8 weekend getaways from Brisbane, Australia

Many people tend to skip Brisbane when visiting the east coast of Australia, tending to focus their time seeing the sites of Sydney and Melbourne.

But, if you find yourself visiting Brisbane it’s a city on the move and once you have done all there is to do in the city there are some fantastic weekend getaways from Brisbane to some of my favourite places in Australia.

Brisbane might not have the iconic tourist sites of those other east coast cities, but southeast Queensland is a region I highly recommend you explore!

Champagne Pools - one of the best things to do on Fraser Island
Fraser Island – one of the best getaways from Brisbane

8 weekend getaways from Brisbane

1. The Gold Coast

Burleigh Heads National Park, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Burleigh Heads National Park – one of the best getaways from Brisbane

One of the most popular weekend getaways from Brisbane would be to the Gold Coast, a region famous for fun and one of the most visited tourist destinations in Australia. And a great place to live, we currently call Burleigh Heads home!

The Gold Coast region has over 30 kilometres of stunning golden beaches stretching from Coolangatta in the south to Main Beach at Surfers Paradise, with some of the best surfing breaks in the country.

The Goldy attracts visitors all-year-round who come for its great climate and vibrant outdoor lifestyle. Throw in theme parks, an evolving cafe and craft beer scene, nightlife, the stunning hinterland with rainforest walks and waterfalls, parks, and playgrounds, farmers markets, and every watersport imaginable – it truly has something for everyone.

Whilst most people equate the Gold Coast with Surfers Paradise, Surfers has always felt too touristy and tacky for me with a 24/7 party scene and not a lot of community vibe.

Personally, I prefer the beach towns from Burleigh Heads and south towards Coolangatta and Rainbow Bay.

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2. The Sunshine Coast

Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland
Noosa Heads – one of the most popular getaways from Brisbane

Drive 90 minutes north of Brisbane and you’ll find yourself on the Sunshine Coast, another region with some of the best beaches in Australia, and like the Gold Coast, a stunning hinterland.

Mooloolaba is our personal favourite. It’s teaming with chic cafes and restaurants and Mooloolaba Beach, patrolled seven days a week, is a popular spot for swimming and the place to meet with friends and family for coffee, picnics or BBQ’s. And the Mooloolaba Surf Club sits right on the beach.

Noosa, surrounded by river, beach, hinterland, and national park, is one of the most well-known holiday destinations in Queensland.

Main Beach is stunning, and there’s plenty of boutique shopping on Hastings Street, but what I love about Noosa is the coastal walk through Noosa Heads National Park, situated right on the edge of town.

As for the Sunny Coast hinterland, The Glass House Mountains (16 volcanic crags that rise up dramatically from the landscape) are stunning, and the towns of Maleny and Montville are popular for a reason.

Also consider the Noosa Hinterland, a place we recently explored and enjoyed.

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3. Fraser Island

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia
Indian Head lookout on Fraser Island

Who doesn’t love an island getaway? Of course, Australia is one big island in itself so I guess we’re permanently on an island here, but Fraser Island is something special and one of my favourite getaways from Brisbane.

As the world’s largest sand island – stretching 123 km long and 23 km wide – Fraser is a mecca for 4wdriving enthusiasts, in particular, 75 Mile Beach on the eastern side of the island offers coastal four-wheel-driving at it’s best.

But it offers so much more. Besides 75 Mile beach, drive along the sand tracks through towering rainforest, swim in one of the many freshwater lakes like Lake Mackenzie, or take a dip at Champagne Pools or float down Eli Creek.

Visit the shipwreck, spot whales migrating north and wake up to sunrise at Eurong Beach.

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4. Moreton Island

Tangalooma Wrecks, Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia
Kayaking around the Tangalooma Wrecks

Moreton Island is like a mini Fraser Island, another sand island that’s excellent for 4×4 adventure driving, yet it’s easily accessible just off the coast of Brisbane. Take your own vehicle or do a tour with the folks from Sunset Safaris like we did.

You’ve got the four-wheel driving action, camping, fishing, freshwater lakes, a lighthouse, wild dolphin feeding at Tangalooma Resort and snorkelling or kayaking around the Tangalooma wrecks in a unique Transparent Kayak.

And be sure to get amongst the sand dunes and zoom down on a sandboard reaching speeds of up to 40km per hour!

Moreton Island is adventure or relaxation. Either way, you’re surrounded by nature at its best.

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5. The Bunya Mountains

Go hiking in the Bunya Mountains in Queensland, Australia

Queensland is full of surprises.

Bunya Mountain National Park is situated between Kingaroy and Dalby, and is a spectacular wilderness range overlooking the South Burnett region.

The Bunya Mountains are home to the largest stand of ancient bunya pines in the world, there’s lovely walks here, and it’s one of the only places in the Sunshine State to experience a real winter. Yay! A winter weekend getaway from Brisbane!

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6. Hervey Bay

Whale watching in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia

Hervey Bay is a 3.5 hour drive north of Brisbane and is renowned for being the whale watching capital of Australia.

Every year between June and October thousands of humpback whales migrate up and down the east coast of Australia and the protected calm waters of Hervey Bay is a favourite transit stop for them as they rest and play. It’s a spectacular sight!

Besides whales, Hervey Bay is a chilled out place. Enjoy sunset at Enzo’s on the Beach, take a walk along the Esplanade (the 14km long shared pathway stretches from the Urangan Harbour at the eastern end of the city to Gatakers Bay in the west) 

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7. Australia Zoo

Kangaroo at Australia Zoo, Queensland, Australia

Just over an hours drive north of Brisbane, at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, you can spend half a day or a whole day at the home to the late, great Steve Irwin at Australia Zoo, the ultimate wildlife adventure.

Built around the live croc show in the Crocoseum, this show was Steve’s dream, a way to show and educate people about crocs and how they behave in the wild. We’ve seen a few croc shows around the country and this one is still the best.

You can also meet and learn about the who’s who of Aussie and African wildlife, and a visit to the Koala Hospital next door is something I highly recommend.

8. Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach Horse Rides, Queensland, Australia

Rainbow Beach is a small beachside town and is special in more ways than one, being one of the only places in Queensland where you can go horse riding on a beach.

This was a unique family experience for us. We’d ridden horses before along trails, but never along the edge of the surf on a pristine stretch of beach. Rainbow Beach has been featured on the front cover of the 2012 publication of “101 best beaches of Australia”. And the Huffington Post ranked it at number 5 in their article of “Nine of the Most Incredible Beaches in the World”.

To get to Rainbow Beach you can drive for three hours up the M1 motorway via Gympie, or, a more adventurous route for those with a 4×4 vehicle you can take on what I call “Australia’s best shortcut”, the Great Beach Drive starting from Noosa’s North Shore.

Driving along the beach between Teewah and Double Island Point, on one side you have miles of sparkling Pacific Ocean, and on the other the Great Sandy National Park. 

Why take the busy and boring M1 when you can take nature’s expressway?!

Read More on our post on the Great Beach Drive on the Sunshine Coast

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Are you visiting Brisbane on your trip to Australia? Here are 8 getaways from Brisbane once you're done with the city!

Can you suggest any getaways from Brisbane?