40 Best Destinations in South East Queensland to Visit by Public Transportation

40 Best Destinations in South East Queensland to Visit by Public Transportation


Posted 2024-06-07 by Roy Chambersfollow

Train, Bus or Ferry your way to great attractions, activities and adventure

There are lots of amazing places to visit around South East Queensland, but for people without a car, the options are a little limited. I have previously listed the 40 Best Day Trip Destinations , but most of those required a car to get to. For those without a car or who would prefer to relax and not drive, here are the best spots in South East Queensland, from beaches to country towns, that you can get to easily on a bus, train or ferry.

You can take train, bus and ferry to lots of great destinations & attractions around South East Queensland

The attractions and destinations here are tourist or family-focused locations. Maybe not everything here is going to be at the top of visitors to the area's to-do lists, but they can be an interesting trip if you live in the region and don't have a car to get to other spots.

Overall I have focused on destinations that are part of the Translink Network which you can access using a GoCard, and in the near future, your phone, or debit or credit card. But down the end of the list are some places that are outside of the network. I also focused on places with very little walking to get to the destination other than those which are hikes so the walking shouldn't matter. Yes, you can't get everywhere, but you can get to a lot of interesting places.

1. Brisbane City Centre

Let's start with the obvious places first which can be good for new arrivals and tourists. If you are looking for something different, then head further down the list. The Brisbane City Centre is often best visited by public transportation, especially on weekdays. First impressions can be a bit off-putting, but you need to know what you are looking for.

Brisbane City at Night

Yes, there is shopping, with a lot of high-end brands only found in the city centre. Dining is good, including weekday lunch specials, as well as a range of high-end restaurants especially as you get away from the Queen Street Mall in the direction of the City Botanic Gardens. But there are plenty of other things to do, including the Brisbane Museum, Strike Bowling and Laser Tag, the Casino and even escape rooms. Let's not forget the City Botanic Gardens as well.

2. South Bank, Cultural Centre & South Brisbane

South Bank is the standard against which all other urban renewal projects are judged in Brisbane. With the Cultural Centre on one side, you have 2 art galleries, a museum and the State Library of Queensland. Next to that in South Bank itself, there is QPAC with multiple theatre and performance spaces.

In the Cultural Precinct at South Bank

In South Bank itself, the artificially constructed rainforest, and artificial beach is popular among locals and tourists alike. The restaurants tend to be a little pricey and sometimes a bit generic, but again, popular with tourists and locals. If you don't like them, you can always wander up to West End for cooler bars and cafes. South Bank hosts weekend tourist-focused markets and a constant list of free and paid events in various spaces. At the far end is the Maritime Museum and if you keep walking, the beautiful Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

3. Gold Coast Beaches

With 40 kms of beaches that , with the exception of The Spit and the northern part of Main Beach, are well serviced with public transport including a tram and buses, the coast of the Gold Coast is one of the best places to visit by public transportation. This also includes the Broadwater area as well which is where the Nerang River reaches the ocean. Plus there is the Federation Walk cycling and hiking track that leads from Main Beach out to The Spit.

Sand, sea & city at the Gold Coast

Some highlights include, paddling with your kids in the calm waters at Broadwater Park, the touristy hustle of Surfers Paradise, the nearby chill and great shopping of Broadbeach, the cool cafes and national park walking tracks of Burleigh Beach and Burleigh Heads, the relaxed quiet beaches like Mermaid and Tugun, or the family-friendly second city centre at Coolangatta. There are restaurants and shops spread all along the coast by the highway, as well as little parks, hotels, motels, and markets at various places and times. Sometimes people tell me that they don't like the Gold Coast, but you quickly learn that they went there once and didn't like the one spot they visited. Most people are guaranteed to find a spot they like if they visit more places there, which is easy to do with public transportation.

4. Sunshine Coast Beaches

If the Gold Coast doesn't appeal to you, then there is always the Sunshine Coast. The government keeps talking about building a rail link directly to the beaches, and if that happens and you are reading this, hello to you in the future, I hope the whole flying car thing also worked out to be viable as well by the time you are reading this. Anyway, normally you have to take a train and then transfer to a bus. Once on the beaches, you can usually get between any 2 beaches with 1 or 2 buses.

