The weekend is coming and you’re feeling pretty fed up with everyday life. What do you do? Why, plan the most incredible weekend getaway the world has ever seen, of course! If you’ve already covered all the big ones, something fresh is in order.
Luckily, Queensland is jam-packed with secret, under-the-radar getaways just dying to be uncovered. We’re talking private island retreats, eco-friendly rainforest cabins and beachside paradises, all located within this fair Sunshine State of ours.
Ready to get started? Here are eight awesome under-the-radar getaways in Queensland.
What if we told you there was a private tropical island you could rent entirely for yourself? Yup, we’re talking golden sand, turquoise waters and drinks by the sea—all without having to worry about a stranger crashing your vibe. Located 14km off the coast of Yeppoon, Pumpkin Island has five self-catered eco-friendly cottages and two beach bungalows ripe for a vacay. There are no shops or restaurants on the island, so you’ll have to bring your food over with you, but there are kilometres of unspoilt coastline literally at your doorstep with the Great Barrier Reef only a hop, skip and jump away. We’ll start packing our bags.
While the Great Barrier Reef is all well and good, there’s just nothing like a good float down a tropical river to leave you feeling refreshed. Enter Mossman River: a crystal clear river stretching down through the Daintree Rainforest to the wee town of Mossman. Mossman River is rife with natural swimming holes just begging to be explored and while it does take a bit of effort to find, the end result is so worth it. Our recommendation? Book a night (or six) at the oh-so-luxurious Silky Oaks Lodge and then head down to Anich’s Bridge for a prime river swimming spot. Time to show off those killer togs you got for a steal in the winter sales.
Cape Hillsborough National Park
Okay, okay, Queensland doesn’t exactly lack for choice when it comes to natural splendour but Cape Hillsborough National Park takes things to a whole new level. Nestled less than an hour from Mackay, Cape Hillsborough National Park marks the point where rocky cliffs and rainforest-clad hills meet glittering sand. Oh, and did we mention that wild wallabies and kangaroos just happen to love that sand as much as we do? Make a weekend of it and stay in one of the rustic beachside properties studding the park while you set up camp to watch epic sunrises and sunsets.
Perhaps best known as a gateway to the much-raved-about Fraser Island, Rainbow Beach has a charm all of its own. Perfectly situated between Fraser Island, Great Sandy National Park and the beautiful Pacific Ocean, Rainbow Beach ticks all the vacay boxes. Want a weekend with a bit of action? Rainbow Beach has got you covered (horse riding, anyone?). Want to just get away from it all and kick back in nature? Head on up to Double Island Point and you will not be disappointed. And that’s before we even get to the natural attractions like Carlo Sand Blow, Queensland’s very own 'moonscape', Tin Can Bay, the Great Sandy Strait, and the multi-coloured sands that give Rainbow Beach its name. Plus, it’s all only a four-hour drive from the Gold Coast. We’ll see you there!
Push move over Whitehaven, Shaw Island is here with all your uninhabited island needs. We’ve all heard how awesome the Whitsundays are from our lucky co-workers who had the most fabulous holiday last summer (eugh) but the real magic of the area can’t be experienced until you rock up in a private yacht to an uninhabited island. Picture this: exotic birds chirping from native Australian flora, turquoise waters lapping against a white sand beach, and enough scenic walking tracks to sate the most intrepid adventurers thirst. Shaw Island is the perfect escape for when you’re so done with the modern world. Go there, soak up that au naturel Zen, tag us in your photos, watch us cry in jealousy, repeat. You’re welcome, friends.
Neighbour to the World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park, Binna Burra is an immersive romp through nature in its own right and it's right in our backyard! Best experienced from the comfort of your very own sky lodge at Binna Burra Lodge, a weekend spent in Binna Burra is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the Coast. Swap the morning commute for a lazy lie-in overlooking the lush Coomera Valley, enhance your Saturday night Netflix and wine ritual with your very own fireplace or enjoy the perfect base for a weekend of hiking. Whoever said rainforest hangs with the squad wasn’t the best getaway idea ever had clearly never relaxed at Binna Burra. You know what to do, Gold Coast.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Located only a short drive away from gorgeous Maleny, the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve boasts 55 hectares of lush, green hinterland forest positively brimming with life. A number of native flora and fauna thrive at Mary Cairncross, making this little known reserve the perfect spot for anyone wanting to get back in touch with their primal roots. A massive world-class Rainforest Discovery Centre was opened on the reserve in early 2017 with plenty of interactive displays to keep the kids entertained while you pop up to the viewing dock for some killer views over the hinterlands. Our suggestion? Combine a trip to Mary Cairncross with a wander through Montville for the ultimate way to recharge without going completely off the grid.
Nestled between bustling Mudjimba and popular Coolum, Marcoola is your essential Sunshine Coast beach town: totally chilled, with ample selection of eats and beach views to die for. Start your day at one of the gorgeous cafes before hitting the beach and walking all the way to Mudjimba to work off those calories. Then, stop in for a frostie and a bite to eat at the High Tide Bar, Grill & Café in Mudjimba before you walk back to Marcoola with your feet in the ocean. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous after eating your way through Marcoola, you could always drive up to Mount Coolum for some truly spectacular views over the surrounding landscape. Marcoola, you do spoil us.
Want more adventures that are closer to home? How about checking into the best camping spots on and around the Gold Coast.
Image credit: Brooke Darling for The Urban List