while the crop is harvested. The bush camping area is located right alongside the five acres of lavender.
Aloomba Lavender is within easy driving range of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and northern New South Wales.
It is well-signposted and just 25 minutes from Stanthorpe which offers good shopping facilities and has just opened its third supermarket. The road is sealed all the way out to the farm.
From Stanthorpe, cross the border into New South Wales then turn left on to the Mt Lindesay Road. As you continue north you pass through the pretty little village of Liston. Another 4km will bring you to the entrance of Aloomba Lavender.
Here, informality is king; campers can choose their preferred spot to park their rig, anywhere in the large, open, grassed camping area. Just park up your rig, get out the drinks and nibbles, and sit back in your chair to enjoy the scenery and serenity of this pretty spot.
Tallis, the Bonners’ now-ageing kelpie-collie cross working dog, will wander down to greet you and have a sniff to check if any of the nibbles have fallen off the plate! Pets are welcome, but woe betides any dog that chases Tere’s pair of cats – one of which is a large Himalayan breed and skilled rabbit hunter.
This property, licensed for up to 10 sites, is described as ‘bush camping’ as there is limited power available. There are two power poles with a total of five 240V outlets. These power facilities are provided on a first-come, first-served basis and guests are requested to limit their power usage to the essentials. The property runs off rainwater tanks with no access to the town water, so you need to bring your own drinking water. The showers and toilets are close by at the main building complex and the nearest dump point is in the Stanthorpe Showgrounds.
Camp fees are $15 per night or $20 with power.
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