Brisbane’s no stranger to stunning spots and hidden gems. But sometimes, to get some true R&R, you need to head out of the city and get your wanderlust on. Unfortunately for most of us, we also have to go to work and that means less time for adventuring. Luckily, we’ve totally got you covered with these under-the-radar destinations that won’t be inundated with tourists and are completely achievable as a day trip. We’ve got everything from Iceland-esque lava flows to underrated hiking trails to a mountaintop café with the best vistas you ever did see. Why yes, we are the best, thank you for noticing.
Got the car already packed? Here’s seven places you won’t believe are near little old Brisbane:
Marcoola Beach, located on the Sunshine Coast, is as close to a private beach as any day tripper could hope for. Situated only a short jaunt north from the more popular, and way more populated, Maroochydore, Marcoola is all about that relaxing beach life. We’re talking pristine white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and a primo selection of foodie hot spots to dive into in-between chilling on the blissfully quiet beach. Local favourite, The Grilled Gecko Café, dishes up organic delights to serve all your post-drive brunch needs. A shout-out must also go to the humble yet mighty Marcoola Bakery, which, to this day, occupies the coveted position of best lamington maker near Brisbane. Trust us, guys, Marcoola is so not messing around. Just don’t forget to pack your comfy pants.
Ravensbourne National Park
Located in a picturesque spot between Toowoomba and Esk, Ravensbourne National Park is a slice of hiking heaven only a few hours from sunny ol’ Brisbane. Ravensbourne boasts four relatively easy walks, ranging from 500 metres to 3.6 kilometres, that will take you through lush rainforest and gurgling creeks. All of which leads you to the stunning Gus Beutel Lookout, offering jaw-dropping panoramic views over the surrounding rolling green hills. Pack your favourite nibbles and lay out your picnic blanket for lunch with a view without the hefty price tag. Sign us the heck up!
Cedar Creek Swimming Holes
The Cedar Creek Swimming Holes are as secret as secret spots get. Nestled at the base of Mt Glorious, past the equally gorgeous Samford, these swimming holes are only a 45-minute drive from the city. Skip the crowded coast and take a dip in these natural, tranquil swimming holes for the ultimate day trip escape. Trust us, a day spent paddling around natural swimming holes is always a good idea. Time to show off the last vestiges of that summer bod, friends.
Glamping On Moreton Island
A little further away from Brisbane than the more popular Stradbroke Island, Moreton Island has its own set of island delights that will make the trip completely worth it. One of them is the chance to go glamping in your own private, beach-facing safari tent, complete with a veranda perfect for kicking back with some beers after a hard day of sun, sand and surf. While you will have to stay overnight to enjoy the full glamping experience, day-trippers also have access to a number of natural splendours on this island that's 98% national park. Think sand boarding, taking a dip in the bubbly champagne pools and hand-feeding wild dolphins at the iconic Tangalooma resort. Give us a second, we just need to pack our bags.
Northern NSW is home to more than a few killer spots, including Kingscliff and Byron Bay, but if mass crowds and car park fighting don’t really sound like your thing, you could always skip the drama and head to Fingal Head instead. While Final Head calls a number of quirky spots home, including the adorable Sheoak Shack Gallery Café, the real stunner is the Giant’s Causeway. A crescent-shaped mass of smooth, black, hexagonal columns juts out of the surf just below the headland and boy does it make for some stunning photos. Oh and did we mention that Fingal Head is the gateway to Cook Island, a small volcanic outcrop that provides a permanent home to green and loggerhead turtles? Yes, you can snorkel with them. Yes, we’ll see you there.
Coochiemudlo Island is the perfect destination for those looking to get out of Brisbane without wandering too far. Located only a ten minute ferry ride from Victoria Point, Coochiemudlo is a secluded and compact sand-fringed island, completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. With only one eatery on the entire island, Coochiemudlo might not exactly be a foodie dream, but it is a great spot for some rest and relaxation while communing with nature. You can easily walk or bike around the whole island, adventuring through sandy beaches, calm blue waters, a melaleuca wetland and a collection of adorable fishermen’s cottages and surf shacks. Plus, you can totally pretend that you own a private island with the lack of other people around. Ah, we can dream.
Pitstop Café On Mt Mee
A Mt Mee to Dayboro road trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the charming Pitstop Café. Situated in a corrugated iron shed atop Mt Mee, Pitstop doesn’t only offer some surprisingly delicious country-style fare but also provides mind-blowing views over south-east Queensland. The café is decorated floor to ceiling with vintage motorcycle and automobile memorabilia, and the black 1960s Falcon out front serves as a great backdrop for your café snaps. Trust us, this one is definitely a treat yo’ self moment and its right on Brisbane’s doorstep.
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Image credit: Brooke Darling