On the beach at the Sunshine Coast

Highlights of the beaches include the beaches of Caloundra, which are not technically part of the Sunshine Coast because they are in a different council area, Mooloolaba which is very nice, with lots of great seafood and is the commercial heart of the Sunshine Coast, and then further north to the long stretches of quiet beaches, with Cotton Tree Beach being a favourite with young kids as it is on an inlet. On weekends you can still find the party on at various places on the Sunshine Coast, and there are lots of markets as well.

5. Ipswich

Not that long ago Ipswich was talked about as a growing place, and in some ways, it is still pretty cool. It is an easy train ride from Brisbane, and there are cafes and bars not far from the train station. One of the best things about Ipswich is that it is a well-preserved example of a successful country town without having to go into the countryside. Along with wandering around the town centre, you can visit the Ipswich Art Gallery.

A short walk away is Queens Park, which includes the Nature Centre and Japanese Gardens. On the other side of the river is the Queensland Museum Rail Workshops which is a favourite of families. You can also walk along part of the Brassall Bikeway not far from there. After extensive work, the River Heart Parklands by the river right near the train station is open again and is a lovely place to walk.

6. Fortitude Valley

Known as Brisbane's party heart, Fortitude Valley is filled with pubs, bars and clubs. as well as a wide range of cafes and restaurants. Some of the cultural soul of The Valley has gone as the old Chinatown has lost most of its shops, but it is still there to some extent. Bars and clubs get pretty creative to attract patrons, including B. Lucky & Sons if you like to play arcade games while you drink, Oche, if you enjoy a game of darts while you drink, or Holey Moley if you like to play indoor putt putt golf while you drink. Don't forget that there is live music, shows and events on every weekend in the precinct.

At a bar in Fortitude Valley

It is also a good idea to explore beyond Brunswick Street. Head on down to James Street for very upscale restaurants. Go in the opposite direction towards Bowen Hills and you will find an increasing number of bars and restaurants in this refurbished area, and it is where you will find the less slick but still trendy places.

7. Gatton

Lockyer Valley is a wonderful place to visit just west of Brisbane, but you can only get so far by public transportation. But the buses go out as far as Gatton, passing through places like Forest Hill and other small villages. The main thing to do in Gatton is to visit the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre which has an art gallery and the Queensland Transport Museum. Behind the centre is Lake Apex Park which is great for picnics, barbecues, weddings and just relaxing.

Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre in Gatton

I am putting Gatton on this list just to show how far you can get on a Translink Bus. But one thing you can do in Gatton is visit on a race day at the Gatton Turf Club. There is nothing quite like the experience of the country races. Also, get some good country cuisine food while you are in Gatton or on a stop like Forest Hill.

8. Mt Coot-tha

Mt Coot-tha is one of Brisbane's best tourist attractions. There are lots of ways to visit the mountain by public transportation. The most common is to take the bus up to the summit where there are views and a cafe. Many people also do one of the walks at the summit as well.

Enjoying the view from the Summit at Mt Coot-tha

However, hikers can find lots of other ways to visit the mountains. You can take a bus to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, walk through the gardens and up the Spotted Gum Trail to the Summit. You can also take a bus to the start of the Honeyeater Trail and walk up that way. it is also possible to take a bus to the far side of the mountain, hike up to Simpsons Falls and then take one of the trails that leads to the Summit, maybe stopping at the Gold Mine or JC Slaughter Falls. Of course, you can then go back down the mountain by bus from the Summit.

9. Sandgate & Shorncliffe

Heading to the seaside by public transportation isn't that hard in Brisbane. One of the nicest places to visit by train or bus is Sandgate , along with the neighbouring beach of Shorncliffe which has its own train station. Sandgate is a lovely little village with some nice restaurants and cool bars. The Sandgate Town Hall also hosts a number of events.

