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Five Amazing Day Trips From Brisbane

Five Amazing Day Trips From Brisbane

The sprawling city of Brisbane is bordered on all sides by rainforests, beaches, valleys and mountains. No matter how brief your weekend, there are plenty of ways to get away from it all: splash into glistening surf, explore enchanted forests, travel back in time, or even watch the skies for UFOs.

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Mt Tamborine

O'Reilly's skywalk

Head out towards the Gold Coast and veer west to explore the bounties of this volcanic peak, where rich alluvial soils grow all the good stuff. This is the perfect opportunity to turn the GPS off and cruise along this illustrious rainforest drive. Along the main tourist routes, you’ll find a variety of surprising European restaurants (including chalets and “castles”) along one side, and incredible views on the other. Catch a glimpse of hang-gliders diving off roadsides into oblivion, and pull up the car at any number of farmhouse stalls selling honey, avocados, ginger, and greens.

For the brave, there’s Thunderbird Adventure Park, while the rest of us can try to spot the rare and incredible Richmond birdwing butterfly from the Rainforest Skywalk. Craft beer aficionados, don’t miss out on lunch and a tasting paddle at Fortitude Brewing Company, conveniently located opposite Queensland’s weirdest antique shop and cat-spotting location, Turkey Point Trading Post.


Fort Lytton National Park

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Did you know that Brisbane was once defended by its own military fort, complete with moat? Built in the riverside suburb of Lytton in 1880–81, Fort Lytton protected the city and local ports (disappointingly not called Port Fort Lytton) from naval attack until after World War II.

The site is now protected in its turn, with the National Park housing the fort, a military museum, and a spooky Human Quarantine Station. Fort Lytton is the perfect place to turn your weekend up to 11 – the National Park is open on Sundays and public holidays, with free guided tours available.

Image: allbeernskittles / Instagram

North Stradbroke Island

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A traditional holiday fave for Brisbanites, North Stradbroke Island is a ferry-hop across from Cleveland. Half of this island is already a protected national park, with 80 percent to be listed as protected by 2026. North Straddie has everything: pristine beaches for surfing, swimming and snoozing, with the best views in Queensland for land-based whale-watching.

Take the 1.1 kilometre North Gorge walk at Point Lookout to spy humpbacks and dolphins in the ocean beyond. Crossing the water to visit an island makes for a powerful mental shift, allowing you to transform your day off into a holiday in paradise.

Image: Tourism Queensland

Samford

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So close to home there’s no excuse – Samford Village is a historical hamlet set in the Moreton Bay region’s verdant scenic valley, just half an hour’s drive from Brisbane’s CBD. Take a time warp with Samford’s volunteer-run Historical Museum, a much-loved collection of toys, ephemera and remnants of old timey farm life.

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Great Reef Census participant spots a sea turtle, Milln Reef (Image courtesy of Citizens of the GBR)

Across the road is Samford’s famous Flying Nun Café, a zany church converted into a place to worship excellent food and coffee. If you need some mountain air after a morning in the valley, cruise straight up Mount Nebo or Mount Glorious for plenty of lookouts, picnic spots, and giant figs.

Image: The Flying Nun Café / Instagram

Maleny

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An hour and a half’s drive from Brisbane, Maleny could be described as the older, wiser sister of New South Wales’ famous hippie town, Nimbin. Neighbouring the hinterland’s more touristy Montville, Maleny is a laid-back community of eco-conscious cafes, bookshops, galleries, and alternative health spas.

If Agent Mulder inspires your drive, stop off at Maleny’s OZECETI Centre — OZ’s Enlightened Contact with Extra Terrestrial Intelligence — founded in 2013 to raise awareness of UFO activity in the area. Choose something light for lunch at a local cafe, as the afternoon will inevitably take you to Maleny Cheese Factory. If there’s any room left, mosey on to Geordie Lane Antiques and Tea Room for some of the best devonshire tea in Queensland. Finally, it wouldn’t be a hinterland day trip without a nature walk at Mary Cairncross Reserve, home to our smallest variety of wallaby, the pademelon.

Image: Maleny Cheese
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(Lead image: Tourism Queensland)

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