Brisbane may not be brimming with city beaches and scenic bushwalks, but there’s a whole lot of great outdoors right on its doorstep. Check out these five weekend trips, all of which are within easy reach of the Queensland capital.
Just an hour’s drive down the M1 from Brisbane, the Goldie offers a smorgasbord of things to see and do on a day trip. The 57km (about 35mi) of golden coastline represent the Gold Coast’s most obvious attraction; Rainbow Bay and Currumbin Creek are great places for a dip and surfers will love the world-class breaks at Snapper Rocks and the Superbank. Kids and kids at heart should make a beeline to the Gold Coast’s raft of amusement parks, specifically Dreamworld, Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild. Head inland for some of Queensland’s most Instagram-worthy terrain, including the lush swimming holes in the Springbrook and Lamington National Parks, the serene Mount Tamborine and the web of walking trails around the Scenic Rim.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Stay within 100m of one the best beaches on the Gold Coast at this two-bed apartment. The soothing neutral colour palette, bespoke furniture and vintage surfing artworks create a stylish setting, and the open-plan living room and kitchen open out onto a sunny balcony. If you have surfboards or sport equipment in tow, there’s storage space and covered parking, and you can make use of two beach cruiser bikes and helmets. Other essentials include beach towels and unlimited Wi-Fi, and there are board games and Netflix on the smart TV to entertain you in the evenings. It’s perfect for families, as Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and the TreeTop Challenge ropes course are just over the road.
North Stradbroke Island
‘Straddie’, as the locals call it, is just a ferry trip from Cleveland in the south of Brisbane, but feels like a tropical island that’s a world away from the Queensland capital. This large sand island is famous for its snow-white beaches, which double as some of the best fishing spots in the state, as well as its abundance of native Australian wildlife: you’ll bump into kangaroos on the North Gorge Walk and koalas around Dulwich and Amity Point. Straddie is also dotted with inland freshwater lakes, such as the tea-tree stained Brown Lake, and offers a stack of great nautical activities such as kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing.
This six-guest house is the most unique rental on Straddie. Contemporary, minimalist and design-led, it has spectacular views over Point Lookout towards Moreton Island, and is surrounded by gum trees frequented by koalas. The large open-plan kitchen and veranda – with Miele cooktop, Smeg stove, dishwasher and Weber barbecue – is the perfect setting for group dinners and DIY sundowners, though there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance, too. The beach is a short drive away. There’s no Wi-Fi and the house is surrounded by extensive bush walking tracks, so you can completely immerse yourself in the island’s natural landscapes.
With Caloundra just an hour and a quarter from the middle of Brisbane and Noosa Heads another half hour up the road, the Sunshine Coast is within easy day trip range of the capital. This pristine stretch of coastline is blessed with warm water and warmer sunshine 12 months a year, inviting visitors to dive into one of the many underwater experiences available. And it’s not just about the beaches: the impressive Glass House Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the region, not to mention the network of leafy bushwalks to explore – the tracks around the headland in the Noosa National Park are jaw-dropping.
After a day out on the spectacular hiking trails of Noosa National Park (a 20-minute drive away), head back to cool off in the heated plunge pool, or cosy up by the fire, at this converted barn. The luxurious hilltop house also has an al fresco cast-iron bathtub where you can soak while keeping an eye out for the kangaroos that sometimes visit the grounds. A huge veranda, complete with a dining table, outdoor sofas and views over the hinterland, runs the length of the building, while inside you’ll find a huge farmhouse-style kitchen and three bedrooms with exposed beams and either queen- or king-size beds.
The home of the crocodile hunter is one of the best ecotourism experiences that the Sunshine Coast has to offer. Located only an hour north of Brisbane, Australia Zoo was founded by Steve Irwin’s parents in 1970, and Irwin’s legacy has lived on, thanks to wife Terri and kids Bob and Bindi, since the Croc Hunter’s untimely death in 2006. This zoo has sustainability and conservation at its core, providing a home to a thousand animals on this large site nestled in the scenic Sunshine Coast hinterland. There’s a range of animal encounters and feeding experiences on offer – you can snap a selfie with everything from lemurs and meerkats to cheetahs and giraffes – and don’t miss the legendary crocodile feeding show.
Perfect for families and groups, this four-bedroom house can comfortably sleep up to 10. It’s only a few minutes’ drive from Australia Zoo, and the private pool – which is surrounded by lush greenery – and barbecue facilities mean there’s plenty more to do back at base. The beaches of the Sunshine Coast are a 20-minute drive away and kids will love toasting s’mores over the firepit in the evenings. There’s a spacious dining area out on the deck and plenty of comfy spots to relax with a book, including a Balinese daybed and a hammock.
This coastal paradise just north of Straddie is a well-trodden day trip from Brisbane, offering heaps of aquatic adventures. The postcard image of Moreton Island is the Tangalooma Wrecks, a set of 15 ships rusting in crystal-clear water that offers one of the best snorkelling sites in the state. There’s the chance to hand-feed dolphins at the Tangalooma Island Resort, or watch whales crawl their way up the humpback highway during winter. Hop behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive and tackle trails on the beach or through the bush, or get the adrenaline pumping with some sand dune tobogganing. That’s an awful lot to squeeze into a cheeky day trip!
Walk right off your private deck and onto the sand at this relaxing two-bedroom beach house. It was built during World War II, making it a fitting setting for history buffs keen to explore the Tangalooma Wrecks while on the island. It’s also one of the most eco-friendly options around, relying completely on solar power and collected rainwater, so if you’d prefer to have creature comforts such as hairdryers and air conditioning, this may not be the stay for you. There are still plenty of mod cons, however, including a fridge and washing machine. There’s no Wi-Fi, but when you can spend your days swimming in the surf and your evenings barbecuing or relaxing around a firepit, who needs it?
Sofia Vyas contributed additional reporting to this article.
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