Walking along the Sandgate foreshore in the direction of Shorncliffe

Down on the beach, Sandgate is mostly mudflats, which makes it a great place for walking and popular among kite surfers. But it is a short walk to the more interesting Shorncliffe with Shorncliffe Pier which is great for fishing, a small beach good for swimming at high tide, and cliffs you can walk beneath or across the top of. People who want a longer walk can go in the opposite direction towards Brighton Beach.

10. HOTA: Home Of The Arts on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast's Home of the Arts, also known as HOTA, is easily reached by bus and even by ferry, though the ferry is not part of the Translink network. It features an interesting multistory gallery, though the most popular thing to see at the gallery is the view of the Gold Coast from the viewing floor. There is also multiple performance spaces of different sizes, including an outdoor stage.

Enjoying the view from the viewing gallery on top of the HOTA Art Gallery

HOTA is set on parkland, which includes a lake that is popular to picnic beside or have a swim. It is a lovely spot to walk around and there are numerous sculptures scattered across the grounds. On Sundays, they host a popular market.

11. Brisbane River

Brisbane is known as the river city, which makes the river a destination in its own right. The cheapest and best way to enjoy the river is on a ferry. Now for most tourists, jumping on the little red ferry, officially called the city hopper, is the way to go, as it services the key inner city areas. From this ferry, you can see some of the most interesting sights on the river, including the Story Bridge, Kangaroo Point Cliffs, the City and South Bank. Better yet it is free.

Brisbane River Ferry at Sunset

For a longer trip, you can take the ferry all the way up to the University of Queensland and all the way down to North Shore Hamilton. Both are attractions in their own right and I have listed them in this article, as well as some other interesting spots on the river. I would say travelling from the City down river is more interesting, and you will pass New Farm and the Brisbane Powerhouse, the old Wool Stores, and Newstead House as you head down river. Travelling in the other direction, I mostly like the nice houses by the river in Highgate Hill.

12. Mt Ngungun in the Glass House Mountains

The Glass House Mountains is a cluster of 13 hills formed from the lava cores of long-extinct volcanoes. They are so long extinct that most of the outer layers have been worn down over 26 million years to leave the inner volcanic cores exposed on some of the hills. If you take the train to the Sunshine Coast you can see the hills as you pass, but getting to them is not too easy. Mt Ngungun, pronounced Noo Noo, is the most popular to visit and is reasonably easy to get to by public transportation.

View from Mt Ngungun

Take the train to the Glass House Mountains Station and it is a 2.6 km walk down the road to the start of the hiking track, then 2.8 kms return up and down the hill. The walk is not that hard though there are lots of steps to get to the top. It is well worth the effort though for the view.

13. Wynnum & Manly

The pair of seaside suburbs in Brisbane is Wynnum and Manly are a popular spot for visitors, with each suburb having a different appeal. The train goes to both places so you can choose to visit both, and when going by public transportation you can start at one and walk along the coast to the other.

Wynnum wading pool

Starting at the north, Wynnum has the Mangrove Boardwalk, which is a nice enough place to visit, but not the best mangrove walk in Brisbane. There is the Wynnum Jetty which is good for fishing. You can swim at the small Pandanus Beach at high tide on one side of the jetty or wade in salt water wading pool on the other side. In Manly, the park hosts markets on both Saturdays and Sundays, and at and near the Manly Boat Harbour there are plenty of nice places to eat, including the famous Manly Boathouse.

14. Lake Enoggera & Walkabout Creek

Once part of Brisbane's water supply, Lake Enoggera is now a wonderful recreational reserve. Getting there by bus means getting off at The Gap Park'n'Ride and walking a short distance. If you were to drive you usually have to park at the Park'n'Ride anyway because unless you arrive early most parking spots are already taken.

Lake Enoggera

The Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre has a cafe and a small zoo. Nearby you can hire kayaks and paddleboards as well as swim at the lake. The short Araucaria Track is worth doing, but the circuit of the lake, which is about 12 kms, is more fun though it is not signed, so you have to be careful when you do this not to get onto the wrong track. You can even use the Discovery Centre as a starting point to hike up Mt Nebo, and there is a remote bush camping site about 15 kms walk up the road. The trails are also suitable for mountain bikers.

