A drive through the Queensland bush
Photograph: Tourism and Events Queensland

The best scenic drives near Brisbane

This list of pleasant spins in and around the River City is where the rubber meets the road

Maxim Boon
Written by: Katrina Lobley

It’s time to rev your engine and leave the Big Smoke behind. Swap that view of suburbia and skyscrapers for the sights, sounds and scents of nature. To satisfy your weekend wanderlust, here are some of our favourite short scenic drives that you’ll find just beyond Brisbane’s city limits. Sort your road-trip playlist and head out to find the most scenic stretches of the Mid Brisbane River, wind your way up and down mountain roads that are firm favourites with motorcyclists and car enthusiasts, stop for a cuppa at a road-hog café or follow in the ancient footsteps of Minjerribah’s Quandamooka people.

Alternatively, you can leave the wheels at home and explore nature on one of the best day hikes near Brisbane.

Hit the open road

Redcliffe to Lake Wivenhoe

Cruise along Redcliffe’s Marine Parade, squinting as the sun sparkles on Moreton Bay, and continue over the 2.7km-long Ted Smout Memorial Bridge – one of the bridges connecting the peninsula to Brisbane’s northern suburbs. Head west to zig then zag along mountain roads snuggled into subtropical rainforest. Join the easy-rider motorcycle crowd for refreshments at the wonderfully retro Mt Glorious Café. On weekends, car and motorbike enthusiasts often use these scenic roads as photogenic backdrops for their toys. Take a breather at Cormorant Bay Recreational Reserve on Lake Wivenhoe’s southern shore or paddle in the Mid Brisbane River at Twin Bridges Reserve. You’ll also see the river if you’ve booked ahead to walk a llama on a leash at the Llama Farm, north of Ipswich.

Blackall Range, Sunshine Coast

Soak up the pretty-as-a-picture Sunshine Coast from an elevated hinterland viewpoint by corkscrewing your way up onto the Blackall Range. Three distinct villages – Maleny, Montville and Mapleton – are all drawcards. Head to Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World for a panoramic view of the ancient volcanic plugs known as the Glass House Mountains. In Montville, park under the camphor laurels and browse the boutiques. See the distant Pacific Ocean while lunching at Mapleton Public House or wind down to the lowlands of Palmwoods to try one of the huge burgers at Rick’s Garage, a magnet for hot-rodders, motorcyclists and car enthusiasts.


Cleveland to Minjerribah

This route might be short on actual driving but it’s big on freedom and flexibility. While Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) has a bus service, there’s nothing like roaming the world’s second-largest sand island under your own steam. Pop the car onto a ferry departing from Cleveland (a 45-minute drive southeast of Brisbane’s CBD) and enjoy the bay breeze as you jaunt over to Dunwich. From here, head to Brown Lake and Blue Lake – two sacred spots for the island’s Quandamooka people. Saunter over to Point Lookout (18km from Dunwich). During the cooler months, spy whales that are cruising along the Humpback Highway. Year-round, kangaroos and wallabies keep the township’s lawns trim. Don’t forget to drop in on the sunshine-soaked, north-facing Cylinder Beach that sits within view of Mulgumpin (Moreton Island).

Burleigh Head National Park to Tamborine Mountain

See the Gold Coast’s Burleigh Headland through ancient eyes by taking the Jellurgal Walkabout tour. From Burleigh Heads’ Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, the tour leads you past ochre pits and shell middens fronting Tallebudgera Creek. With the trail wrapping around the Dreaming mountain of Jellurgal, you’ll also hear stories about its creation. After a dip in the creek’s turquoise waters, head inland from the Glitter Strip and up the mountain to reach another peak. Tamborine Mountain’s Cedar Creek Estate is home to a purpose-built glow worm sanctuary. Take a daytime tour to see thousands of glow worms shining in the tunnel. Just 6km down the road is the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk which gives you a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest canopy.


Ipswich to Scenic Rim

Sometimes, all you want is a delicious weekend with a memorable lunch in a picturesque country location. Point the wheels towards Marburg – a cute-as-a-button small town northwest of Ipswich. Its classic Queenslander-style pub has undergone a snazzy Insta-worthy reno and serves the likes of black Angus rump and grain-fed rib fillet. For an elegant lunch with a gobsmacking view of the rugged Scenic Rim, head a further 30km to reach Homage – the fine diner at Spicers Hidden Vale. Here, the à la carte menu might feature the likes of Marburg emu tartare and Warwick confit lamb.  Try to snag a table on the veranda.

    You may also like
    You may also like