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A Weekend in Esk

  • November 24, 2016
  • By 50 Shades
  • 22 Comments
A Weekend in Esk

When we entered the small township of Esk, in the Brisbane Valley approximately 100 kms north west of Brisbane, we noticed the sign that welcomed us into the town. It read “Picture Esk”! Yes, I guess you could call it that with it’s main street lined with some grandiose old historic buildings, a pretty park, glorious Jacaranda trees in full bloom and with it’s location nestled beneath the magnificent Glen Rock.

Esk was established as a town with the construction of a hotel as far back as 1872 and became a significant settlement during the construction of the Brisbane Valley Railway. As a centre of commercial life the town boasted several large hotels, sawmill, butter factory, saddler and assorted buildings that remain today. This legacy of heritage buildings now houses modern businesses, cafes, antique shops, curio shops and galleries.

Glen Rock - the backdrop to Esk

Glen Rock – the backdrop to Esk

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

The main reason for our visit to Esk was for the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and a 40 km bike ride that explored the disused rail corridor via the towns of Coominya and Toogoolawah. The course for the scenic bike ride wound its way up the Brisbane Valley, traversing farmland, forests, picturesque rural settings and country towns.

Seeking shade on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Bike Ride

Seeking shade on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Bike Ride

The bike ride commenced at the old Esk Railway Station at 7.30am on an extremely hot day where temperatures soared into the mid 30s. Upon reaching Toogoolawah, our half way mark, we were able to stop and rest for a while and take in some refreshments and food that was provided.

Old Railway Bridge on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Old Railway Bridge on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Esk Township

If you take a stroll down the main street of Esk you will discover the many unique gift and antique stores.Plus there are a number of locally owned cafes and restaurants that offer real country hospitality and delicious food.

Esk Antique Centre

Esk Antique Centre

The beautifully restored Guest House – Esk Antique Centre takes pride of place in the town, as does the ornate Lars Andersen House that lives on as Nash Gallery and Cafe. Other historical buildings of note are The Rectory, Esk Post Office and two charming old pubs: Esk Club Hotel and Esk Grand Hotel.

Esk Post Office

Esk Post Office

Club Hotel in Esk

Club Hotel in Esk

The old Esk Railway Station is also worth a visit. It was built in 1886 and today it’s a popular meeting place for groups using the trail, as well as history buffs who like to reminisce about the days when the old steam trains used to pull into the station.

Old Railway Station at Esk

Old Railway Station at Esk

For art lovers drop into the Glen Rock Gallery at the Visitor Information Centre, The Australian Bowl Company studio, Julies at The Rectory or visit the Pillars of Strength in Pipeliner Park. You will also find art, crafts and local produce each Saturday at the markets in the park.

Nash Gallery & Cafe in Esk

Nash Gallery & Cafe in Esk

Interesting fact about Esk: Deer roam in the grazing country north of town, progeny of a small herd presented to the state by Queen Victoria in 1873.

Esk Park

Esk Park

Esk, being ideally located halfway between, is the gateway to large expanses of water of Lake Wivenhoe and Lake Somerset. We decided to drive the loop around both of the lakes, a distance of approximately 80 kms. From Esk you head north on the Brisbane Valley Highway and take a right into the Esk Kilcoy Road until you reach Somerset Village.

Lake Somerset

Lake Somerset

Lake Somerset

A popular water activity playground, Lake Somerset is a mass concrete gravity dam with a gated spillway across the Stanley River which supplies water to households across Brisbane, Logan and the Gold Coast. Day visitors flock to this waterway at The Spit for sailing, fishing, water skiing and jet skiing.

Watercraft on Lake Somerset

Watercraft on Lake Somerset

The Spit at Lake Somerset has great facilities including boat ramps, children’s playgrounds, grassy areas, picnic tables, shelters, free BBQs and a kiosk.

Picnic facilities at Lake Somerset

Picnic facilities at Lake Somerset

Lake Somerset provides camping at Lake Somerset Holiday Park with direct access to the water for boating and fishing or at the pretty Somerset Park Campground on the shores of the Stanley River in Somerset Village.

