A Taste of the Country at Stockton Rise Country Retreat

You've probably driven past the magical Lockyer Valley hundreds of times as you've traveled down the Warrego Highway...

The sad fact is that many of us don't think to venture off it! As our adventure in the Lockyer Valley has proven there are so many gems to be discovered in the Lockyer. One of those gems is Stockton Rise Country Retreat.

Stockton Rise Country Retreat offers guests their choice of two comfortable self contained homes surrounded by colourful, endless fields of crops. We stayed in the "Stockton Rise"on our visit, the newest home. Stockton Rise Country Retreat is located an hour out of Brisbane in the town of Forest Hill with Laidley, and Gatton close by.

The owners have recently celebrated a huge win taking home the 2014 Lockyer Valley Business Award in the Tourism category. After our brief stay at Stockton Rise we think the win was well deserved!

The homes were well equipped with everything you could possibly need for a magical weekend in the Lockyer Valley. The Stockton Rise was extremely spacious with three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The large deck and verandah of the newly built home is perfect for lounging around, enjoying a BBQ with friends as you take in the uninterrupted view of the sunset. 

Stockton Rise is such a relaxing place. We enjoyed listening to the birds and wildlife that also called the farm home during our stay. It was a nice change from the annoying sounds of suburbia. Even though the bed is extremely comfortable and plush, you'll be tempted to sleep right their on the front deck.

We thoroughly enjoyed our taste of country living at Stockton Rise Country Retreat. For more information on Stockton Rise Country Retreat check out their website (Here).

*AmeriAus was the guest of Lockyer Valley Tourism and Stockton Rise Country Retreat. 

The Banquet You've Been Waiting For! Chow Down | Brisbane Square

Brisbanites- the Year of the Goat is upon us! The Chinese New Year kicks off Thursday, February 19 so that leaves you with only a few more days to find an awesome place to feast...

Tempura Moreton Bay Bugs

Finding a good banquet is hard. It's like finding a life partner. You don't want to rush into things only to realize there was a better option down the road...Lucky for you, the AA team has your back! We are fairly certain (99.9%) that we have found the most kick ass Chinese New Year Banquet in Brisbane. 

Peking Duck Pancakes

It's all happening at Chow Down on February 20. 

Chow Down in Brisbane Square (or Reddacliffe Place) is holding an epic Sea-Duck-tion Chinese New Year Banquet. Three flavour filled courses AND entertainment for only $60.

It promises to be an unforgettable Chinese New Year experience. We were treated to a preview of the menu a week ago and our taste buds definitely haven't forgotten! 

Where do we start....was it the juicy scallop dumplings that filled our tummies with butterflies?

Maybe it was the Tempura bugs in a black bean sauce that made our cheeks flush with red? 

And we can't forget the Deep Fried Baby Snapper...

The sheer joy the Chinese New Year menu at Chow Down brought us is really impossible to describe. So we will let the sensational menu Head chef Tuan created speak for itself:

Chow Down SEA-DUCK-tion Chinese New Year Menu

Prawn and duck spring rolls w/ sweet chilli plum dipping sauce 

Peking Duck pancakes- bbq duck served w/ handmade pancake; hoisin sauce; fresh cucumber and 


Scallop dumplings w/ house made soy sauce 


Deep fried baby snapper with sweet sour sauce 

Tempura bugs w/ black bean sauce on a bed of happy noodles

Vietnamese Duck salad- mix salad, asian herbs, pickled daikon and carrot topped with peanut and 

fried onion 

Combination fried rice -prawn, squid, scallop, chicken


Vietnamese ice coffee panacotta 

Banana and sago pudding topped with crushed peanut 

Now that's a BANQUET! When you pair this fabulous line up with entertainment for the low price of $60 ....this is simply a deal you do not want to miss. 

To book your Chinese New Year Sea-Duck-tion banquet at Chow Down, call 07 3003 1052 now! 

Authentic, Fresh, and Flavourful: Tuckeria Fresh Mexican | Stones Corner

Well folks, we have another contender for 'Best Mex' in Brisbane and it's got our little foodie hearts in a flutter! 

As many of you know, I'm originally from the US (the deep south to be exact). In the South you can find a Mexican restaurant on almost every corner. Southerners are absolutely obsessed with Mexican cuisine....Burritos...Enchiladas....Tacos... Don't even get me started on Queso cheese!

Vegetarian Nachos
So far in our quest for a quality Mexican restaurants in Brisbane we have found some great Australian variations of Mexican cuisine....but nothing incredibly authentic. They didn't have that X factor. That was until we tried Tuckeria Fresh Mexican. 

