Was your 2021 resolution to work less and explore more? You’re not the only one. With all of beautiful Queensland to discover, we have so many reasons to make the most of our own backyard by jumping in the car and setting off on a weekend getaway from the city. So pack your bags and choose from one of the many places that are just waiting for you to arrive.
Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island, but don’t let that fact fool you, the island is home to a rich and diverse landscape. With lush inland rainforests, freshwater lakes and stunning beaches, there is a reason the island is known to its traditional owners as K’gari - which literally translates to ‘paradise’.
Crossing on a ferry to the island, you’ll be greeted by Fraser’s famous sun and surf. Soak up the rays on one of the many beaches before exploring what the island has in store. For the adventure junkies, Fraser Island offers up some unique opportunities. Drive down 75 mile beach (be sure to check the tides before you go!), sand board over dunes, hike island trails in search of wildlife or snorkel the Maheno Shipwreck.
Winding down from your day of activities, dip your feet in the crystal clear, and aptly named, Champagne Pools before turning in for the night. There are a few options for those wanting to turn this trip into a weekend getaway, stay at Eurong Beach Resort and catch some of the island's most beautiful sunrises right there at Eurong Beach or camp on one of the island's many campgrounds. Want more? Find out all the fun things to see and do here.
Only a 90 minute drive from Brisbane will bring you to Noosa, home of beautiful beaches, lakes, rivers and national parks. It’s easy to see why Noosa is a famous weekend getaway and holiday destination for people from all over Australia. Try your hand at surfing at one of the local surf schools or kayak down the Noosa Everglades (one of only two everglade systems in the world!) and admire the abundant flora and fauna that can be found in this part of the world. Noosa is also home to some great local food and craft markets, so stock up on some fresh produce or treat yourself to a thrifted outfit.
After working up an appetite from the many activities on offer, find out why Noosa has long been tipped as a foodie haven. With fresh local produce and talented homegrown chefs creating a winning combination, you could plan a trip just exploring its first class restaurants and cafes. Noosa Beach House and Bar is just one such place for you to check out.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, look no further than Habitat Noosa. Located within the everglades, you can find some of the best eco camping opportunities in the region, or upgrade and stay in a cabin only a stone's throw from the water.
Byron Bay and Northern Rivers
The place on everyone's lips, Byron Bay is a favourite for celebrities to health gurus, surfers to holiday makers. There are so many reasons to visit this laidback seaside paradise. Driving across the border into NSW, enjoy the picturesque views of the northern rivers region and the Byron Hinterland before arriving at the main town of Byron Bay.
There is lots to see and do in the area, including great food and drinks, hiking trails, health retreats, local markets and festivals. Try your hand at hiking up to the Byron Bay Lighthouse: though not for the faint of heart, the views from Cape Byron make the walk all worthwhile. From here you can walk out to the most easterly point in Australia, where you can see some of the most spectacular sunrises. Head into town and experience the friendly and welcoming nature of the locals and relax by one of the beautiful beaches with a pizza from Il Buco.
Stay for a weekend away at Elements of Byron and treat yourself to a bit of luxury, or if you’re looking for a bit of fun, why not check out the Arts Factory Lodge (featured in the Inbetweeners 2 movie!) for some quintessential Byron ‘good vibes only’.
Indulge your inner treasure hunter in this adventurer's paradise, located only a short drive from Brisbane. Snorkel the shipwrecks off shore and find an entire world full of rich sea life hidden beneath the waves. Explore the coast in a different way by taking kayaks out, cruise along until you find hidden beaches waiting to be explored. Bring your tent and set up on one of the many campgrounds on or near the beach, most are even set up with toilet and shower facilities. You can find out everything you need to know about camping on Moreton Island here.
Looking for a bit more comfort? Look no further than the Tangalooma Island Resort. Great for family getaways, this resort will even assist in booking and arranging activities for you so you can spend more time relaxing with loved ones. If you’re in search of good food, check out Castaways Store & Cafe and enjoy the famous Moreton Island hospitality.