15. Gold Coast Theme Parks

Many tourists just go to the Gold Coast for the theme parks while many locals get passes so that they can take their kids back over many months. They are all accessible easily by public transportation. Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World can be accessed by buses that leave next to the Broadbeach tram stop and from the Helensvale Train Station. Seaworld is on the Southport Spit and can be reached by buses that head there from Surfers Paradise, as well as the Hop On Hop Off Gold Coast Ferry.

For tourists, this makes life a lot easier and for locals without a car it makes sense. But with free parking, it can be easier to just drive. But it is good to know that there is the option to just rest on the train on the way to the Gold Coast and bus it to your favourite theme park.

16. Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Rail trails are great in that they turn the old rail lines into cycling and walking tracks that link multiple towns and villages. The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is 161 kms long, and people both hike and cycle it. What is more, it is well connected by public transportation.

On the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

For the cyclist, they can take their bicycle on the train to Ipswich and cycle from there. This is good for a short there and back run as well as the end point for multi-day cycles. About half of the trail is connected by Translink buses. They operate coach-style buses so you should be able to put your bicycle on the bus with you in the luggage compartment, but I can't find official information up-to-date information on this though. The rest of the trail is serviced by long-distance coaches which cost more than the Translink buses. Basically, you can take a backpack or bicycle and head off to a spot on the trail, and make your way back to Ipswich or maybe give up and take a bus home at some point.

16. Redcliffe

The suburb of Redcliffe as well as the whole Redcliffe Peninsula is a very popular place to visit, especially on weekends. Redcliffe itself is famous for its strip of restaurants along the foreshore as well as additional restaurants in the street behind it. As the world-famous band the Bee Gees grew up in Redcliffe, they have Bee Gee Way, a small street dedicated to the band. There is the jetty, which is a popular place to both fish and go swimming. There is an artificial lagoon popular with families to swim in and barbecue around, but you can also swim at Suttons Beach.

Suttons Beach at Redcliffe at Night

Beyond the Redcliffe Beachfront, there is a walkway/cycleway going north to Scarborough and south down to Woody Point. There is also the lovely Margate Beach as well. In Redcliffe, non-beachside attractions include an art gallery and a museum. Getting to Redcliffe is not that hard, with buses that run from Sandgate stopping at Woody Point, Margate and ending at Redcliffe, and there is now a train that stops in Kippa-Ring and buses that continue on to Redcliffe.

18. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Brisbane's best zoo is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Like Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, it is focused on native animals and is a popular spot for tourists and local families. Lone Pine wins on the number of koalas living there, and also they have platypuses which Currumbin doesn't. It is smaller than Currumbin though, which can be a plus or a minus, depending on what you want to do and see, with kids generally preferring a large space to run around.

Now the touristy way to get to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is to take the river cruise, where you will learn a fair amount about the river sites and native wildlife while you head there. But if you don't want to do the cruise, or want to save money then there are buses to Lone Pine.

19. Bribie Island

Bribie island is South East Queensland's most accessible island as they have a bridge. To get there by public transportation you take the train to Caboolture Station and then the bus to Bribie Island. The bus stops at Bongaree on Pumicestone Passage and Woorim Beach on the other side of the island. The bus also stops at the wonderful Sandstone Point Hotel on the mainland which is worth visiting at any time, especially when they have events on the grounds.

Walking on Red Beach on Brisbane Island

There is a lot to do on the island, including hiring kayaks and boats to travel around Pumicestone Passage, fishing from the peer, visiting the museum and art gallery, or walking the 8 kms from Bongaree to Woorim along the southern end of the Island from where you can take the bus back. There is also a fair amount of good food as well.

20. University of Queensland

At the upper end of the ferry route on Brisbane River is the University of Queensland. Yes, you can take a bus, but it is much more interesting to take the ferry. You will be surprised how much there is to do at the University. Just walking around the campus is interesting. There is the old main sandstone building, the lakes area, and when it is Jacaranda season, the trees are in full bloom around the lakes.

