Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, is the perfect starting point for a road trip, as it’s the gateway to some of the most breath-taking natural landscapes in Australia. With its well-connected road network and easy access to a range of destinations, whether you want to explore the rugged coastline, hike national parks or spend a few hours relaxing on golden beaches, Brisbane has easy access to it all.

Buckle up and hit the road and start planning for an adventure with this guide to the best road trips near Brisbane. Just don’t forget that they drive on the left in Australia!

  • 1

    Byron Bay

    Enjoy border-crossing beach town fun

    Byron Bay
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    Drive south from Brisbane to Byron Bay on a 2-hour trip that takes in the beauty of the Gold Coast and crosses the border from Queensland to New South Wales. Make a pit stop at Surfers Paradise to see the famous beaches, watch the surfers ride the waves and grab a bite to eat.

    Once you arrive in Byron Bay, you can explore its lively arts and culture scene by way of the many galleries in town, and funky independent stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Drive a few minutes east of the town center to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters at Wategos Beach or snap a selfie at Australia's most easterly point, the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

    Location: Byron Bay, New South Wales, 2481, Australia


  • 2

    Sunshine Coast

    From white sand beaches to lush rainforest

    Sunshine Coast
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    Head north from Brisbane to explore the gorgeous natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast which stretches from Caloundra to Cooloola in the Great Sandy National Park along Queensland’s east coast. Just an hour from Brisbane, stop off at Australia Zoo and visit the famous 700-acre conservation facility founded by Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

    The drive from Brisbane along the Sunshine Coast showcases the unrivaled natural beauty of Queensland’s east coast. Take your pick from beautiful coastal towns such as Mooloolaba and Noosa, with world-class beaches and picturesque boardwalks, or head into the hinterland to explore quaint stops such as Maleny, with its artisanal food and craft markets.

    Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia


  • 3

    Ipswich

    Cute koalas and steam trains

    Ipswich
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    Just 45 minutes’ drive from Brisbane takes you to the charming town of Ipswich, home of one of Queensland’s best-loved tourist attractions, the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railroad. Take a ride on an authentic vintage steam train in a wooden carriage to Swanbank, a 1903 heritage railroad station set in idyllic grounds with a lake, food truck and souvenir shop.

    On the way back, make sure to stop at Lone Pine, the world’s largest koala bear sanctuary, where you can cuddle cute koalas, feed kangaroos and meet platypuses.

    Location: Ipswich, QLD, Australia


  • 4

    Glass House Mountains

    Explore extinct volcanic peaks

    Glass House Mountains
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    A road trip to Glass House Mountains, an hour away from Brisbane, makes for an easy road trip destination for a rewarding hike with sweeping valley and mountain views. A sacred site for the Indigenous Gubbi Gubbi people, tread lightly on this natural wonder.

    Composed of 12 extinct volcanic peaks that offer stunning views of the Sunshine Coast and the hinterland, explore the unique rock formations, and look out for peregrine falcons soaring overhead. If you’re lucky you may spot echidnas and wallabies in their natural habitat.

    Location: Glass House Mountains, Queensland, 4518, Australia


  • 5

    Lamington National Park

    Spot rare bird and wildlife in the rainforest

    Lamington National Park
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    Experience the natural beauty of the Lamington National Park on this stunning road trip, just 90 minutes’ drive from downtown Brisbane. Choose whether you prefer the inland route through the hinterlands past Tambourine Mountain, or if you want to follow the M1, which goes past the Gold Coast before heading inland.

    Once you’ve arrived, take a hike through the pristine rainforest, home to many rare animals and birds such as the spotted-tail quoll, on one of the many walking trails taking in the gorgeous mountain views. There are more than 500 waterfalls in the park, including Elabana Falls and Box Log Falls, which cascade through the forest.

    Location: Lamington National Park, QLD, Australia


  • 6

    Caloundra

    Whales and white sand beaches

    Caloundra
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    An hour and a half north of Brisbane, Caloundra is the southernmost town in the Sunshine Coast region and makes a great road trip for beach lovers. Expect white sand beaches and tranquil family-friendly waters here. You can join the crowds at Kings Beach or spend some time at the quieter, tree-lined Moffat Beach.

    Take a stroll on the 3-mile ‘Caloundra Connection’ part of the Sunshine Coast Coastal Pathway and you may spot turtles and, from June to November, humpback whales as you enjoy the unspoiled ocean views.

    Location: Caloundra, Queensland, 4551, Australia


  • 7

    Noosa

    Hit the road for craft beers and the rainforest

    Noosa
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    A 2-hour drive north of Brisbane, a road trip to Noosa takes in coastal towns such as surf carnival hot-spot Maroochydore and the craft-beer-crazy town of Coolum Beach. Known for its laid-back lifestyle, beautiful beaches and national park, Noosa has plenty to offer at the end of the road.

    Spend the day on the white sand beach, try water sports such as surfing or kayaking or head into vine-entwined rainforest or the shade of the eucalyptus trees in Noosa’s national park and wildlife sanctuary. End your trip with a seafood feast at one of the excellent restaurants that line Hastings Street.

    Location: Noosa, Queensland, Australia


  • 8

    North Stradbroke Island

    Enjoy a taste of Island life

    North Stradbroke Island
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    Escape the mainland with a 2-hour road trip to North Stradbroke Island from Brisbane and see why the locals love ‘Straddie’ for a fun day out. Spot koalas snoozing in the trees, and kangaroos nibbling grass, as you enjoy stunning beaches or hike the rugged bushland.

    Ferries run daily from Cleveland to Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. You can leave the automobile at the ferry terminal and take the passenger ferry to the island or make a reservation and take the automobile ferry. Look out for dolphins or whales on the 50-minute ferry ride.

    Location: Queensland 4183, Australia


  • 9

    Boonah

    Drive the Scenic Rim

    Boonah
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    Head an hour southwest of Brisbane for a road trip into the tranquil countryside and discover the rural beauty of Boonah, surrounded by mountains in Queensland’s Scenic Rim. Once you leave the city behind, you’ll drive through rolling hills and farmland, with small villages along the way. Boonah is overlooked by Mount French and Mount Edwards, which offer excellent hiking opportunities.

    Explore further and book a tasting at the nearby Kooroomba winery and lavender farm, which holds live music events and has a restaurant overlooking the fragrant fields of lavender and vines.

    Location: Boonah, Queensland, 4310, Australia


  • 10

    Queen Mary Falls

    Immerse in nature

    Queen Mary Falls
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    Take a 2.5-hr road trip from Brisbane to Queen Mary Falls and leave the city far behind to explore the dramatic scenery of the Border Ranges National Park and Scenic Rim. You’ll be treated to views over soaring mountains and lush rainforest, along winding roads past roaring waterfalls and tempting lookouts.

    Challenge yourself to the Queen Mary Falls Circuit, a 40-minute walk that takes you from the lookouts at the top of the falls all the way to the creek below on a short, circular hike that takes you close enough to feel the mist of the falls on your face.

    Location: Spring Creek Rd, The Falls QLD 4373, Australia