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Recommended Brisbane Day Trips

Home > Brisbane > Lists | Day Trips | Family | Escape the City | Outdoor
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published January 7th 2016
Here are 5 of the best day trips in the Brisbane area
Recommended Brisbane Day Trips

Near to Brisbane are a great number of day trips. This list focuses on those that are better accessed from Brisbane rather than the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast. There are also other fantastic day trips in those areas as well but this article focuses on true Brisbane trips.



However just in the immediate Brisbane area are fantastic island trips, lakes, rainforests, beautiful bushland and country towns. Here are my top 5 recommendations.

Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious

The first and easiest day trip is Mt Nebo. This is a trip that starts within the confines of the Brisbane City Council area and doesn't even leave the greater Brisbane area. This little road trip will take you to lakes, up scenic mountains roads to lookouts, short walking trails and cafes.

Jollys Lookout at Mt Nebo
Jollys Lookout at Mt Nebo


The first (or perhaps the stop) just before the start of the Mt Nebo Road is Enoggera Reservoir. Here you have the Green Tree Frog Cafe and a little zoo at the Walkabout Creek Centre. There is also a lake where you can do the short Araucaria Track or Corymbia Circuit (or even walk an entire circuit of the lake if you like). You can now swim or use paddle craft on the lake, so yes, this could be a good place to stop at the end of the day instead of the beginning.

The swimming area at Lake Enoggera
The swimming area at Lake Enoggera


From Enogerra you immediately enter the D'Aguilar National Park. This is a popular drive or motorcycle ride. There area number of great stop overs in Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious.

Jolly's Lookout is a great lookout worth stopping at. If you want to go for a hike it is actually better to keep going further up the road to the Boombana Picnic Area or the Boombana Cafe. From both these locations you can walk the 8 km return Thylogale Track to Jolly's Lookout. If you don't want to walk so far then the Pitta Circuit at the cafe is worth a stroll with little kids.

Strangler fig on the Pitta Circuit at Boombana Cafe
Strangler fig on the Pitta Circuit at Boombana Cafe


Another great walk to a lookout in Mt Nebo is the Morelia Walking Track to the Mount Nebo lookout. This track of about 7 km return is a little bit rough compared with other tracks in the area, but it is still an easy walk to a great lookout.

Mt Glorious has more great cafes and a couple of little tracks. Greenes Falls is an enjoyable walk to a small falls and the Westside Track walks along the ridge and provides great views where there are gaps in the rainforest. You can do the Westside Track as a circuit if you return along the fire trail.

Cafe in Mt Nebo
Cafe in Mt Nebo


If you are looking for a quick escape from Brisbane's summer heat up in the mountains, This is the easiest and closest day trip to Brisbane.

North Stradbroke Island

One of the great day trips from Brisbane is North Stradbroke Island. This beautiful island is easily accessible from Brisbane via a ferry from Cleveland. Often the cheapest and easiest option is to take the ferry across and then a bus to Point Lookout. You can also take your car across on the car ferry. Ideally you need a 4WD to access some of the sandy tracks to visit places like Brown Lake and Blue Lake.

Cylinder Beach is the perfect place for a swim
Cylinder Beach is the perfect place for a swim


The main highlight is point lookout and the gorges walk. This short walk takes you from Point Look, that overlooks Main Beach, down to Cylinder Beach. The walk mostly goes along the cliff tops, though you do have to walk beside the road for a short distance.

North Stradbroke Gorge
North Stradbroke Gorge


Most people stop their walk at Cylinder Beach. This lovely beach has a nice surf break further out and calmer waters near the shore. You could actually continue walking all the way to the township of Amity.

Dolphins seen from the cliffs at North Stradbroke
Dolphins seen from the cliffs at North Stradbroke


Other popular locations are the walking tracks and Blue and Brown Lakes. Blue Lake has maintained its unique chemistry that gives it a beautiful blue colour for over 7000 years. Brown Lake retains it water because of a layer of leaves at the bottom. The tannin leaching from the leaves gives the lake its distinct brown hue. Both lakes are suitable for swimming.

Other attractions include the great dining scene. There is a lot of mid-priced options though there are also takeaway stile places as well. Don't forget to pop into the little historical museum and an interesting art gallery, both in the township of Dunich where you catch the ferry from.

The North Stradbroke Ferry
The North Stradbroke Ferry


If you want to stay longer, and of course many people do, there are a range of resorts, hotels, caravan parks and camp grounds. There is even a bush camping site about 6 kms down main beach accessible by the same sandy roads that provide access to Blue and Brown Lakes.

Camping on North Stradbroke Island at Cylinder Beach
Camping on North Stradbroke Island at Cylinder Beach


Main Range National Park and surrounds

While there are great national parks in the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Hinterland, one of the most varied and spectacular is the Main Range National Park.The way to the National Park takes you through Beaudesert and the small town of Aratula.

The view of Main Range from Bare Rock
The view of Main Range from Bare Rock


Beaudesert is a nice country town that most people simply pass through without stopping. However it has a number of nice cafes and pubs you might think about having a look in. Aratula is a more popular stop, known for its pub and the One Stop Cafe Giftware & Health Food shop. The One Stop Cafe provides an amazing selection of food (from the unhealthy to gluten free and vegan).