Jacaranda season at the University of Queensland

But there are some special attractions at the university, including several specialist museums - the Anthropology Museum being the standout, and a very interesting art gallery that displays works in a educational manner. Of course, you can go there to eat in their cafes and restaurants, swim in the pool, or use other sports facilities, and I have often been there to play tennis.

21. Noosa Heads National Park

When looking for a great hike to do that is accessible by public transportation then one that people often ignore is Noosa Heads National Park . The bus drops you at Noosa Main Beach 1.3 kms from the start of the hike. You can also access the National Park from the south at Sunshine Beach and then walk about 650 metres from the bus stop, depending on where you want to access the park.

The Coastal Walk at Noosa Heads National Park

The most popular walk in the National Park is the 10 km return Coastal Walk, but from Noosa, most people will do a loop that follows the Tanglewood Track inland. Keep a lookout for koalas in the trees in this national park as they are often easy to spot here. Of course, if you plan to use public transportation, you can start at Sunshine Beach and walk along the coast to Noosa. Be aware that Alexandria Bay is an unofficial nudist beach, so keep a lookout for things from which you may want to avert your gaze.

22. Beenleigh Historical Village & Museum

Beenleigh Historical Village is a great little family excursion as well as something that tourists who are interested in Australian history can enjoy as well. The village includes multiple buildings, including farmsteads, a small traditional school, old council chambers, smaller settlers and workers cottages, a dairy and a machinery shed. Many of these buildings are authentic and have been moved to the Village. Both paid staff and volunteers dress traditionally and add a bit of colour to the experience. There is also a cafe, art gallery and museum on the site. Check out their website for various events.

It is easy enough to take the train to Beenleigh, but it is 1.4 km walk to the Historical Village, so taking the bus is better as it stops much closer. Overall, it is a cheap and interesting experience, though more suitable as a place to take your younger kids and best avoided if you have non-historically minded teenagers.

23. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

There is a lot of discussion about which Australian zoo is the best, or even which zoo in South East Queensland is the best. But for Australian wildlife undoubtedly the best in South East Queensland and one of the best in Australia is the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. It is also easily reached by bus with buses that run along Gold Coast's beaches diverting off the highway to stop in front of this zoo.

At the Sanctuary, there is more than just the zoo, as there is also The Tree Top Challenge as well. Basically get strung up to safety harnesses and safely navigate obstacle courses high up in the trees. If that isn't enough, it is right next to Currumbin Beach for swimming, and then 1 km down the beach, you get to Currumbin Creek, which is good for little kids as well as kayaking and paddleboards.

24. Mt Beerburrum & the Yul-yan-man Track in the Glass House Mountains

While Mt Ngungun is usually number one on people's spots to visit in the Glass House Mountains , going to Beerburrum provides an easier way and also access to the more challenging Yul-yan-man Track hike. So to get to both, take the train to Beerburrum Station. From there it is a fairly short walk to the start of the Beerburrum 3.5 km return hike to the top of that hill with views of the Glass House Mountains. There is a cafe near the start of the hike if you are looking for something to eat or drink.

On the Yul-yan-man track in the Glass House Mountains

But you also get access to the Yul-yan-man track which includes a fair amount of scrambling, but you get great views of the Glass House Mountains. The track normally returns via the Soldier Settlers Trail for an 8 km walk. But both tracks link to the 5.7 km Trachyte Circuit that goes around the base of Mt Tibrogargan, making it a total of about 14 kms. If you just want to stick to easy tracks, you can access the Trachyte Circuit via the Soldiers Settle Trail and skip the Yul-yan-man track. If you do want a challenge, then from the Trachyte Circuit you can access the very short but very steep track up Mt Tibrogargan.

25. Wellington Point

One of the absolute delights of Brisbane is Wellington point . While just a the end of a narrow peninsular it contains a small beach for swimming at high tide, a jetty for fishing from, a mangrove walk where you walk both up on the side of the bluff and down in the mangroves, a large and well-featured barbecue and picnic area, and a nice seafood restaurant and a, last time I went there, an okay fish and chip shop. Oh, there is also King Island 500 metres off the coast that you can walk to at low tide.

