Southern Queensland’s sun-filled days are perfect for embracing the outdoors.
And this part of the country oozes amazing attractions and experiences.
From the heart-pumping to the laidback; the budget-beaters to the bucket-listers, we’ve compiled an almighty assortment of irresistible things to do in south east Queensland and surrounds.
The iconic rugged crests of this popular Sunshine Coast national park are made for exploring. And a series of designated walking tracks allows for startling photo ops from various vantage points. The Mt Beerwah view walk has strong visual rewards yet is the easiest of strolls from the nearby car park. But it’s the likes of the Mt Beerburrum and Mt Ngungun summit paths where gobsmacking views are best revealed.
If you’ve never witnessed the jaw-dropping sight of whales up close, you haven’t lived. And this mesmerising experience is hard to beat at the whale-watching capital of Australia. Here, roughly 7000 humpback whales and their new calves rest and play in Hervey Bay’s calm waters from late July-early November. Ample tour options provide incredible close encounters that will stay with you forever. Other whale-watching hotspots include the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
Forget traditional golf driving ranges; this enthralling attraction smashes them out of the park. Consisting of various games that test both accuracy and distance, Topgolf is an entertainment experience. It’s also tailormade for varying skill levels and ages. Each climate-controlled bay features chairs and large TVs, and food and beverages are easily on hand. For the best things to do on the Gold Coast, Topgolf is right up there.
With a staggering 150-plus public parks and gardens that carpet the landscape in colour, Toowoomba thoroughly earns its title of the ‘Garden City’. Beautiful Queens Park is among the highlights. It houses Toowoomba's Botanical Gardens and is also a key location for the city’s famed Carnival of Flowers festival, usually held each September. Other highlights include the lavish and elaborate Ju Raku En Japanese Garden, Newtown Park and its accompanying State Rose Garden, and Picnic Point lookout.
Stay at: BIG4 Toowoomba.
Noosa is surrounded by water. River, sea, and lake access is enjoyed with ease, so soaking up sparkling outlooks is a must. Join a scenic cruise from Noosa Marina in Tewantin for a relaxing outing: Sunset is particularly alluring. Elsewhere, Noosa National Park explodes with breathtaking coastal outlooks among its sea of greenery. Boiling Pot lookout is a short distance from the main car park, but from Laguna Lookout the wow-factor really kicks in, especially at sunset. Or tackle the 5.2km return walk to Hells Gates for heavenly vistas.
The Gold Coast hinterland is massively magnetising. At its heart is Tamborine Mountain where appeal abounds: The villages and their surrounds are full of charm. Cute cafés, galleries, boutiques, markets, wineries, breweries, and much more ensure this is a day-trip must. A few brilliant paths are worth a stroll. The Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk delivers a succession of dazzling views while the Curtis Falls Circuit and Witches Falls Circuit within Tamborine National Park are swamped by greenery and lead to flowing falls.
This park is downright incredible, providing a mixed bag of highlights. The headline act is the gorge itself: a monstrous sandstone creation that will leave you transfixed by its sheer size and beauty and variable colours. And don’t miss ancient Aboriginal rock art that’s a fixture of the gorge’s walls. Varied wildlife and dozens of bird species stretch the park’s appeal. Nearby, Lake Cania – or Cania Dam – is an angler’s delight. From here, the national park provides a superb backdrop.
Not only is this a great Sunshine Coast budget tip, it’s simple to experience and offers strong rewards. While this beachfront path extends for 25km from Golden Beach in the south to Mooloolaba in the north, it’s easy to ‘hop on and hop off’ at your leisure. The pathway takes in Caloundra’s best beaches and is punctuated by relaxing cafés and the like. Brilliant.
Stay at: BIG4 Caloundra.
Want more? Check out this handy guide to Caloundra.
It’s easy to gravitate to beautiful Bribie, and its appeal is widespread: Nature, adventure, and history all shine here. There are plenty of glistening white sand beaches to choose from, and these waters are a hotspot for kayaking, boating, and fishing as well as swimming. A surprising slice of World War II history can be gleaned at Bribie Island Seaside Museum, while adrenaline junkies can aim high on a thrilling skydiving adventure. Or stop by colour-cloaked Bribie Island Butterfly House, open at selected times.
From November-March, marine turtles nest and hatch on the beaches of Mon Repos, near Bundaberg. Witnessing this natural event makes for an incredible spectacle. Each night, guided tours are available to observe nesting (November-January) and hatching (January-March) of marine turtles. These tours are the only way to see this event, as beach access is restricted to protect the cute creatures. But this also makes the experience even more intimate and special. Bookings are encouraged.
Boasting World Heritage status, this beauty is the largest sand island on the planet. It’s also an adventure playground. There are glorious freshwater lakes for swimming, beautiful beaches to wander along – don’t miss the iconic SS Maheno shipwreck – and colourful cliffs and sand dunes to admire. K'gari is unique in that it’s the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand, which creates an exceptional sight.
Roughly 100km south of Warwick is an area with a collection of astounding natural assets. Girraween National Park abounds with gigantic boulders and other granite outcrops that make for the most incredible sight. Prepare for a feast of fantastic photo ops when taking to a wide variety of walking tracks.
Part of the famed Great Barrier Reef, this tiny paradise-like island is a gem. It’s even more alluring considering it largely escapes the crowds. Lady Musgrave is renowned for its incredible diving and snorkelling opportunities and wealth of marine life. Prime opportunities exist to spot humpback whales, turtles, and various fish and sea birds. For a thrilling island escape, join a day cruise from Bundaberg.
Toowoomba is dominated by striking artworks created by talented artists. Roam the city to admire these colourful, thought-provoking pieces all for the cost of only a few calories. A handy interactive map will help guide you around the city.
Stay at: BIG4 Toowoomba.
This magical area is a bit of a hidden gem yet it’s relatively easy to access (30km from Noosa Heads) and is a day-trip must when in the Sunshine Coast. The Noosa Everglades are one of only two everglades systems on the planet, and this one offers 60km of snaking waterways dominated by swampy land and encircled by clusters of tall grass. The sparkling waters deliver amazing reflections – hello, Insta – and its serenity and beauty make it the perfect place to kayak either on a guided or self-guided tour.
Located on the northern fringes of Great Sandy National Park, Rainbow Beach is both an inviting small town and a brilliant beach. The main beach itself is backed by stunning colourful cliffs that give this stretch of coast its name. The extensive coastline is an excellent spot for surfing, fishing, 4WDing, and swimming. While here, don’t miss nearby Carlo Sand Blow, a huge moonscape-like sand mass that affords pretty panoramas.
Stay at: BIG4 Breeze - Rainbow Beach.