The capital of the state of Queensland, Brisbane, is not only the closest destination for international travelers to Australia, it is also a great hub to start from for many Australian experiences. The third-largest city in Australia offers you a vibrant, laid back and friendly atmosphere, combined with flourishing restaurants, shops, bars, nature and a vivid cultural scene. And just a short drive from the busy city you will find majestic mountains, stunning beaches and relaxing nature.
How to get there?
Brisbane Airport is the primary international airport serving Brisbane and South East Queensland. Of course you can also reach the city by train or bus.
Out of the many attractions in Brisbane we really enjoyed walking around South Banks and West End. Both parts of the city have lots of nice shops, bars an restaurants to offer and at South Banks you can even go for a swim at the artificial beach aka Streets Beach. If you are looking for a highlight outside the busy city we can recommend the Glass House Mountains (9 mountains ranging from 220 m to 556 m in height) which are only 31 km from Brisbane (approx. 30 min drive north).
How long to stay?
We stayed for two nights in Brisbane which left us only one day to explore the city. This is definitely not enough. Therefore we would recommend to stay at least for 3-4 nights. This way you will be able to explore and enjoy more. We luckily picked up a campervan after our short stay, so we could “come back” and see more, but if you consider your visit in Brisbane as a citytrip, you might want to add more time than we had.
Where to stay?
We stayed in a very nice Airbnb in Milton. The price was reasonable here and we could still easily walk to South Banks, catch a bus or a river ferry. Compared to other big Australian cities, Brisbane is a relatively compact city, where most of the main attractions are located within a 2 km radius of the CBD. The Central Business District (CBD) has accommodation which caters to all tastes and budgets. Here you are in the heart of everything.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Hand-feed kangaroos, cuddle a koala, observe a platypus, and watch animal shows that feature sheepdogs and birds of prey. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a great experience for animal lovers and for an introduction to Australian wildlife. Kangaroo Point Kangaroo Point is a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, located directly east across the Brisbane River from the Brisbane central business district. It features two prominent attractions: The Story Bridge and the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, which give you great views of the city. Bribie Island One hour north of Brisbane, you will find Bribie Island National Park and Recreation Area. It is a great place to replace the city bustle with an island paradise, complete with stretches of white sandy beaches, azure waters and stunning wildlife. There also a couple of leisurely walks to discover Bribie Island’s relaxed natural beauty:
Bicentennial bushwalks (a selection of easy-grade walks beginning near the Community Arts Center on Sunderland Drive), Banksia Bicentennial bushwalk (beginning near the waterhole, stroll through wallum heathland species, including grass trees and banksias, 500 m, 15 min), Palm Grove Bicentennial bushwalk (enter a slice of paradise where cabbage tree palms and tassel cord-rushes fringe the walking tracks, 1.3 km, 1 hour), Melaleuca Bicentennial bushwalk (wander through a paperbark wetland and bloodwood forest with vanilla lilies, wallum wedge pea and grass trees scattered in the understorey, 1.5 km, 70 min) and the Buckley’s Hole Environmental Park (this park can be accessed by a track leading from The Boulevard, near the park sign, over 170 birds species have been recorded in this area, you can enjoy a nice walk along the beach around South Point to Red Beach, returning via Red Beach Track & Tully St., round trip 90 min).
Blast Aqua Park Coolum Just in case you need some fun in the water, we can highly recommend to visit the Blast Aqua Park. This aquatic playground covers a huge area, roughly 100 meters by 70 meters, and boasts a wide array of inflatable fun items for everyone’s enjoyment, suitable for ages from 6 all the way up to the elderly. You can visit for just a few hours or spent the whole day there. On shore the park provides free BBQ areas, picnic benches and sunloungers, as well as a small swimming area. Moreton Bay The Moreton Bay region is located just north of the Queensland capital, Brisbane and immediately south of the Sunshine Coast. Get in touch with the local wildlife or go wild yourself in the natural playground that is the Moreton Bay region. Take a drive along the mountain roads that snake through dense forest, stopping off at a boutique winery along the way. Or head seaward for dolphin-spotting and lazy evenings spent by the water.
