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 from Brisbane. The 57 kilometres (about 35 miles) 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. And 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.
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 like kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing.
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 easily within day-trip range of the capital. The pristine stretch of coastline is blessed with warm water and warmer sunshine 12 months a year, inviting visitors to dive into one of many underwater experiences available. And it’s not just about the beaches, with the impressive Glass House Mountains providing a stunning backdrop to the region, not to mention the network of leafy bushwalks to explore, too; the tracks around the headland in the Noosa National Park are jaw dropping. Oh, and there’s one Sunshine Coast attraction that’s worth a whole day in itself…
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 tragic and untimely death in 2006. This zoo has sustainability and conservation at the core of everything it does, providing a home to 1,000 animals on 100 acres nestled in the scenic Sunshine Coast hinterland. There’s a range of animal encounters and feeding experiences on offer — snap a selfie with everything from lemurs and meerkats to cheetahs and giraffes — and don’t miss the legendary live crocodile feeding show.
This coastal paradise just north of Straddie is a well-trodden day trip from Brisbane, offering heaps of aquatic adventures on the menu. The postcard image of Moreton Island is the Tangalooma Wrecks, a set of 15 ships rusting in crystal clear water that makes for one of the most sparkling 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!