Located three hours drive north of Brisbane, Hervey Bay is most famous for its whale watching activities. Humpback whales visit between July and November during their migration period. What many don’t know is that Hervey Bay is a great place to visit at any time of the year. With 14 kilometres of beautiful beaches, and sheltered by the nearby Fraser Island, the waters in Hervey Bay are renowned for their safety and are a great place to bring kids, or just to relax by their calm waves.
After dinner at one of the first class restaurants in the area, take a walk along the famous Urangan Pier for sunset. The one hundred year old pier is also one of the longest in Australia and stretches around one kilometre out to sea.
Wake up early to scuba dive the ex-HMAS Tobruk, which came to rest in the waters just north of Hervey Bay, for an experience you won't soon forget. The almost 120 metre long ship has slowly been taken over by the colourful sea life which now calls this place home. Reef fish, Lionfish and Octopus are just a taste of what waits to greet you during this dive.
The Bunya Mountains
Home to the world's largest population of Bunya Pines and seeping with deep historical and ecological importance, The Bunya Mountains should be at the top of your next weekend away from Brisbane.
Located between Kingaroy and Dalby, the Bunya Mountains have a long history with Australia's first nations people.Traditionally used as a meeting place for Indigenous tribes who would travel far and wide on foot to collect the seasonal Bunya nuts, as well as trade and create social alliances. The last meeting was said to have occured around 1900, but efforts to recreate the annual gathering have seen people coming from all over Australia for the summer event.
The Mountains lie around three hours drive from Brisbane and form part of the Great Dividing Range. Lush rainforests, woodlands and tranquil pools will greet you here, along with 215 different species of birds. Enjoy a weekend hike, or camp overnight and watch the fireflies come to life as the sun goes down. Bring a telescope and see the wonders of the night sky from the crystal clear dark skies above the range. Kingaroy offers up some great accommodation and dinner options for those looking to stay nearer to town during their trip to the mountains.
Rainforest, waterfalls and national parkland, Tamborine Mountain is the ultimate escape from the city. It may surprise you to learn that all this can be found just a short one hour drive from Brisbane and a 30 minute drive from the Gold Coast. Experience the rainforest from the treetops on the Tamborine Rainforest Walk. The walk takes around an hour and allows for unparalleled views of Tamborine Mountain. Be sure to stop by the Rainforest Eco Gallery along the way, where you can learn about the region's local Indigenous history.
Ever wanted to see the stars during the day? Come and see the constellation of light created by thousands of glow worms inside a cave at Cedar Creek Winery. While you’re here, why not check out the local wines on offer? If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, zipline through the rainforest with Treetop Adventures to really get your blood pumping.
Finish your trip with a night at the Pethers Rainforest Retreat where you can sleep amongst the treetops. Or look for one of the many charming Bed and Breakfasts the region has to offer.
It is the journey, not the destination, that matters - and the Granite Belt is all about the journey. With more than 10 tourist drives to choose from, there are many ways to experience all the beauty this region has to offer. We have put together a few of our favourites below:
Take the 12 kilometre Granite Belt drive which runs from Dalveen to The Summit, where you can then continue on to Stanthorpe. Stop for fresh fruit from local farms or get a bottle of wine from a local vineyard and stay in one of the charming bed and breakfasts along the way.
The Highland Drive stretches 31 Kilometre, running through Storm King Dam where there are many water and fishing sports on offer. Check out the Girraween National Park where you can meander along one of its many hiking paths or camp for the night under the stars.
The 190 kilometer Falls Drive one of the most popular dives in the region, this drive takes you through an array of beautiful waterfalls including Browns Fall, Daggs Fall and Queen Mary Falls. Swim in waterholes and take in the fresh air before continuing on to the next stop along the Granite Belt.
Header image: Fraser Island - Via Tourism and events Queensland