Moreton Island Just 25km off Brisbane’s shore is the third largest sand island in the world. Crystal-clear lakes and lagoons exist among tall sand dunes, abundant wildflowers and pristine beaches. Hand feed wild dolphins, and dive or snorkel among mysterious wrecks and pristine waters, or watch silhouettes of fishermen casting their lines in lingering twilight. The adventurous can try quad biking, four-wheel-driving or sand tobogganing. Chances are you’ll want to extend your stay at the resort or pitch a tent for the night.
Stradbroke Island Leave busy Brisbane for a trip that showcases the natural beauty of North Stradbroke Island. Swim in the surf or freshwater lakes, take a short guided hike, view whales and other marine animals from the beach and coastal lookouts, visit small towns including historic Dunwich and Amity, and go in search of the island’s population of wild kangaroos and koalas. Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve We were lucky enough to not miss this jewel of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is located close to Maleny and comprises 55 hectares of National Estate listed subtropical rainforest overlooking the Glass House Mountains. A remnant of the Blackall Range, the Reserve is a living museum of diverse plant and animal life which delights with its tranquility and beauty. When we were there in April 2017, they had just opened a new education centre with a lot of information about the rainforest, its inhabitants and the Reserves cultural and natural history. You will also find about 2 km of walking tracks within the subtropical rainforest. Sunshine Coast The Sunshine Coast sure will give you a big sunny welcome. It is a region rich in diversity, and exactly that is what makes it so special. The region is tucked between Brisbane and Fraser Island and offers a unique blend of relaxed beach lifestyle and hinterland charm. From the majestic Glass House Mountains to Noosa and the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach, the region includes 100 km of pristine sandy beaches, surrounded by the quiet beauty of coastal and hinterland villages, subtropical rainforests and majestic mountains. However, the most distinctive thing about the Sunshine Coast is the people. It is a place where you will feel like a local from the moment you arrive. And it seems there is no shortage of friendly people with easy smiles – which is no suprise, as the region enjoys a subtropical climeate with plenty of warmth. In fact an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland Here you will find the famous Glass House Mountains, lush rainforests and lots of natural beauty and serenity. Explore charming villages and towns like Eumundi, Kenilworth, Maleny, Montville, Nambour, Pomona and Yandina. Each with their own unique characters.
Caloundra to Kawana This area, which is surrounded by a mix of calm water beaches as well as great surf beaches, is known for being one of the Sunshine Coast’s most relaxed and authentic beach destinations. Enjoy the turquoise waters of Bulcock Beach, Dicky Beach, Point Cartwright and Shelly Beach. The pristine Pumicestone Passage, with views of the Glass House Mountains, dominates the Caloundra landscape.
Mooloolaba to Coolum Beach This is one of Australia’s most vibrant and exciting stretches of coastline. This central area (from Mooloolaba north to Coolum Beach, with Maroochydore at its core) is the hub of the Sunshine Coast. It is known for its clean waterways, stunning swimming beaches and great dining. Other favorite spots are Alexandra Headland, Cotton Tree, Marcoola and Mudjimba.
Noosa and surrounds Blend nature at its most unspoiled with culture at its most refined, and you have the rarity that is Noosa and surrounds. The Noosa National Park is fringed by stunning coastline, including picture-perfect coves and inlets where you can have the ocean all to yourself.
Gympie to Rainbow Beach From its white beaches to majestic hinterland and heritage towns, this area features national parks and rainforest by the beach, a stunning coastline and the Great Sandy Biosphere. Just an hour drive nort of Noosa you will reach Gympie, the golden gateway that leads to Rainbow Beach, Tin Can Bay, the Mary Valley and Fraser Island.