Looking for the best day trips out of Brisbane?
No need to look far because Queensland’s capital city is in the perfect position for day trips of any kind, with a wide choice of great day trips to be had only a drive or a short cruise away. You can take your pick from picturesque beach escapes for the outdoor lovers, or theme parks for the thrillseekers!
1. Girraween National Park
Only slightly over a three hour drive from Brisbane, Girraween National Park is one of the best places for a day trip, with its dramatic landscapes, gorgeous wildflowers, and plentiful bushwalks. For the wildlife lovers, there is an abundance of flora including golden wattles, yellow, red, and purple pea flowers, dainty orchids, amid forests of red-gum, stringy bark and blackbutt.
Girraween has 17km of walking tracks, ranging from a 280m stroll beside Bald Rock Creek to an 11km return walk to Mount Norman, so everyone from beginners to experts will have something to do.
2. Springbrook National Park
Springbook National Park dominates the skyline west of the Gold Coast and is a perfect place for travellers looking for a taste of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. It is a close 100km (approximately a two hour drive) from Brisbane, making it the perfect day trip for nature lovers. The park is divided into four sections – Springbook Plateau, Mount Cougal, Natural Bridge, and Numinbah. Spectacular waterfalls, panoramic coastal views, and lush rainforest makes this nature reserve a wonder to visit.
The sanctuary is known for its diverse flora and fauna and wonderful views – be sure to check out bushwalking tours that are available so you don’t miss a thing!
3. Australia Zoo
The world-famous Australia Zoo was founded by the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and is dedicated to conserving wildlife through education and research, and is a perfect way to spend a day with your family. The conservation centre aims to educate visitors about wildlife and help preserve endangered species for the future.
Experience up-close animal encounters including snakes, crocodiles, and free-flight birds, watch live feeding and demonstrations, including the always exciting Wildlife Warriors show at the Crocoseum! All animal encounters are walked through by expert handlers, so those with young children do not have anything to be concerned about. With almost twenty encounters, where else in the world can you experience so much hands-on wildlife action in one day?
4. Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke Island is the second largest sand island in the world and located just one hour from Brisbane, and is the perfect destination for a day trip getaway. While you are on Stradbroke Island, you can relax, soak up some sun, and forget the mainland for a day.
The island is easily accessible by water taxi or ferry, and when you get to the island there is a regular connecting bus and taxi service. Upon arrival, swim in the surf or freshwater lakes, take a hike, view whales and other marine animals from the beach and coastal lookouts, visit small historic towns, or even go in search of the island’s population of wild kangaroos and koalas.
5. Fraser Island
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, and was World Heritage Listed in 1992 after a bitter struggle between conservationists, sand mining and logging interests. It is composed almost entirely of vegetation covered sand, with over 40 freshwater lakes and dense rainforests. Like many of the locations on this list, there is an abundance of precious ecosystems, abundant wildlife, and natural beauty to be explored.
You will be able to experience seemingly endless golden beaches encompassing towering hardwood forests, pristine rainforests, crystal clear freshwater lakes, shipwrecks, and prehistoric ferns. Fraser Island is certainly for those who enjoy the great outdoors, so make sure you bring along swimmers and lots of sunscreen, especially in the warm summer months!
6. Moreton Island
Moreton Island is the world’s third largest sand island, with most of the island being a protected national park without paved roads, making 4WD an essential mode of transportation. The island is known for its gorgeous scenery and pristine waters, as well as the giant sand dunes where you can partake in sandboarding if you are the adventurous type.
When sandboarding, you can reach speeds of up to 50km an hour, however everyone from beginners to experts can enjoy the activity and modify it to their comfort level. After the excitement of sandboarding, be sure to head to the Tangalooma Shipwrecks where you can snorkel around the 15 submerged shipwrecks, and watch a range of aquatic life swim around the vicinity (including parrotfish, clown fish, and blue-tang surgeonfish).
7. Whale Watching at Surfer’s Paradise
Surfer’s Paradise is one of the prime locations for taking whale-watching cruises on the Pacific. Be sure to join a day-cruise where you’ll be able to watch whales at play in their natural habitat whilst hearing commentary from a marine naturalist.
Many cruises will cruise by the Australian Whale Sanctuary, a protected piece of the ocean surrounding Australia that is part of the annual migration of humpback whales, who make their way to these subtropical Pacific waters to give birth every May to October. Here, you may see the whales showing off with jumps and splashes, as well as other marine life such as loggerhead turtles, orcas, dolphins, and seabirds. This experience is truly breathtaking, and will be enjoyable for all ages!
8. Gold Coast Theme Parks
The theme parks on the Gold Coast are renowned in Australia for their thrills and family entertainment from high-octane roller coasters to live shows and waterslides. It is known as the ‘theme park capital of Australia’, with various parks to choose from including Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World, Wet n Wild, and WhiteWater World. Pick one of the parks to spend the day with your family!
9. Great Barrier Reef
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres – and is even visible from outer space. Although it is recommended to stay a few days exploring the Great Barrier Reef, it is possible to take a day trip from Brisbane if you are up for it.
Depending on the time of year, you can spot turtles and visit one of the world’s largest turtle research centres, learn about turtle conservation, or look for humpback whales out on the water. One of the many popular activities besides snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef include taking a ride out on a glass-bottomed boat, or scuba diving or deep-sea fishing. The iconic Great Barrier Reef is blessed with its breathtaking beauty and is home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, in addition to dolphins and sharks.
10. Lamington National Park
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Godwana Rainforests of Australia, Lamington National Park is a delightful destination for taking a day trip to explore Queensland’s beauty.
Soak up spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean from atop Mt Tambourine, and create your own adventure at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. You will be able to encounter flocks of king parrots and other native bird species on the treetop canopy walk, and even try feeding the birds at a ground level bush walk. There are countless opportunities for taking photographs of the scenery and wildlife at this unmissable place!
Besides the theme parks, you can see there are plenty of natural wonders to explore outside of Brisbane. If you’re a nature lover, you definitely won’t go wrong with any of these options.