Mt Glorious

An added option for driving the loop around both lakes is a diversion up the steep windy road to Mt Glorious. Once you depart Lake Somerset on the Wivenhoe Somerset Road you take a left into Mt Glorious Road winding your way up for 27 kms to the village at the summit. Near the summit there is a lookout where you can stop to capture panoramic views back over Brisbane Valley and Lake Wivenhoe.

Views from Mt Glorious over the Brisbane Valley and Lake Wivenhoe

Views from Mt Glorious over the Brisbane Valley and Lake Wivenhoe

Mt Glorious, situated in the D’Aguilar Range north west of Brisbane, features some absolutely breathtaking rainforest, some spectacular forest walks as well as several BBQ areas set in rolling parkland. There are four small cafes and accommodation options of B&B’s and the Mount Glorious Get Away Cottages.

We stopped for a sumptuous BLT sandwich and a cappuccino at the very retro Mount Glorious Cafe, prior to taking the hair-raising descent back down the mountain to Wivenhoe Road.

Retro signage on the Mount Glorious Cafe

Retro signage on the Mount Glorious Cafe

Lake Wivenhoe

As we drove closer to Lake Wivenhoe the skies were getting darker and darker and there was the sound of thunder in the distance. We stopped quickly at the SEQWater Education Centre (on the Esk side of the dam wall) that offers many facilities including toilets, shelter sheds, barbecues, interpretive displays, an information trail and lookout.

Lake Wivenhoe under stormy skies

Lake Wivenhoe under stormy skies

Built in 1984, Wivenhoe Dam’s primary function is to supply water for the region but it has also become a much-loved destination for campers, kayakers and nature lovers. The Wivenhoe Dam is a rock and earth-fill embankment dam with a concrete spillway across the Brisbane River.

Our Lab didn't mind swimming in the storm

Our Lab didn’t mind swimming in the storm

Somerset Region

The Brisbane Valley and Somerset region offers a rich and diverse heritage to enjoy and explore. You can follow the paths of early pioneers who set up supply routes in the Brisbane Valley and visit the heritage buildings and sites throughout the region.  More information on the Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail is available here.

The Somerset Valley’s wine region extends across Somerset from Kilcoy in the north to Coolana in the south with several cellar doors offering wine tastings. The region also boasts a thriving culinary industry where foodies can ramble throughout the villages sampling local specialities such as olives, preserves, pastries, beef, red claw and venison.

Markets in Toogoolawah at the Railway Station after the Bike Ride

Markets in Toogoolawah at the Railway Station after the Bike Ride

Weekend markets are also huge at many of the villages such as Esk, Fernvale, Moore Hall, Coominya, Kilcoy and Toogoolawah Cattle Sales.

How to get to Esk: From Brisbane or the Gold Coast take the Ipswich Motorway past Ipswich and take a right onto the Brisbane Valley Highway. The trip took us approximately two hours from the Gold Coast.

Map of Brisbane Valley

Map of Brisbane Valley

Where We Stayed in Esk: Esk Caravan Park at 26 Hassall Street, Esk with the backdrop of Glen Rock and only a short walking distance from the main street of Esk.

Colourful Lorikeets feasting in the Esk Caravan Park

Colourful Lorikeets feasting in the Esk Caravan Park

It was a wonderful adventure-filled escape to the country for us both to this remarkable region that was only a two hour drive from our home on the Gold Coast. The Somerset Region’s slogan is “Real Country, Real Adventure” and I don’t doubt for a minute that this is true. Esk, being centrally located on the Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail, is the perfect town to use as a base with plenty on offer with great accommodation choices, places to eat and lots of interesting historical buildings, antiques and art galleries to explore. Picture Esk indeed!

This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset. The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

Johanna from Lifestyle Fifty
Deb from Debbish
Min from Write of the Middle.
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
and of course me, Kathy from 50 Shades of Age


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By 50 Shades, November 24, 2016 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 22

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

22 Comments
  • Lyndall @ SeizeTheDayProject
    November 24, 2016

    I haven’t been to Esk yet Kathy, so your post is a lovely introduction to the town. I’ve heard it’s quite pretty and your pics confirm this. I love the Lorikeet’s Bark Pub! :) #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      It is worth a drive out to the Brisbane Valley and Esk to discover the heritage of this area. It was certainly a change from the normal coastal destinations that we tend to gravitate towards. The Lorikeet bark pub was amazing and attracted hundreds of them for happy hour!! :)

  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    November 24, 2016

    What a wonderful way to spend some time. Not sure how I’d go cycling in the heat though LOL Me and the heat do not get along! Esk looks gorgeous. I love country towns and old buildings. I think I’ve been to Lake Somerset and Wivehoe at some point in my past but not for a long, long time! I’m craving a bit of a country escape – a weekend away. Maybe sometime in the new year!