One Stop Cafe in Aratula
One Stop Cafe in Aratula


Another stop on the way to or from the Main Range is Lake Moogerah and the Moogerah Peaks National Park. This lake is for all things aquatic, including swimming, kayaking and canoeing, fishing, and motor boats and water skiing.

Photo of Lake Moogerah courtesy of Shiftchange via Wikipedia
Photo of Lake Moogerah courtesy of Shiftchange via Wikipedia


Now if you actually get to the Main Range National Park instead of just staying at Moogerah, there are a range of attractions and views to see. If you keep heading up the Cunningham Highway you will come to Cunninghams Gap. There are two hikes here worth doing. There is Mt Mitchell on one side of the road. This hike is not that hard, but it is uphill all the way to great views. On the other side of the road there are several tracks. Bare Rock track is not particularly hard, but it does take you to the fantastic Bare Rock with views of the ranges and the coast.

Mt Mitchell is an easy peak to walk up and provides great views
Mt Mitchell is an easy peak to walk up and provides great views


Spicers Gap has one of the most interesting walks in the area. The 8.1 km Mt Mathieson Trail takes you on a 8.1 km circuit that goes through rainforest , more open countryside, along a handmade stone trail, past an old well and the remains on an old oxen cart. You can also visit the monument to the old pioneers graves at the start of the walk.

Old Bullock Cart on the Heritage Trail
Old Bullock Cart on the Heritage Trail


The main feature of the Mt Mathieson trail is Governors Chair Lookout. Though of course you can also drive to within 300 metres of this lookout if you don't like hiking.

The view from Governors Chair
The view from Governors Chair


Other sections include Gooburra and Queen Mary Falls areas, all with mostly short tracks.

Overall one of the more active day trips with a lot of different destinations along the way. We normally go there, hike in the morning then head to Aratula for lunch. If the weather is warm we stop in at Lake Moogerah for a swim.

Moreton Island

The premium day trip destination from Brisbane is Moreton Island. While it is possible to visit this island independently simply by jumping on a ferry, to get the most out of a day trip you need to join a tour.

The wrecks at Tangalooma photo courtesy of Flickr (mapu)
The wrecks at Tangalooma photo courtesy of Flickr (mapu


Of course a tour includes the ferry across, lunch, snorkelling (with equipment provided), swimming with dolphins, sandboarding on the world's tallest beach sand dune and other highlights such as kayaking in see-through kayaks. The more you pay, the more activities are included in your tour.

Dolphin feeding photo courtesy of Wikipedia (S. Newrick)
Dolphin feeding photo courtesy of Wikipedia (S. Newrick)


Independent travelers can elect to simply take the ferry across, hike some of the trails, swim in the ocean and enjoy one of Queensland's most beautiful islands. There are also camp grounds as well as hotels and resorts that you can stay at overnight.

Tangalooma Resort photo courtesy of Wikipedia (S. Newrick)
Tangalooma Resort photo courtesy of Wikipedia (S. Newrick)


Toowoomba

A great day trip is Toowoomba. You can treat it as a scenic drive and stop off at little towns such as Rosewood and Laidley on the way up and then return via Esk and Lake Wivenhoe, or just drive up and back on the highway.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia (Foundationexpo88)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia (Foundationexpo88)


Toowoomba is a tremendous country town. Sleepy is not an adjective you would ever apply to Toowoomba and you will find a lot to do. When it comes to food, you will find more than just a steak and beer in the pub, but a wide range of restaurants just on the main strip alone.

One of the best places to head to is the Picnic Point Lookout. Toowoomba lies perched on the edge of the tablelands, and Picnic Point gives you great views down into the valley. It is also a nice place for a short walk, cup of coffee and cake or a barbecue in the park.

Jazz musicians play in the rotunda at Picnic Point during the Toowoomba Flower Festival
Jazz musicians play in the rotunda at Picnic Point during the Toowoomba Flower Festival


From Picnic Point you will see Table Top Mountain. This is a great little walk with some scrambling to the top. Well worth it for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

The view from the top of Table Top Mountain
The view from the top of Table Top Mountain


One of the main attractions is the Cobb & Co Museum. This is a great way to learn about the time when horse drawn carriages were the main link between country towns.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia


You will also want to visit a range of parks and gardens. The Japanese Garden is considered by most to be highlights of the gardens, but Queens Park and the Newtown Park State Rose Garden are also worth visiting as well.

Day trippers from Brisbane with a green thumb might want to pop into one of the many plant nurseries in the area (the town of Gatton that you pass on the way to and from Toowoomba also has many nurseries as well). If you are buying plants in Brisbane, they were probably planted in the Toowoomba area. So you can often get great deals on plants in the Toowoomba area.

Toowoomba also hosts a number of popular events. The Carnival of Flowers attracts visitors from around Australia. Easterfest is a great way to spend the Easter Holiday.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia (Snapcha)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia (Snapcha)
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Your Comment
The Moreton Island tour sounds interesting, especially the interactive dolphin feeding experience. And sandboarding down Mt Tempest must be equally thrilling.
by Diana (score: 2|674) 1229 days ago
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