Whether you’re back into the swing of things or savouring the last of your summer holidays, there’s always time for a day trip. These are the top three destinations we’ll be frequenting before the cool weather sets in.
Folks in Brisbane are lucky enough to be bookended by two world-class coastal destinations, but for us Gold Coasters, we don’t often take the time to explore our northern counterpart. Stretching from Coolum in the south right up to Noosa in the north, there are kilometres upon kilometres of pristine coastline to explore on the Sunshine Coast. Take a boat out on the water for a spot of fishing or whale watching, explore the inland canals by kayak or ride the waves on one of the many quality surf breaks. By foot, breathe the fresh country air in hinterland towns like Maleny and Buderim, splash some cash at Noosa’s Hastings Street or Maroochydore’s Sunshine Plaza, or enjoy a meal with a side of ocean views at one of the hundreds of restaurants the Sunny Coast has to offer.
Gold Coast locals will attest to the fact that, from the moment you drive across the border into New South Wales, the scenery seems to change. Palm trees are replaced with lush greenery, the water gets a little clearer (and a lot cooler) and the mountains creep closer to the sea. And while we love the hustle and bustle of life on the Glitter Strip, the calm quiet of towns on the northern NSW coast provide the perfect palate cleanser. Start your trip in Kingscliff, stopping at Cubby Bakehouse at Chinderah on the way for their unmissable pastries (they come from the geniuses behind Bam Bam Bakehouse, so you know they’re going to be good). Keep going along the coast – Casuarina and Cabarita are two small towns with a lot to offer – or head inland, hitting up Instagram-worthy locations like Farm & Co. at Cudgen and Husk Distilleries at North Tumbulgum. And if one day just isn’t enough, there’s no need to pitch your tent – the glamping experts at Hideaway at Cabarita Beach have your tent suite ready and waiting. Hungry for more? Head here.
Framed by the mountains and valleys between Brisbane and Tamborine Mountain, this picturesque region lives up to its name. The Scenic Rim is a quick hour drive from the Gold Coast, but feels like a world away. This little pocket of Queensland is a melting pot of rainforests, mountain ranges, historic towns and some of the best produce in the state. Throw on your best hiking shoes and explore one of the many bushwalking trails that take you to hidden waterfalls and lookouts peering over incredible scenery and immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Visit the O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards and picnic alongside the creek sipping wine and snacking on local produce – and did we mention the adorable alpacas and platypus that call the Vineyard home? Your kids will be mesmerised. If you want to turn your day trip into a weekend away, keep going further into the Scenic Rim and head to Cedar Glen Farmstay. You’ll get a taste of true country life while feeding animals and collecting eggs, taking a 4WD twilight tour to the top of Jack’s Rocks and enjoying a glass of bubbly as the sun sets while the kids learn how to crack a whip, like a true Aussie stockman. For more, head here.
Last but not least, why not head west and discover Australia’s second largest inland city? The perfect ‘tree change’, Toowoomba prides itself on its celebration of history and nature. Stroll through one of the countless city gardens – from Ju Raku En, the traditional Japanese Garden, to the sprawling Queens Park in the city centre – with a picnic basket and blanket in tow, making the most of the lush green spaces and clean country air. For the kids, check out Cobb+Co. Museum for tonnes of science and history with a fun twist – you’ll find it hard to drag them away! Find a spot high above sea level to admire the expansive ranges, or cool off in a natural watering hole beyond the city limits. And, when it’s time to come back to reality, make sure you grab a sample from one of Toowoomba’s revered wineries before you go.