Tuckeria Fresh Mexican - located in Stones Corner & Fortitude Valley - specializes in Authentic, Fresh, and Flavorful Mexican cuisine. Co owner, Irma Pacheco, grew up in a little town in Meixco before moving to Australia. In fact, she was preparing to head back for a visit when we sat down for a chat a few weeks ago. She has chile powder in her blood. So we knew we were in good hands.

The Stones Corner restaurant is Tuckeria's flagship. All the food is prepared there and then sent out to the Fortitude Valley restaurant fresh each morning. The food is simply sensational and packed full of wonderful flavours. The Chicken Enchilada (below) was easily one of THE BEST we've ever had the pleasure of devouring...

Tuckeria recently celebrated its 5th birthday and owners Jordon Birchell and Irma Pacheco have BIG plans for it's future. Irma gave us a bit of an exclusive on our visit...She divulged that they will be opening their third restaurant later this month in the Brunswick Street Mall!

'Street Burrito by Tuckeria' will open in late February serving quick, street food style Mexican !

Yes!! Soon Brisbanites will be able to quickly grab one of Tuckeria's mouthwatering burritos, tacos, etc on their daily commute. That's lunch sorted! 

For more info on Tuckeria Fresh Mexican check out their website Here.

Tuckeria Fresh Mexican on Urbanspoon

*AmeriAus was the guest of Tuckeria Fresh Mexican. 

A Luxurious Weekend Retreat at Branell Homestead

Sometimes you just need a break.

You need to go some place quiet and breathe...Maybe you're going through a stressful period at work? Or maybe a relaxing vacation is just seriously overdue!? Whatever the reason... we don't always have the time (or money) to hop on a plane to Hawaii. But luckily for those of us who call South East Queensland home, we have a destination just as amazingly picturesque right on our doorstep!

That place is the Lockyer Valley.

From the lush green hills....to soft blue skies....and the seemingly endless fields of colourful crops...this place is the epitome of rest and rejuvination . And let's not forget the awe inspiring backdrop of the Great Dividing range every where you turn.

The view from the cabins at Branell Homestead

It's hard to believe this incredible place is still somewhat of an undiscovered gem when it has so much to offer! I'll admit we too were ignorant to the beauty of the Lockyer Valley. When we told friends and family of our plans to explore the area their first reaction was: What is there to do in the Lockyer Valley?

Before our Lockyer Valley adventure we couldn't answer that question...but now we could rattle on for hours about all the wonderful things you should do and see in the Lockyer. We were fortunate to have the help of the lovely Lockyer Valley tourism team who organized a magical weekend for us.

That weekend began at Branell Homestead.

At Branell Homstead the beautiful simplicity of country life meets luxury. Just an hour out of Brisbane in the little town of Laidley, Branell Homestead sits on 80 acres of unspoiled land. Branell is perfect for people who want a taste of the country paired with the luxury of a high end hotel.

The stunning property features an extensive library, media room, and private jetty where you are more than welcome to catch and cook your own dinner (fishing equipment provided) !

The fabulous library at Branell Homestead; the shelves are filled with great reads

The original B&B has been designed with so much thought and care- a credit to owners. The words "country elegance" come to mind when I think of Branell Homestead. The place is absolutely immaculate.

The luxurious spa bath in the Kensington Suite

It's no wonder its become an extremely popular wedding venue in the Lockyer. In fact, on our visit owner Kathy was preparing for a wedding party. The wedding package offered at Branell Homestead includes two nights of luxury in the gorgeous B&B for you and your guests.

On our visit we stayed in one of the three newly built, modern cabins high on a hill overlooking the valley.

The brand new, well appointed kitchens in the cabins

We certainly weren't complaining...the views were jaw dropping. I don't think my words (or images) could ever do this enchanting place justice.

As soon as I stepped on the deck of our cabin I thought, " I never want to leave this place."

Catch your dinner from the private jetty at Branell Homestead
Not bad for a first timer!
The view of the sunset from our cabin at Branell Homestead

Our host, Kathy, was a true professional. She took excellent care of us- tending to needs before we even realized we had them! As we prepared to leave the following morning we were greeted with a smile and a lovely breakfast hamper (which can be prepared for guests upon request).

Bursting with goodies like danishes, scones, bacon, sausages, toast, jam, eggs, juice, and much more..

Breakfast Hamper

We fried up quite a feast in our well equipped kitchen- a great end to our Branell Homestead experience. Our time at Branell couldn't have been more pleasant. We are already contemplating our next visit. It's simply one of those places you can't forget!

For more information on Branell Homestead, check out their website - HERE 

And for great tips on what to do in the Lockyer Valley, check out the Lockyer Valley Tourism Website - HERE

*Words by Chelsea Hawkins. AmeriAus was the guest of Branell Homestead and Lockyer Valley Tourism.