Brisbane has it all - beautiful metropolitan and amazing nature. Explore both sides of the city and beyond with a guide from a Brisbane native.
By Scott Pass
Brisbane’s rich multicultural history, booming restaurant and bar scene and close proximity to Queensland's top natural attractions makes it an premier spot to explore. I’ve compiled a list of 7 locations to experience in Brisbane and beyond - all within 2.5 hours drive from the heart of the city.
Spreading along the edge of the Brisbane River, Brisbane City offers both nature and culture. Make the most of the summer season by scouting your very own picnic spot and watching the the sun go down on the grassy hills of Southbank and Wilson Outlook. Or you can go to Southbank Beach - a perfect spot to cool off on those hot summer nights.
Head farther East toward Cleveland and Wellington Point to catch a view of Moreton Bay and nearby islands. These beach side locations are perfect for a morning walk or a cup of coffee. If you want some substantial dining, the city boasts a number of world class restaurants and bars offering a multicultural mix of cuisines, all combined with Queensland’s characteristically relaxed vibe.
Considered one of the largest sand islands in the world, Moreton Island is just a 60 minute ferry ride from Brisbane Wharf. The water around the island provides home and an endless food source to a huge number of marine species. Sea turtles, dolphins, whales and dugong inhabit the area and make wonderful sightings for tourists and locals alike.
With fifteen shipwrecks, towering sand dunes, numerous well-defined four wheel drive tracks and a wide variety of accommodation and camping options, Moreton Island should be on the top of your list. The Tangalooma Resort is a perfect place to make the most of the island, offering a newly renovated bar and cafe directly looking out at the beach. It is also one of the few places in Queensland that gives you the clearest view of the sun setting over the water.
North Stradbroke Island
Stradbroke Island has always been the locals’ favourite for its incredible white sand beaches and sheltered alcoves that are perfect for swimming. To get there, you can catch a ferry at Toondah Harbour which is a 40 minute drive from the heart of Brisbane City. If you wish to go back to nature, you’ll be sure to find plenty of powered and unpowered campsites. If it’s luxury and comfort you rather seek, there’s a large number of resorts, apartments and holiday homes at your disposal. Although most of the beaches on Stradbroke Island are virtually people free for most of the year, they can be a little busy during school holidays. So head for Frenchmans Beach and the small hidden pockets of sand near Cylinders Beach to escape the crowds.
Beaches too crowded? Head for rainforests instead. Curtis Falls is particularly great in summer. This picturesque waterfall is tucked away on a short stroll through the forests of Tamborine Mountain, which is a short one hour drive from the centre of Brisbane City. If you want to explore Curtis Falls at night, you might be interested to know that there is a small colony of glow worms at the base. If you’re a little hungry, there are multiple coffee shops and food stalls located just within a short walking distance from the waterfall.
Springbrook National Park
Springbrook National Park is a one hour and twenty five minute drive from Brisbane City and offers you a multitude of hiking trails to explore, not to mention a large number of beautiful waterfalls to photograph. It’s best to visit during the wet season (March - April) as the drive up to the range and into the national park is mesmerising when shrouded with fog.
The two most popular waterfalls in Springbrook are Purling Brook Falls and Twin Falls – both are spectacular after heavy rainfall. Beginning from the Gwongorella picnic area, the walk to Purling Brook Falls will take you forty-five minutes to one hour. You will go through an open eucalyptus forest before descending the steps to get to the base of the Purling Brook Falls. It will take an extra forty-five minutes to explore the entire circuit.
Twin Falls is a much easier hike and yet just as rewarding. Start from either Canyon Lookout or Tallanbana Picnic Ground inside Springbrook National Park. Then follow the trail through the rock caverns and towering ferns then weave through the thick jungle and smaller waterfalls to finally reach the main waterfall. This walk will take approximately fifteen minutes to the base of the falls and another thirty minutes to complete the circuit.
Sunflower fields in Allora
Sunflowers upon sunflowers are exactly what you’ll find when visiting the towns of Allora, Toowoomba and Warwick during the summer months. These country towns are some of the more lengthy drives from Brisbane but they won’t take more than two and a half hours from the city.
Sunflowers are not rare per se, but being amongst endless fields of them is a once in a lifetime experience. For the best view of the sunflowers, visit during late December and January when they’re in full bloom. There are plenty of locations to stop roadside and admire these towering plants, just be careful to treat the soil and crops with care as the farmers here depend on them for a living.
Considered the toughest hike in Queensland, Mount Barney towers at 1359 metres and proves especially challenging even for seasoned climbers. The notoriously steep and harsh terrain makes it the ultimate summit among experienced and determined hikers. But never fear even if you’re not one. There are smaller, less strenuous hikes spread throughout Mount Barney National Park together with a variety of outdoor walks for you to enjoy. Also, sprawling along Mount Barney are some of the most incredible rolling hills. You should tackle these grass covered hills during the winter months as the weather can change drastically during spring and summer. But regardless, it’s always essential to arrive well equipped and prepared.
More from Townske
5 unique locations to visit along the Great Ocean Road