Wellington Point with King Island in the background

Getting there is pretty easy. Trains go to Wellington Point Train Station and you can take a bus from there to the point. However many people just choose to walk the 3.6 kms from the train station.

26. New Farm Park & Brisbane Powerhouse

New Farm Park is not my favourite park in Brisbane, but it is a popular place for picnics, barbecues and sporting activities. The main feature of the park is its rose garden, though again, it is not as spectacular as other flower gardens in Brisbane. The main attraction near the park is the Brisbane Powerhouse, with multiple theatres and an exhibition space, there is usually something on at the Powerhouse. There are 2 mildly overpriced but still very good restaurants at the Powerhouse as well. There are also markets on Saturday mornings and pop-up events outside the Powerhouse, including popular food truck events.

Brisbane Powerhouse at New Farm Park

It is usually easier to get to New Farm Park by bus, but the ferry is more interesting for tourists. There is also a Coles supermarket nearby if you want to grab food for a picnic, and cafes and takeaways nearby if you don't fancy making your own food or don't want to spend big to eat at the Powerhouse.

27. Mt Gravatt Outlook Reserve & Tooheys Forest

In the suburb of Mt Gravatt is a hill named Mt Gravatt set in an area of bushland called Mt Gravatt Outlook Reserve and nearby is another area of bushland called Tooheys Forest. Mt Gravatt might not be as lofty as Mt Coot-tha but it has better sunset and city views. While no bus goes up to the peak, buses drop you off near the start of walks to the top.

Brisbane City seen from Mt Gravatt Outlook

You can take a bus to Logan Road and walk to the start of the Summit and Federation Tracks at Gertrude Petty Place which takes you on a circuit that heads up to the lookout at the top, and back down again obviously as it is a circuit. You can also take a bus to Griffith University Mt Gravatt Campus, walk through the university and up Mt Gravatt that way. On the opposite side of the university is Tooheys Forest, which is a lovely place to walk. To get to it you need to take the walking tunnel under the road.

28.. Brisbane Botanic Gardens

When it comes to parks and gardens, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens is definitely the premium park in Brisbane. Often confused with the City Botanic Gardens in the city centre, Brisbane Botanic Gardens lies on the side of Mt Coot-tha and is a fairly quick bus ride from the city, and there are also buses that go to the gardens from as far away as Mt Gravatt and Chermside.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens

The garden features a wide range of tropical and subtropical plants around a couple of lagoons in the section nearest the entrance. Walking up the hill you get to the lookout with great views of the city, and the National Australia Remembers Freedom Wall that commemorates the sacrifices of WWII. Over the small hill is a section around the lake dedicated to Australian plants, including the Australian Flowering Plants Garden and a lake surrounded by a variety of Australian trees and plants. Also in the gardens is the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, a library, 2 exhibition spaces and a cafe. There are also classes, tours and free performances on at the gardens, especially during school holidays.

29. Eat Street Markets

Imagine a place with every type of cuisine and food you know of, and then find that your imagination only covers half of the reality. Well Eat Street Markets, or more correctly, Eat Street Northshore, is such a place. Constructed from multiple cargo containers, each with its own pop-up food outlet, just choosing what to eat is a challenge. It runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, and it is so popular that it is best to get there early if you want to sit down. Along with food, there is usually live music as well.

Eat Street Markets

There are both buses and ferries to the markets, but the buses stop 2 kms from the markets on the weekends and while they drop you closer on Fridays, they are still not that convenient to take. It is much better to go by Ferry which drops you off at the last stop at the end of the market's car park.

30. Dularcha National Park

There are several public transport accessible hikes in South East Queensland, but an interesting one is Dularcha National Park because you can walk through the national park between Landsborough and Mooloolah stations. But not only are you able to take the train to this walk, but the key feature of the walk is that you follow the old train line through an old train tunnel. This is definitely one for the train fans.

