Brisbane is no stranger to natural splendours and picturesque country villages waiting at the end of spectacular scenic drives, but not all Brisbane road trip destinations are made equal. After all, a road trip can just as easily be a disaster (and a waste of your precious weekend) if you don't put the planning in beforehand.
Luckily, we’ve totally got your back with eight stunning road trips around Brisbane that showcase the natural wonders right on our doorstep. All you have to do is pack the car snacks.
But remember, always be COVID safe and check operator websites for details on opening and closing times before you set off on your adventure.
Beach driving is only the beginning when it comes to the many adventures to be had on Fraser Island with a set of (4WD) wheels. Around a four hour drive from sunny Brisbane via Hervey Bay (a long weekend will come in handy, here), Fraser Island is home to the iconic Maheno Ship Wreck, the vibrantly-coloured Pinnacles and Lake McKenzie, which boasts the same silica sand as Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays. Don’t forget to have a cheeky float down Eli Creek, the largest freshwater stream on the east coast of the island and a popular spot for picnics. Just don’t forget to keep your food locked away from the dingoes; they’re not as cute and cuddly as they look.
The many islands off the coast of SEQ makes for some incredible day trips and none more so arguably than Moreton Island. Just an hour away by ferry the island is almost entirely declared National Park territory, which means it is largely untouched. From pristine blue waters and beaches, lush rainforest, historical lighthouses and famed natural wonders such as Mount Tempest, the worlds largest coastal sand dune structure, and the iconic Tangalooma Wrecks make Moreton Island the perfect day trip or weekend stay-cay for lovers of the outdoors. From scuba diving to snorkelling, sand dune surfing, to dolphin feeding at Tangalooma Resort, hiking tours and four-wheel driving, it's no wonder Moreton Island is widely regarded as Brisbane's favourite stay-cay.
The Lockyer Valley is probably best known as Australia’s salad bowl—it's home to some of the most fertile soil in Australia—but it also boasts some epic natural beauty and a winery or two well worth the visit. Start your journey with a stop at Cunningham’s Crest Lookout and be treated to breathtaking views across Laidley Plains. Now it’s time to sample the local vino at Preston Peak Winery, which also has some truly stunning views of the valley below so you can marvel while you sip. Finally, head on over to Murphy’s Creek Escape and pitch a tent to watch the sunset over true blue Aussie countryside with a homemade platter in hand. What a time to be alive.
The Scenic Rim
Any list of road trips near Brisbane wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the Scenic Rim. Located only an hour’s drive south of the city, this massive area covers everything from lush rainforests, waterfalls and eco-glamping parks. Start with a romp through gorgeous Lamington National Park to set the tone for the rest of the trip, before heading on over to the O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards for a mouth-watering lunch that totally ruins all those calories you just worked off. Next, hop on over to Tamborine Mountain to indulge your spiritual side with a shopping spree amongst many of the town’s bohemian shops and cafes. Finally, make your way to Ketchup’s Bank Glamping, via quaint Boonah, for a back-to-your-roots candlelit dinner while you watch the sunset over rolling plains—all from the private sanctuary of your very own safari-tent-come-glamping-heaven.
North Stradbroke Island
If hitting the beach and getting your hike on sounds more like your thing than heading inland, North Stradbroke Island is only a 45-minute drive away from Brisbane. Highlights of island life include the stunning North Gorge Walk, a 1.2km track that winds around Straddie’s North Gorge Headland and offers spectacular views over the ocean, the tea-stained Brown Lake and Point Lookout, which serves as an excellent spot to watch the yearly humpback whale migration when winter rolls around. The more adventurous weekend wanderers amongst us might also want to take a shot at sand-boarding or go for a bike ride along the crisp white stretches of Straddie’s many beaches. Whatever mode of adventure takes your fancy just make sure that you stop in at the iconic Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel for a beer and parmy to top off your trip.
Montville And The Sunshine Coast Hinterlands
With a population of under 1000 people, Montville is a perfectly quaint gateway to the gorgeous Sunshine Coast Hinterlands area. Combining European-style stores selling a variety of hand-crafted goods with natural splendour aplenty, Montville more than deserves its reputation as the creative soul of the region. Start your day with brunch at one of many of Montville’s premier cafes, before donning your activewear for a hike through Kondalila National Park—home to a beautiful waterfall and rock pools perfect for dipping your feet into. Then, hop in your car and head south to Baroon Pocket Dam, a Canadian-esque lake tucked between Montville and Maleny that will low-key blow your mind.
The Noosa Hinterlands
Affectionately referred to as 'the other hinterlands' the Noosa Hinterlands stretch from Doonan to Eumundi and it houses more than a few local gems. Highlights include Mount Cooroora, a hike definitely not for the faint of heart, Berkelouw Books, where you’ll be encouraged to lay back under a towering tree with your latest literary find, and the tranquil Noosa Botanic Gardens, one of the locals’ best kept secrets. For the foodies among you, the Noosa Hinterlands is basically the result of the Sunshine Coast’s thriving foodie culture moving north and running into contact with down-to-earth country folk. The results are not to be missed.
Leave the bright lights of the city behind and prepare to unwind, the Southern Downs is waiting. Found just 90 minutes from Brisbane, this glorious slice of countryside paradise is teeming with cult-status wineries, breweries and restaurants boasting a vibrant farm-to-table scene. Once you're done devouring all the best local produce and washing it down with a wine (or two), it's time to explore the regions incredible natural splendour. Here you can fill your days with bush walks, discovering hidden swimming holes, and gliding down the creek in a kayak. Pure bliss.
Need more weekend travel inspiration closer to home? Check out these incredible beach towns near Brisbane.
Image credit: Antoine Beauvillan