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With the riches of South-East Queensland at its door, Brisbane proves a convenient starting point for day trips into the regions. Although the beaches in this corner of Queensland are natural drawcards, the area is rich in experiences away from the azure waters of the Pacific.
If you are looking for fun in the sun and embrace adventure, why not try these locations for a fabulous day out.
Where better to enjoy a day out then the beautiful Sunshine Coast Hinterland? The Coast’s beaches are God’s backyard and a dip at Noosa Main Beach after a stroll down Hastings Street is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning - but the Sunshine Coast is more than perfect waves and white sand.
The Hinterland, just a stone’s throw north from the bustle of Brisbane, is a quaint oasis of calm with picturesque little villages, decadent cream teams and views to soothe the soul.
Start your day early and head up the Bruce Highway to the famous Eumundi Markets. Even if you are not market tragic, you will be impressed by the wares being peddled by the more than 600 vendors. Handcrafted items include clothing, jewellery, toys and furniture with mouth-watering preserves, pastries and indulgent chocolates, too.
If you can tear yourself away, head south down the M1. Make a whistle stop at the Ginger Factory to admire the stunning ginger flowers and stock up on spicy treats before heading up the range to Flaxton.
Have an early lunch at Flaxton Gardens, a popular winery, restaurant and wedding venue that also does a scrumptious high tea. From there head along Route 23 to Kondalila National Park. There is an easy walk to the waterfall with a swimming hole and a lower rock pool. The water is always refreshing and there is a rope swing if you are feeling a little adventurous.
A couple of kilometres down the road is the eclectically designed European-looking town of Montville where you will find Swiss chalets next to English cottages and Tudor buildings. The lovely village is known as the creative heart of the Sunshine Coast and the proof is there to see in the gallery-lined main street with a number of artisan shops including furniture, cuckoo clocks and fashion pieces.
Mary Cairncross Nature Reserve, just a short drive from the centre of Montville, offers the perfect picture opportunity of the Glasshouse Mountains rising majestically out of the ground with the ocean in the distance. Take a guided tour through the rainforest walk where you are likely to see wallabies, gliders and colourful birds before heading down the road to Maleny.
Like Montville, Maleny is awash with crafters and in addition to galleries, you will also find potteries, quilt makers and silversmiths along the main street. Oh, and delicious ice-cream too. Get yourself a scoop or two, take a seat and watch the world go by. Don’t forget to stop at the cheese factory and dairy for more gastronomical delights.
Suitably refreshed, make down to Landsborough at the foot of the range. This pioneering North Coast town found itself on the map in 1871 when it was chosen as a stop along the Cobb & Co route. It has a quaint main street and an interesting museum. If you fancy a burst of adrenaline, you can always take a turn around the Big Kart track before heading back to Brisbane.
Just a 45-minute ferry ride from Brisbane is the treasure trove of North Stradbroke Island. Whether you take your car or book a tour on the island, you can expect a day with nature’s beauty on show with glorious coastal lookouts, historic small towns, clear freshwater lakes and abundant fauna.
At 275 square kilometres, North Stradbroke is the second largest sand island in the world, has three small towns and is home to some 2000 people.
Unlike Moreton Island, for example, 'Straddie' is not just four-wheel-drive accessible so you can wander along sealed roads or venture off onto the four-wheel-drive tracks if you have the means. You will need a permit if you do take your 4WD though, and although most of the tracks are fairly easy to negotiate, conditions are dependent on the tides and weather.
Remember to lower your tyre pressure if you are taking the road less travelled and keep the speed down on the beach roads as they are usually busy with families having fun.
You can also take a tour with a local Aboriginal guide along the Goompi trail and learn about the Quandamooka people.
Must-do stops include Amity Point where dolphins have been known to come up to the jetty, the old leper colony station and asylum in the friendly township of Dunwich and Cylinder and Frenchman’s beaches. Have a swim in the tea-tree-stained Brown Lake before heading north to take a stroll along the North Gorge Wal, a 1.2km trek that will take you to the best vantage point on the island. Look out from the rocky outcrop and you are likely to see manta rays, dolphins and turtles. From June to November, you may also be lucky enough to glimpse the migrating whales.
You can also take a tour with a local Aboriginal guide along the Goompi trail and learn about the Quandamooka people and the significance of the beautiful Blue Lake or visit the Terra Bulla Leumeah Reserve where a guide can teach you about the Noonuccal people.
Why not join a kayak paddle to Peel Island to see the wreck of the Platypus, a bucket dredge that was sunk in 1926 to form a breakwater for the jetty, or wander through the craft shops with island wares?
Finish the day with fish and chips on the beach before heading back to the Big Smoke.
While most visitors who head south of Brisbane tend to hit the theme parks and glitter strip of the Gold Coast, venturing further inland will have you reaping those day trip rewards.
Pack your swimmers and sunscreen and travel down the Pacific Motorway for an hour before turning off at Mudgeeraba and on to the Springbrook in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. The spectacular waterfalls, 2000-year-old trees, little pademelons and exceptional views are sure to impress.
The Springbrook Circuit, which starts along the Lyrebird Ridge Road will take you to the most popular destinations including the Antarctic Beech trees at the end of Repeater Station Road and Goomoolahra picnic grounds where you can take a dip in the creek while watching the waterfall cascade into the canyon some 80m below. Walk through the rainforest, stopping at the Natural Bridge over Cave creek which is easily accessible for children and varying fitness levels. Take in the magnificent strangler figs and epiphytic ferns and look for rainforest dragons and those noisy lorikeets.
Have morning tea at one of the cafes next to the national park before you join Route 97 up to Tamborine Mountain. Breathe in the clean mountain air as you amble along the gallery walk marvelling at the local boutiques, arts and crafts and perhaps stopping a while at the local wineries.
Explore the rainforest canopies on the elevated Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk which soars 30m in the air or hunt for gemstone thunder eggs at Thunderbird Park. Kids and adults alike will love the Glow Worm Caves at Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard where thousands of glow worms highlight the stalagmites and stalactites.
Enjoy a late lunch in one of the top-notch eateries the mountain has to offer with choices including Irish, Italian and French all with the most dazzling backdrops, before making your way back to Brisbane.
Have you been on any of these day trips? Tell us what you think in the comments below.