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What took you so long? Global travel bible falls for Scenic Rim's charms

Statewide

The humble Scenic Rim, home to the Gondwana rainforest, great food and a collection of wildlife that people come from half a world away to see, is a secret no more.

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Travel bible Lonely Planet has listed it as one of its hottest global destinations for 2022, a timely bit of luck for a region still recovering from bushfires and the pandemic but no surprise to those who discovered its charms long ago.

This writer has been privileged enough to visit some of the other places on Lonely Planet’s top 10 Best in Travel destinations, and while the jagged beauty of Iceland’s Westfjords will haunt you forever and Canada’s Vancouver Island has a clam chowder that will make you weep with joy, they’re a bit pricey to get to.

The 21 km walk from Binna Burra to O’Reilly’s, however, is free, only a couple of hours’ drive from Brisbane and includes some of the most spectacular rainforest in the world.

“It’s such an untouched and diverse eco-based Australian destination,” said Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeihier.

“From the amazing food and wine to the incredible rainforest and bush walks and memorable places to stay, this is an unexpected pocket of Australia that has it all.”

Too right. It’s also got the best tasting pies in south-east Queensland, at Arthur Clive’s Bakery at Aratula on the Cunningham Highway.

The Scenic Rim Regional Council, an amalgam of some of the old Beaudesert and Boonah shires, has done a good job recently of promoting the local tourism industry that for years was kept in the shadow of the region’s agricultural sector.

Both industries deliver about $466 million a year to the region and the council has been astute at attracting bushfire and pandemic recovery funding to promote the region’s attractions.

That work has paid off with Lonely Planet’s endorsement sure to lift the place from its relative obscurity to a must-visit destination for the world’s travel bunnies.

Mayor Greg Christensen said the region’s recognition was not undeserved.

“This is a region of plenty, of rugged ranges, valleys, winding roads and the most welcoming people in the world,” he said.

“It’s the region of flavour makers, growers, farmers, foodies and taste-chasers, of path-makers and of forward thinking people who have worked to create visitor experiences that are unique, authentic, educational and sustainable, and have persisted during even the most tumultuous and challenging times.”

For the record, the Scenic Rim came eighth in Lonely Planet’s top 10, with the Westfjords taking out first place and others on the list including West Virginia, USA, Xishuangbanna in China, Kent’s Heritage Coast in the UK, Puerto Rico, Shikoku, Japan,  Atacama Desert, Chile, Vancouver Island, Canada and Burgundy in France.

Despite the fact it is currently in lockdown, Auckland was named as Lonely Planet’s top city to visit in 2022, followed by Taipei (Taiwan), Freiburg (Germany), Atlanta (USA), Lagos (Nigeria), Nicosia/Lefkosia (Cyprus), Dublin (Ireland), Merida (Mexico), Florence (Italy) and Gyeongju, (South Korea).

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