Walking through the old train tunnel in the Dularcha National Park

There are multiple other tracks in the Dularcha National Park so you can do it as a loop rather than as the short 6 km one-way walk. But whatever way you do the walk, there are cafes, restaurants and shops at both ends of the walk, though personally I really like the Landsborough Pub which has a modernish pub menu with traditional country pub service and prices.

31. Australia Zoo

Thanks to the Irwin family, Australia's most famous zoo is Australia Zoo and is Queensland's best international zoo. It attracts people from all over the world. Most international visitors are a bit disappointed as they are more interested in Australian wildlife, while Australians enjoy seeing the wide variety of animals from around the world.

To get there by public transportation you take the train to Beerwah Station where the zoo's courtesy bus will pick you up and take you to the zoo. If you have trouble finding the bus or it is not there, you can actually ring the zoo and they will send the bus out to specifically pick you up.

32. Newstead

Newstead is one of those places people will often forget exists, but it is actually an interesting destination that can be visited easily by bus or ferry. The most obvious attraction in Newstead is the beautiful Newstead House . The house is closed at the time of writing this, but you can still walk around the grounds, and if they do open it again, it gives insight into high-end living in Brisbane back in the day. When it was open, the ticket prices included scones made by volunteers along with tea or coffee.

Newstead House

The other 2 main attractions in Newstead are across the river in Albion . There is the Breakfast Creek Hotel, the oldest pub in Brisbane which serves great classic pub steaks. In the lane beside the pub is Queensland's oldest Buddhist Temple, and I think Australia's second oldest one. The Holy Triad Temple, also known as Joss House, was built in 1885 when this area was home to the Chinese markets that sold fruit and vegetables grown by Chinese farmers in the area. One other spot to visit here is the Go Boats , which you can hire and pilot yourself up and down the river.

33. Roma Street Parklands

While Roma Street Parklands is an easy walk from the city, there is also very convenient public transportation direct to these parklands. Most people go by train or bus to the Roma Street Parklands. The trick is that you need to leave the Roma Street Station by the exit leading to the park. If you arrive by bus you need to walk through the train station to get to the parklands, and they give people special tickets at the gate to do this. There are buses from the city that stop right next to the park, and you can also take a bus to the Normanby Station, one stop from Roma Street Station.

Barbecue at the Lakes in Roma Street Parkland

The park is an incredible place to walk around, both during the day and at night , with lakes with a fountain, a rainforest section, a waterfall, another section on the upper level with a wide range of flowers, and views of the city from various places. There is space for sports which also often becomes an event space. But there is also a theatre that hosts a range of events. There is one restaurant in the gardens, but most people who want to eat at the gardens bring a picnic or have a barbecue.


The main constructed tourist attraction on the Sunshine Coast is SEA LIFE in Mooloolaba. From Brisbane, it is a combination of train and bus that gets here. Parking is free, but given that on weekends the Bruce Highway leading up the coast can become a bit of a traffic jam heading both out and back in, taking public transportation can be a good idea.

SEA LIFE is great for kids to walk underwater to see and experience sea life, as well as view penguins and sea lions, get hands-on with coral, and enjoy various play areas for kids. There are also various school holiday activities. Of course, your day can kick on with lots of other activities and sites within walking distance, including The Wharf and the beach at Mooloolaba.

35. Wamuran Forest & Wamuran Rail Trail

This one is an interesting one. First, I need to clear up some terminology. There is an old rail trail in the Wamuran Forest which should be referred to now as the Wamuran Loop Trail. This is because they have recently constructed a rail trail from near Caboolture out to Wamuran Forest. This means you can take the train to Caboolture with your bicycle, cycle out to Wamuran Forest, and then cycle the shared trails in the Forest. You could walk the 10.5 kms along the rail trail, but it is not an ideal walking track, so instead you can take a bus to Wamuran Forest and do the 6.5 km loop, or extend your walk on the various marked and unmarked tracks there.

