Best of Southern Queensland Road trip

If you’re a fan of self-drive holidays, then this epic 10-day Southern Queensland road trip will be right up your alley once borders open again. Explore Brisbane City, chill out in Gold Coast and claim a piece of green in Sunshine Coast – you get a taste of everything from sun, sand, sea and hinterland! Each region is uniquely different and will have something to offer for every member of your travelling group.

Pick up a car when you arrive in Brisbane airport and set off for the trendy and vibrant Gold Coast as your first stop. Max out your fun quota before you drive north towards the relaxing and lush Sunshine Coast. Finally, set Brisbane as your last pit stop. Drop the car and enjoy this city, best explored by foot.

GOLD COAST – Trendy, laidback and never a dull moment!

Recommended for 3-4N stay

Celebrated for their picture-perfect mix of long sandy beaches, surf breaks and theme park thrills, explore the laidback ocean-front neighbourhoods and discover a vibrant food and drink scene. Wander off the beaten track and into the greenery of ancient rainforest, welcoming wildlife sanctuaries and hidden walking trails.

Day 1 – Million-dollar sea views at Surfers Paradise and Burleigh Heads

Start your day with a million-dollar sea view at BMD Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club and tuck into a hearty breakfast of eggs benedict. After you’ve fuelled up, make your way to Q1 Building for SkyPoint Climb, or visit Q1 Observation Deck to get 360 views of Gold Coast. For the adventure seekers, don’t miss the chance to Learn to Surf from the pros. Stop for lunch at Surfers Paradise Esplanade where there is an amazing range of restaurants and retail shops. Pro tip: check out Surfers Paradise Beachfront Market if you are there on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 4pm onwards.

For dinner, dress up and head to Burleigh Heads for a meal at the award-winning Rick Shores or the trendy Burleigh Pavilion. Remember to make reservations for one of the best sunset views in Gold Coast.

Day 2 & 3 – Famous for fun!

A visit to the Gold Coast isn’t complete without ticking off at least one or more of these iconic experiences.

• For families, join the captain of Aquaduck and see Gold Coast from both land and sea. If speed is your kind of thing then make sure you book a Jetboat experience where you will enjoy adrenaline pumping 360- degree spins and high-speed drifting on water.
• Don’t miss out on the opportunity to ride Southern Hemisphere’s longest, tallest and fastest hyper-coaster ‘D.C. Rivals’ at Warner Bros. Movie World. You can also head to Australia’s largest theme park Dreamworld and attempt to complete its 40 rides and attractions in 1 day.
• If you will like to see the region’s expansive views, then we recommend a Hot Air ballooning experience! For something even more daring, choose Sky Dive, leap off a plane at 1,700 feet and enjoy the coastal views like no other.

Day 4 – Uncover the Green behind the Gold

Approximately 60 mins in-land lies Gold Coast’s best kept secret - Mt Tamborine. Put on your trekking shoes and head to Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk and wander amongst treetops. Book a Canon Flyer Zipline experience that zips you across the Cedar Creek Canyon at up to 70km/hour. After all the action, park your car along Long Road and explore Gallery Walk for art, craft, gift and knick-knack stores. Plan a stop at Witches Chase Cheese to sample and buy award-winning cheese and wash it down with a pint of local beer at Fortitude Brewing Co. If you are looking for something sweet, you can visit Tamborine Mountain Distillery for one of Australia’s most internationally awarded liquor brand. Before you set off, head to Cedar Creek Estate and book a Glow Worm Tour!

Insider tips:

  • Rent a private yacht and set sail in Gold Coast!
  • Visit Miami Marketta (Wed, Fri and Sat) and be charmed by this quaint and quirky laneway dining experience.
  • Visit the trendy breweries and distilleries that are sprouting up in Gold Coast.

SUNSHINE COAST – Slow down and enjoy the good life!

Recommended for 2-3N stay

Approximately 2 hours’ drive north from Gold Coast, come and retreat into the laid-back lifestyle of the Sunshine Coast. Leave your footprints in its lush hinterlands and fill your tummies with paddock-to-plate goodness from local producers. You can be sure to leave feeling rejuvenated and satisfied before you head on to the cosmopolitan Brisbane city.

Day 5 – Explore the beautiful hinterland of Sunshine Coast

As you drive north into Sunshine Coast via M1 Highway, we recommend that you plan a drive through the hinterland region covering both Maleny and Montville townships. Stop at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve for a little trail walking or simply take in the views of the iconic Glass House Mountains. Plan for lunch/tea at Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World where you enter a picturesque 18 acres of privately owned garden. We hear that their scones are worth the calories! Lastly, if you are a cheese lover, make sure that you stop by Maleny Dairies (alert for Australia’s best full cream milk) and Maleny Cheese where you get to sample locally produced cheese.