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      It was extremely hot that morning but once you get on your bike it creates a natural breeze as you ride along. Esk was a real eye opener for me because we normally don’t travel inland too much. The lakes were extraordinary and I would recommend seeing where we get out town water supply from. Country escapes are the best sometimes! :)

  • Deborah
    November 24, 2016

    Beautiful pictures Kathy and it looks like a lovely spot – with a lot on offer. I’ve not been there before but love the small town feel. The buildings remind me a little of Childers (just north of me)!

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      Yes I’ve been through Childers a few times and I agree with the types of lovely old buildings being similar. Country towns are sometimes the best for a weekend escape. I highly recommend this area in the Brisbane Valley. :)

  • Sue
    November 24, 2016

    I have been wanting to visit this area for so long Kathy and living in Brisbane there really isn’t any excuse. Esk looks gorgeous and a great chillaxing weekend spot. Thanks for the beautiful photos and information and also for the Life Lovin’ Link up. Have a great week!

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      It is strange how we don’t get out and explore our own backyards sometimes. The drive via Mt Glorious to Esk would be a gorgeous Sunday drive and it is easily doable from Brisbane. I hope you have a wonderful week to! :) #teamlovinlife

  • jodie
    November 24, 2016

    What a fabulous way to see the area!!
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      Yes the bike ride was fabulous and also our drive doing the loop around the two lakes and Mt Glorious was in fact glorious! Thanks for linking up this week Jodie. :) #teamlovinlife

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    November 24, 2016

    Picture-Esk! I love it!

    SSG xxx

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      Yeah pretty clever! It was rather picturesque and a complete change from where I live on the Gold Coast. Thanks for linking up today. :) #teamlovinlife

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    November 24, 2016

    Haha. Picture-esk. LOVE IT!
    I love finding interesting little places like this. Our Tom Tom once took us on the “scenic route” on one of our annual trips to QLD. After much swearing we soon grew to appreciate the picture-esk little places on our new route . Well, I did. The husband continued to swear …

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      Don’t you love it when your GPS takes you on a detour!! The Brisbane Valley and Esk are very scenic and a great place for a Sunday drive or a weekend away from the city. :)

  • Jo
    November 24, 2016

    Mount Glorious – what a lovely name. Esk looks such a pretty and very quaint town. I could see us kicking back at Lake Somerset too. I could also see Dave on his bike doing this route. Bookmarked! Oh, can’t wait to get back over East! #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      November 24, 2016

      Yes Mt Glorious was just that – glorious! We enjoyed our weekend away and the very hot bike ride. I only wish one of those lakes were situated at the end of the bike ride because I would have jumped in! There are just too many places to see in Australia! :)

  • All Around Oz
    November 24, 2016

    Esk looks wonderful. I can definitely see myself wandering around there for a few hours. Gorgeous old buildings!

    • Kathy
      November 25, 2016

      It was a shame it was such a hot day to walk around because I could have definitely spent more time browsing the town. Next time we’ll go in winter! :)

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    November 28, 2016

    PictureEsk, I love it. I also love the photo of the lorikeets!

    • Kathy
      November 28, 2016

      Yes I thought the sign was pretty amusing as well! The Lorikeets were there in their hundreds right on happy hour. I enjoyed our country weekend in Esk. :)

  • budgettraveltalk
    November 28, 2016

    I can see Marty and I eating a devonshire tea on the verandah of the Nash Gallery and Cafe and then I would love to wander through that gorgeous old building housing the Antique Shops.

    • Kathy
      November 28, 2016

      I could see you here too Jan. I had a browse in the Nash Gallery but I didn’t get to see inside the Esk Antique Centre. I had the puppy with me and it was too hot to tie her up outside. Maybe another time. :)

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