16 sensational leisure activities in southern Queensland
Southern Queensland’s sun-filled days are perfect for embracing the outdoors.
And this part of the country has some amazing outdoor 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 revealed. Whatever route, a visit here is one of the best things to do in the Sunshine Coast.
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 within the region include the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
Nearby park: BIG4 Hervey Bay Holiday Park
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.
And if you want to play the ‘real thing’, there are so many first-rate, easily accessible golf courses throughout the likes of the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and more.
Nearby park: BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park.
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 Toowoomba Japanese Garden, Newtown Park and its accompanying State Rose Garden, and Picnic Point lookout where views stretch across the Lockyer Valley.
Nearby park: BIG4 Toowoomba Garden City Holiday Park.
Noosa is surrounded by water. River, sea, and lake access is enjoyed with the greatest of ease, so soaking up sparkling water views is a must here.
Join a scenic cruise from Noosa Marina in Tewantin for a relaxing outing: Sunset cruises are particularly alluring.
Looking for a great Noosa budget tip? Try a stroll in Noosa National Park, which explodes with breathtaking coastal outlooks among its sea of greenery.
Boiling Pot lookout is a short distance from the main car park and dishes up widespread sea views while 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 and glimpses of whales in season.
Nearby park: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Noosa.
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.
Cania Gorge is downright incredible, providing a mixed bag of highlights for those who venture to this prized national park.
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 that make for outstanding photos. 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, well-stocked with the likes of bass, yellow belly, silver perch, and more. And from here, the national park provides a superb backdrop.
Nearby park: BIG4 Cania Gorge Holiday Park.
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 – Kings Beach is a winner for families – and is punctuated by relaxing cafés and the like. Brilliant.
Nearby park: BIG4 Caloundra Holiday Park.
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 boating and fishing, too.
A surprising slice of World War II history can be gleaned at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum, while adrenaline junkies can aim high on a thrilling skydiving adventure. If you’re visiting on Wednesdays or Sundays, stop by colour-cloaked Bribie Island Butterfly House.
From November-March, marine turtles nest and hatch on the beaches of Mon Repos, near Bundaberg. And 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 turtles. But this also makes the experience even more intimate and special.
It’s strongly encouraged to book tickets in advance for this rare opportunity, which easily ranks as one of the best things to do in Bundaberg.
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. Fraser Island is unique in that it’s the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand, which creates an exceptional sight.
In fact, a visit here is among the best things to do in south east Queensland, and one for bucket listers.
There are so many enticing cycling paths to plant your wheels along in southern Queensland, including loads along the coast. Better yet, tracks suit hardcore cyclists to weekend joyriders.
The Gold Coast has more than 1000km of cycleways alone. The Gold Coast Oceanway is a great starting point: This 36km network of pathways connects Point Danger in the south to The Spit in the north.
In the Sunshine Coast, the Mooloolaba to Picnic Point path is an enjoyable family-friendly ride among ample excellent trails in the region.
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.
When it comes to the best activities and experiences in south east Queensland, this one is a bit of a spotlight dodger. That could be considered ironic – at least by Alanis Morissette’s standards – considering just how big, bright, and bold the subject matter is.
Toowoomba is dominated by striking artworks created by talented artists, and you can roam the city to admire these colourful, thought-provoking pieces all for the cost of only a few calories.
Nearby park: BIG4 Toowoomba Garden City Holiday Park.
This magical area is a bit of a hidden gem yet it’s relatively easy to access (40min 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 offer amazing reflections (cue arty Instagram pics) and its serenity and beauty make it the perfect place to kayak either on a guided or self-guided tour. Not to be missed.
Nearby park: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Noosa.
While it often escapes the masses, one of the best things to do in south east Queensland has to be a visit to Rainbow Beach.
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.
Nearby park: BIG4 Rainbow Beach Holiday Park
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