The Queensland capital Brisbane is perfectly positioned for day trips of every kind.
By Katrina Lobley
Want to get out of town for the day? Brisbane is surrounded by fascinating destinations that offer everything from an old-fashioned beach holiday to grazing kangaroos, hungry dolphins, soaring sand dunes and a touching tribute to the Bee Gees.
Splash down on the Gold Coast
The glitzy Gold Coast, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Brisbane, attracts plenty of pint-sized thrillseekers who have asked their parents to take them to one or more of its theme parks. Take your pick from Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild, or Dreamworld and neighbouring Whitewater World. A different type of thrill is available at the Australian Outback Spectacular, an Australiana-themed dinner and show experience. Want to see how and why Surfers Paradise got its name? Sign up for a surf lesson along the iconic beachfront with Get Wet Surf School before relaxing at one of the Gold Coast's best day spas or restaurants.
Get back to nature on the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast, a one-hour drive north of Brisbane, isn't as brash as its southern sister, the Gold Coast, but its pleasures are just as alluring. The first geographical feature you'll notice is the Glass House Mountains – a collection of volcanic cores that pop up from the surrounding plain. Nearby is Australia Zoo, owned by the family of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. Continue up to the Blackall Range for extraordinary views from Maleny Botanic Gardens, stop for lunch at the Mapleton Tavern and descend to gorgeous Noosa in time for a swim and a coastal stroll through Noosa National Park.
Do some jive talkin' in Redcliffe
Redcliffe, a coastal city between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, has one big musical claim to fame: it’s where the Gibb brothers, of Bee Gees fame, spent part of their childhood in the 1950s and signed their first music contract. The city pays homage to the stars with Bee Gees Way, a 70-metre (230-foot) long multimedia walkway that's free and open day and night. The walkway runs between Sutton Street and the waterfront Redcliffe Parade (stroll along the promenade to enjoy views of Moreton Island). A train line to the Redcliffe Peninsula opened in 2016, making Bee Gees Way easier to access from Brisbane.
Visit a natural playground on Moreton Island
Moreton Island is a favourite day trip for South East Queenslanders. Those who love four wheel driving can ferry their vehicles to the island and explore the bush and beach tracks. Those who prefer modern comforts can head to Tangalooma Island Resort, which offers a variety of activities, including handfeeding wild bottlenose dolphins at dusk. Snorkelling the partially submerged wrecks that lie just offshore, within walking distance of the resort, is also popular. The island is home to an interior desert with soaring sand dunes. Sign up to toboggan the steep dunes, if you dare.
See dugongs and dolphins on Bribie Island
For a beach holiday that's all about the simple things, head to Bribie Island, between Redcliffe and the Sunshine Coast. Bribie is the only Moreton Bay island you can drive to (shuttles operate from Brisbane Airport, or take a bus from Caboolture train station). Pumicestone Passage, which runs between the island and the mainland, is home to dugongs (also known as manatees) that come to feed on the seagrass, as well as dolphins and turtles. Ferryman Cruises offers a range of passage tours while G'day Adventure Tours can take you on a 4WD adventure to spot wildlife before heading inland through forests and wetlands only accessible by 4WD. For surf action, head to the ocean beaches at Woorim.
Say hi to North Stradbroke Island's kangaroos
Don’t be surprised to see kangaroos nibbling the lawns on North Stradbroke Island (simply known as Straddie to Australians). The island, accessed via ferry from Cleveland in Brisbane's southern suburbs, is home to excellent beaches that offer views of neighbouring Moreton Island, interior freshwater lakes and a rich Aboriginal culture. Take a bush walk along the headlands and watch out for migrating whales swimming along the "humpback highway" between late May and early November.
Take a hike around the Scenic Rim
If photogenic mountains are your thing, head to the Scenic Rim in the Gold Coast hinterland. Known as Australia's Green Cauldron, these lush mountains were once a volcanic hotspot. Choose from over a dozen trails that take you to breathtaking lookouts, rock pools and rainforest gorges. Prefer to see the Scenic Rim from the air? Gold Coast-based Hot Air offers hot air balloon rides over the region.