In addition to record winter travellers, Stanthorpe has also welcomed the official return of the trademark name Brass Monkey Season to local ownership, with Granite Belt Wine & Tourism gifted the return of the brass monkey name from Toowoomba-based Southern Queensland Country Tourism.

Granite Belt tourism operators have enthusiastically welcomed the return of the ‘Brass Monkey’ both in name and also in the throng of visitors seen this 2020 winter season, marking the highest winter accommodation occupancy rates seen in memory. As the mercury plummeted, the number of visitors soared and Queenslanders exercised their post lock-down travel freedoms with a trip to the Granite Belt.

“Visitors to the wineries, accommodation and tourism spots went from almost zero in April and May to 100 per cent in June and July,” said Martin Cooper, President of Granite Belt Wine & Tourism. “Accommodation occupancy rates are always excellent in our peak winter season, but this year’s demand has been remarkable, with much of the accommodation even booked out mid-week and through to September.

“Visitors to our Granite Belt Wine Country website during June were up 180 per cent on June the previous year and remarkably recently reported a 1030% jump in interest during June for July accommodation bookings in Stanthorpe and Ballandean,” said Mr Cooper.

Stanthorpe district celebrates four seasons, the most popular being Brass Monkey Season during the winter months. Not as crude as it may sound, the origin of the ‘cold enough to freeze the balls of the brass monkey’ saying originates by popular account from an occurrence on sailing ships, where the brass monkey was the name given to a metal rack used to store cannon balls.

The plaque that sits by the little Brass Monkey statue in Stanthorpe’s CBD reads,`In long ago wars artillerymen had a brass plate called a monkey, which sat alongside the canon. The plate held 30 cannonballs stacked pyramid-like, until on freezing nights the monkey would shrink and the balls would fall off, hence the expression ‘cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey’.”

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