Following the old railway line in Wamuran Forest

The Wamuran Rail Trail is a sealed trail that ends near Wamuran forest and the idea is that you cycle that trail and then cycle in the forest as well. The Forest is mostly bushland with the main trail being built on the old rail line. There are little patches of rainforest on the walk as well as a few old signs from the rail days. If you are the type who likes exploring, then you can get off onto various little trails that crisscross the forest.

36. Carrara Markets

What is the best market in South East Queensland? Don't worry, I will wait while you argue and even fight among yourselves about this. But one of the biggest markets is the Carrara Markets on the Gold Coast which is a market that you would travel to specifically as a destination. They have everything here, including fruit and vegetables, handcrafts, cheap imported products and much more.

Buses run between Nerang and Broadbeach and stop at the markets. So while the markets are a bit out of the way, they are easy enough to get to from anywhere. It is a market that you might visit on your way to or from the Gold Coast beaches.

37. Ekka & other events

South East Queensland takes a public transport-orientated approach to events, encouraging people to go by bus, train or ferry. They even put on special buses for the football and other sporting events. But the premium event to go to by public transportation is Ekka. This the when the country comes into the city for Brisbane's annual rural show. Not only do they have special buses trains also go to the showgrounds. At the time of writing this Exhibition Station is being redeveloped but will reopen to provide services all year round. This means people coming in from the countryside can easily travel the whole way by train. Most people will drive most of the way and then train and bus it in for the last part.

The country comes to the City at Ekka

Ekka is a whole day of fun and entertainment. If you have kids, best to go early when there are fewer crowds, but the best Ekka experience is a combination of the afternoon for exhibitions and demonstrations, and the evening for the events in the main arena. But of course, this is just one of many rural shows on in South East Queensland and just one of many events in the area for which it makes sense to leave the car at home.

38. Maleny, Montville & Mapleton

This is the first destination on this list that lies outside the Translink Network, but there are 2 buses that connect the rail line to the town of Maleny 7 days a week, with one of those buses also going on the Montville and Mapleton and ends at Landsborough Station on weekdays. These are 3 interesting country towns with additional stops you can access with the buses.

Mary Cairncross Reserve near Maleny

Maleny is a very gentrified town with most shops and restaurants catering to tourists rather than locals. However, it is still an interesting place to visit, and the Mary Cairncross Reserve is just outside of town accessible by the Maleny bus as well. There is a market on Sundays, and lots of shops, cafes and restaurants in town. There is also a walk-through and around the town worth doing. If you don't mind a small walk, you can easily walk out to the Maleny Dairies for a farm visit. The other bus on weekdays will also stop at places like Montville, which is a town that outwardly expresses its German routes, and heads on the Mapleton, which is small but has nice views from the cafes and pubs. Mapleton also gets you access to the northern end of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, and the bus also passes not that far from the southern end for a hiker to walk.

39. North Stradbroke Island

There are many islands in Moreton Bay, and the best that you can visit without a tour or your own boat is North Stradbroke Island . The normal journey involves the train to Cleveland, then the bus to the ferry terminal, though many other people just walk from the train station to the ferry terminal. The ferry will take over to Dunwich where most people jump on the bus to Point Lookout on the other side of the island. Though buses will also take you to other areas, and you can take your bicycle across if you want to head out to Brown and Blue Lakes. Most of the campgrounds are also accessible by bus as long as you are not carrying too much stuff with you.

Enjoying the view of Main Beach from Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island

Some of the highlights include the Gorges Walks, Cylinder Beach, spotting whales from the cliff tops and basically chilling out on one of many beaches. There are plenty of nice restaurants on the island as well.

40. Coochiemudlo Island

This island is always known as Coochie and is a relaxed little island that you can easily visit by ferry. You basically need to get the bus to Victoria Point and take the ferry from there.

There isn't that much to do on the island other than relax on the beach or walk around the island. This is enough for many people, but there are also places to eat and even a golf course.


While you can't go everywhere without a car in South East Queensland, there are still many amazing places you can get to where you could spend a month going to new places every day. This list has focused on places that you can get to purely by public transportation, but often you can also take a bus, train or ferry near where you want to go and then use a rideshare or taxi to get where you want to go.

287232 - 2024-05-30 02:26:31


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