As of the first weekend in May, Queensland has reopened its national parks, and declared the great weekend drive is once again an acceptable thing to do. While you’re not able to head off on a week-long road trip down the East Coast, you can travel up to 50 kilometres from your home. So we’ve rounded up a bunch of places you can explore from each city in the Sunshine State. Crank up the playlist and crack the windows because every day is a great day for a Sunday drive now!
Please remember to check exactly how far 50 kilometres is from your house - these are rough estimates only.
What can you do 50 kilometres from:
Dayboro (45k from Brisbane CBD)
Take a picturesque drive from Brisbane through the Samford Valley to the quaint village of Dayboro. The historical society in town has a town walk you can do, plus there are some cute cafes on the main street (for a takeaway of course).
Mount Glorious (41km from Brisbane CBD)
Cyclists love the challenge of heading up Mount Nebo and Mount Glorious, and with the road lined with lush rainforest, it’s not tough to see why. When you arrive, stretch your legs on one of the many rainforest walks. At Maiala picnic area there’s a rainforest circuit, the Greenes Falls tracks, the Western Window track, Jolly’s lookout and plenty more places where you can get a dose of fresh mountainous air and take a stroll, or work up a sweat. It’s your day out, you do you!
Redcliffe (38km from Brisbane CBD)
When the weather is still warm enough, take the family to Redcliffe for a dip at Suttons Beach Park, or pick up some of Brisbane’s best fish and chips from Morgans Seafood Market at Scarborough. OR, why not do both? It’s a wholesome outing the whole family will enjoy leaving the house for.
Bribie Island (50km from the northern suburbs)
If you live in Brisbane’s north, an island drive might be just within your 50km limit. Head to the beach with the kids, for a walk along the sand dunes, or take your furry friend for a run at the dog beach. He or she is probably just in need of a change of scenery as you are!
Lake Manchester (38km from the Brisbane CBD)
If you’ve been hanging out for a decent hike, Lake Manchester provides a good challenge with a 17km loop track around the reservoir.
Tamborine Mountain (41km from Surfers Paradise)
Take a windy drive to the top of the mountain from the Gold Coast for stunning views out west, a walk to Curtis Falls, then follow with an ice cream, or some takeaway fudge for the drive home!
Springbrook National Park (47km from Surfers Paradise)
With the National Parks opening up again, you can swap the beach for the bush with one of the many walks and hikes in Springbrook. Natural Bridge offers a fairly short (but is quite steep in places) walk to a gushing waterfall, plus there are longer walks to Purling Brook Falls, and even sections of the Great Walks can be found here.
Kondalilla National Park, Montville (33km from Mooloolaba)
In the Sunshine Coast Hinterlant, this is a 4.7km return trail that takes you from the top of the Kondalilla Falls, through huge bunya pines and giant ferns, down the escarpment and into the valley at the base of the waterfall. It’s a two to three hour return walk, but the 300+ stairs make this one most suitable for those with a decent level of fitness!
Gardner’s Falls, Maleny (38 km from Mooloolaba)
A flat and easy walk along the Obi Obi river will take you to these waterfalls and swimming hole. A lovely escape to the rainforest without a tough walk to get there. One for all ages and fitness levels.
Glass House Mountains (38 km from Mooloolaba)
Sitting between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, the Glass House Mountains offer a great day trip for a long scenic drive, an easy walk or a challenging hike. There are roughly ten different trails, from the Coonowrin circuit and Mount Ngungun, which make for an enjoyable but doable challenge for most people with a general level of fitness, to harder hikes like the rock scramble up Mount Beerwah.
Eumundi (41 km from Mooloolaba)
The famous Eumundi Markets might not be open just yet, but don’t let that stop you from taking a drive to this pretty hinterland town. The old town centre is lined with historic buildings making for a lovely stroll, and there are cafes and restaurants offering delicious takeaways.
Great Sandy National Park, Noosa North Shore (12 km from Noosa Heads)
Linking Noosa North Shore with Rainbow Beach, the 102km long Coolola Great Walk is a five day camp and hike. While you might not be able to do the whole thing right now, you can still reach the Carlo Sandblow walk and Seary’s Creek boardwalk. Perhaps you could start slow and work your way up to the whole thing as restrictions ease? That will take your mind off the house for a while!
Cape Hillsborough National Park (50 km from Mackay)
You’ve likely seen photos of this spectacular beach at sunrise, kangaroos dotted around. It’s a beautiful region just north of Mackay where the rainforest meets the sea, filled with native birdlife, kangaroos, wallabies, and butterflies. Sunrise is the best time to snap a good photo, but there are plenty of walking tracks for a day trip too.
Platypus Beach (37 km from Mackay)
A beautiful river tucked away amongst the cane fields, Platypus Beach is a great place to escape to for some swimming, fishing, kayaking and more. Be sure to keep an eye out for the platypus who live in the area - though you do usually need to be very still and quiet to catch a glimpse.
Lamberts Beach (11 km from Mackay)
Just 15 minutes drive from Mackay, Lamberts Beach is a great place for a swim, exercise, or, depending on who you’re with, a picnic! It’s a stone’s throw from the city, giving you no good excuses to stay inside!
Magnetic Island (ferries running extra services on the weekends)
Island escape anyone? For those in Townsville, you can now hop aboard the ferry and head across to beautiful Magnetic Island for a day! Ferry services have increased, but be sure to check the timetable first, as daily times are still limited compared to the original schedule.
Townsville Town Common Conservation Park (11km from Townsville)
A mix of rocky headlands, coastal wetlands, deepwater lagoons and coastal woodlands, the ‘Town Common’, as locals call it, is a great spot for walking, running, riding and relaxing. This is a great option for a half or full day trip thanks to its close proximity to town.
Alligator Creek (29 km from Townsville)
A popular spot to cool down on a hot summers’ day, this creek is a crystal clear swimming hole with rocky waterfalls, fish, and hiking tracks to stretch your legs on.
Fitzroy Island (29km from Cairns)
Cairns' closest island paradise, Fitzroy, is the ideal place to escape to right now. A small island with great rainforest trails, and coral reefs that sit right off the beach and are teeming with sea life. You can kick back on a sunlounger or swim with sea turtles, stand up paddle board or plenty more!
Kuranda and Barron Falls (26 km from Cairns)
Most commonly known for its Skyrail, the quaint town of Kuranda in the hills above Cairns, is worth a visit for so much more. There are lovely local cafes open for takeaway, and the rainforest surroundings make for great bush walks or a scenic day drive. Barron Falls are a highlight not to be missed, with a short, flat walkway that takes you to a lookout at the top of the falls. From a small trickle in the dry season, these falls become one of the most powerful in Australia after the wet season’s rains.
Palm Cove (27 km from Cairns)
A short drive north along the coast from Cairns will take you to the small, quaint community of Palm Cove. The beautiful trees that line the beach offer a great spot to sit back with a book of an afternoon, or a game of beach volleyball with a (small) group of friends.