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  1. On the beach at North Stradbroke Island for Yura Tours
    Photograph: Tourism and Events QueenslandNorth Stradbroke Island Yura Tours
  2. An aerial view of the Noosa Everglades and some canoes
    Photograph: Tourism and Events QueenslandNoosa Everglades

The best weekend getaways from Brisbane

Pack the car and hit the highway for some of the best weekends away to be had in southeast Queensland

Written by
Katrina Lobley
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You don’t have to venture far from the River City to experience a mini-break that seems a long way from quotidian cares. When you’re feeding dolphins or alpacas, exploring retro jetties and motels, stocking up on wines on a cellar door tour, getting in touch with the local Indigenous history and even blissing out to a guided meditation, you’d never imagine that city life was less that two hours away. Here are ten excellent escapes that can all be accomplished comfortably with an overnight stay. 

Remember that there are many sacred sites that are of great cultural significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders throughout Australia. Always check if it is appropriate for you to visit specific areas.

Short for time? Check out the best day trips from Brisbane or the best attractions in Brisbane.

Feed a wild dolphin on Moreton Island
Photograph: AWOL Family/Tourism and Events Queensland

Feed a wild dolphin on Moreton Island

Moreton Island is just 40km from Brisbane but feels a world away. Some 98 per cent of it is national park (renamed Gheebulum Kunungai National Park in 2021). Its largest development is Tangalooma Island Resort where you can feed in-the-know wild dolphins and fish at dusk. A little further along the beach, swim out to shipwrecks with your snorkel to commune with fish and turtles.

Stay: Tangalooma Island Resort is 75 minutes from Brisbane by catamaran. The range of activities is huge, and most rooms have ocean views. 

Go whale watching on North Stradbroke
Photograph: The Edit Suite/Tourism and Events Queensland

Go whale watching on North Stradbroke

Almost nudging Moreton Island is Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island – the world’s second-largest sand island, nicknamed Straddie. Ferry the car from suburban Cleveland so you can more easily reach Point Lookout. From here, see whales cruising past each winter. Join Quandamooka Coast or Yura Tours for insight into Indigenous culture and connection to country, or explore Blue Lake and Brown Lake on your own.

Stay: ​​At stylish beachfront Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel overlooking north-facing Cylinder Beach, which enjoys all-day sunshine.

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Visit a Crystal Cave in Mullumbimby
Photograph: Airbnb/Romello Pereira

Visit a Crystal Cave in Mullumbimby

Tucked into the Byron Bay hinterland is Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens where you can “connect to yourself, crystals and nature”. Even if you’re not the woo-woo type, the sub-tropical sanctuary is a fascinating day out. Stand between towering crystal geodes, sit inside a crystal cave and stroll bamboo-lined paths. 

Stay: Keep the zen going with a stay at Soma Byron Bay, made famous by the Netflix series Nine Perfect Strangers, complete with meditation classes and that geodesic dome.

Have some retro fun in Redcliffe
Photograph: John/Flickr

Have some retro fun in Redcliffe

Looking for old-fashioned beachside fun? Head to the Redcliffe Peninsula and stroll Bee Gees Way – a tribute to Redcliffe’s most famous sons. Pick up fish’n’chips to munch while strolling Redcliffe Jetty or Woody Point Jetty. Continue the old-school vibe by venturing north to Bribie Island where you can take your pick from surf beaches or the calm waters of Pumicestone Passage.

Stay: Between the two jetties is the Sebel Brisbane Margate Beach, which offers guests complimentary bicycles and views over Moreton Bay.

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Relax in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Photograph: Jesse Lindemann/Tourism and Events Queensland

Relax in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

The lush Sunshine Coast hinterland houses the Blackall Range, home to a charming trio of villages. Nose about Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World (there’s also a top view of the Glass House Mountains from here), stay in luxury at Spicers Clovelly Estate at Montville and lunch at Mapleton Tavern, where views stretch all the way to the ocean. 

Stay: Spicers has a grand French provincial atmosphere, set among jacarandas and groves of magnolias and gardenias. This is one for romantic getaways for sure. 

Explore Stanthorpe and surrounds
Photograph: PixelFrame/Tourism and Events Queensland

Explore Stanthorpe and surrounds

Show the embattled cool-climate Granite Belt wine region some love. Sip your way around the Stanthorpe area, home to more than 40 cellar doors including Tobin Wines, Golden Grove Estate and Symphony Hill Wines. Dine at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism’s Varias Restaurant, go Japanese at Hanasaku, or arrive famished for an Italian-inspired feast at Ballandean Estate Wines’ Barrelroom.

Stay: ​​In a tiny house fashioned from a wheat trailer and make friends with the chickens, cows and alpacas at Straw House BnB.

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Experience a different side of the Gold Coast
Photograph: Hotel Miami/Tourism and Events Queensland

Experience a different side of the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is hip again. Admire the architecture and art at HOTA, Home of the Arts in Surfers Paradise. Graze Miami Marketta – a happening night market – three times a week. Drop into Currumbin’s Balter Brewing Company for a craft brew or two – and don’t forget to order the famous Moreton Bay bug roll at Rick Shores on the beach at Burleigh Heads.

Stay: The Gold Coast, hip? Check into the Mysa Motel on Palm Beach to see what we mean – it’s got retro Palm Springs vibes, vintage design pieces and rooms with signature interiors.

 

Head up the creek for the Noosa Everglades
Photograph: Jesse Lindemann/Tourism and Events Queensland

Head up the creek for the Noosa Everglades

Go for a scenic paddle through the Noosa Everglades – a magnet for some 44 per cent of Australia’s bird species. The 60km tannin-stained waterway is known as the River of Mirrors thanks to the perfect reflections of banksias, tea-trees, melaleucas, waterlilies, clouds and sky. Guided kayak tours depart from Boreen Point, half an hour’s drive from Noosa Heads; boat tours depart from nearby Elanda Point.

Stay: ​​Check into the chic 15-room HOLA (House of Local Art) in Eumundi, a boutique hotel that showcases the work of Sunshine Coast artists.

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Rediscover the Tweed
Photograph: Ryan Fowler/Destination Tweed

Rediscover the Tweed

One of northern NSW’s hottest culinary destinations is Tweed River House in South Murwillumbah. An elevated bistro and bar occupy an historic riverside home that’s undergone a swoon-worthy revamp. Downriver a smidge is the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre. It’s worth visiting just to see the 20,000-plus items transplanted here to re-create parts of the Sydney home studio of Olley, one of Australia’s most popular and beloved painters of the 20th century.

StayHead further into the hinterland to unwind at Mavis’s Kitchen and Cabins, a restaurant and B&B in a gracious old Queenslander house.

Throw another prawn into your mouth in Northern NSW
Photograph: Elise Hassey

Throw another prawn into your mouth in Northern NSW

Nip off the Pacific Highway to snap a selfie with Ballina’s Big Prawn. Snap up fresh prawns from nearby seafood stores or head to the Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-op in Yamba in northern NSW. Yamba, at the mouth of the Clarence River, is the perfect seaside town: think river and ocean beaches, cool new accommodation such as the Surf – and a tenpin bowling alley inside the Bowlo.

Stay: The Surf’s minimalist beach chic design enhances those views Iluka to Angourie on the rooftop terrace.

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