Day 6 – Something for family, foodies and friends!

Have an early start this day so you can uncover as many coastal precincts in 1 day. Our top picks for families will be Caloundra where Australia Zoo, Aussie World and Ginger Factory are in proximity. Kids will also love Kings Beach with its time-delayed fountain and saltwater ocean front pool. For foodies, head to Mooloolaba Spit where trawlers bring in their bounty of fresh seafood daily. Make sure you snag some spanner crabs and Mooloolaba prawns. Wind down the evening at Noosa’s Hasting Street where you’ll find some of Australia’s best restaurants nestled in this upmarket precinct. We also recommend a sunset walk around Noosa National Park for a good wind down.

Day 7 – Visit Noosa Everglades

Perfect for a day trip or overnight stay, Noosa Everglades is one of the region’s best kept secret. One of only two everglades systems on earth, it is a world of water, wilderness and wonders in the upper reaches of the Noosa River. Known as the River of Mirrors because of the amazing reflections in the water, the Noosa Everglades is a 60km stretch of pristine waters, magnificent flora and fauna and narrow waterways. One of the best ways to experience this pocket of beauty is up close with someone who knows it inside out. Join the team from Everglades Eco Safari on the ultimate day trip or book a guided half day kayak tour with Kamu Kapers. If you are planning for an overnight stay, choose your type of accommodation with award-winning eco-accommodation Habitat Noosa.

Insider tips:

  • Every April – June, make sure have your gumboots on for strawberry picking! Strawberry fields aplenty for your picking
  • For local markets, you cannot miss Noosa Farmers Market (every Sunday, 6am – 12pm) and Eumundi Markets (every Wednesday, 8am – 12m and Saturday, 7am – 2pm)

BRISBANE - Energetic, enlivening, refreshing

Recommended for 2-3N stay

Brisbane is a unique melting pot of culture and innovation, punctuated by architectural feats and a splash of dining in unexpected locations. Here you’ll receive a warm welcome from the city with timeless nature in its soul. Drop the car in this leg of the itinerary as this city is best explored by foot!

Day 8 – Shop and eat in Brisbane CBD

From dusk till dawn, Brisbane City has got it going on. Start at Queen Street Mall, a pedestrian mall packed with over 700 retailers (be prepared to spend at least half a day here). For high-end fashion, walk to Edward Street for the ‘Paris end’ of Brisbane City. Find some of Brisbane’s best coffee at Coffee Anthology, Margaret Street and John Mills Himself, Charlotte Street. Every Wednesday, join local producers and famers at Brisbane City Markets. Make sure to wander into Eagle Lane, Gresham Lane and Burnett Lane and discover trendy restaurants and bars. For late night dinners, head to Elizabeth Street for Japanese and Korean fares. Keep your eyes peeled for heritage sites such as ANZAC Square War Memorial, City Botanic Gardens, Parliament House and Old Government House, Brisbane City Hall (home to Museum of Brisbane).

Before you end the day, we recommend a sunset bridge climb at Story Bridge or kayak the Brisbane River with Riverlife Adventures so you end the day on a high.

Day 9 – Get arty and wet in South Bank (short walk from Brisbane City via Victoria Bridge)

Here you will find Australia’s largest Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Museum and State Library of Queensland – all in close proximity that makes for a good day of visit. Check out their exhibition and activities online before visit so you can maximise your day. Not a gallery hopper? South Bank also has a more playful side and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike who come to the parklands to take a selfie at the iconic Brisbane sign or swim in the man-made Streets Beach. Families will enjoy the precinct’s expansive green spaces, picnic areas and playgrounds where kids can roam free. Jump aboard Brisbane Wheel in the evening to catch the lovely dusk hues over Brisbane Skyline. For diners, choose between riverside dining precinct River Quay or Fish Lane for trendy restaurants that are wallet friendly as well.

Insider tips:
  • Visit Brisbane Visitor Information and Booking Centre for maps and brochures.
  • Brisbane city is best explored by foot! Book a free tour with local volunteers Brisbane Greeters or pay for a bespoke tour with Walk Brisbane to hunt down local gems.
  • For weekends (Friday – Sunday), visit Brisbane’s largest street food market Eat Street Northshore for a night of feasting and entertainment. Or if you like a park setting, head to ‘Weekends on the Lawn’ next to Howard Smith Wharves for a laidback afternoon of food trucks, beers and free music.

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