The Weekend Series: fill your tank for the best day trips from the Gold Coast
Summer holidays have finally arrived and, if you’re anything like us, you’re probably itching to get out of the city and explore. If you were super organised and booked some Christmas accommodation, goooood for youuuu. If you weren’t, then allow us to suggest a day trip – you get all of the benefits of a little escape without breaking the bank on accommodation. What’s not to love? We’ve filled our tanks, curated a fire playlist and compiled a list of five killer day trips that are an easy drive from the Gold Coast.
Springbrook National Park
When we put together our list of favourite Sunday drives, we fell in love with a little ol’ place called Springbrook National Park. This evergreen wonderland isn’t too far of a trek but feels like it’s a world away – caves, waterfalls and secret garden paths are just some of the delights that await you here. Loads of the walks and tracks around the area and wheelchair- and kid-friendly, so this is one that the whole fam can enjoy. The lush little pockets and clearings are perfect for a picnic if that’s your vibe, or you can take advantage of casual eateries like Dancing Waters Cafe.
If the idea of welcoming hospitality, quaint country stores and idyllic vistas sound like your idea of a day well spent, we highly recommend a trip southwest to Boonah in the Scenic Rim. The roughly 90-minute journey is part of the irresistible charm of Boonah, which will see you drive past cattle farms, rolling hills and tiny townships. Surrounded by rugged mountains and picturesque lakes, there are an abundance of scenic drives, picnic spots and hiking trails in and around Boonah, including Mount Mitchell, Mount French and Moogerah Dam. While in town, be sure to pop in to third-generation department store Maynards for a step back in time, stop in for a beer at quintessential Queensland pub the Dugandan Hotel, or settle in for a gastronomic journey through the Scenic Rim at intimate restaurant Blume. You’re also only a 12-minute drive from Kooroomba Vineyards and Lavender Farm – you certainly won’t be short of things to do!
The Sunshine Coast hinterland is packed with stunning scenery and cute little gems to explore, which is why Montville has scored a spot on our top day trips list. Head into town and have a wander down Main Street, where you can check out the work of local artisans across everything from opal cutting to beer brewing. The natural beauty of the region will make your jaw drop – suss local wildlife at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, take a dip at Kondalilla Falls or sprawl out on the shady shores of Baroon Pocket Dam. Sweet tooths best schedule in a stop at fudgyboombahs and Chocolate Country – because you’re going to want some snacks for the drive home, right?
If you haven’t been to Toowoomba in a while and your memories of it are less than impressive, we would strongly urge you to give it another shot. First of all, it’s a naturally beautiful place famous for its flowers – so be sure to check out the immaculately kept Queens Park, the Ju Raku En garden and Picnic Point Lookout if you want a feast for the eyes. Speaking of feasts, there are plenty of spots to nosh around town – be sure to schedule a visit to the amazing The Baker’s Duck, sample fine-dining done casually at Zev’s Bistro and drop in to Schulte’s Fresh Gourmet Market in Plainland on the way home.
There’s a reason that Noosa tops the list of many day-trip seekers – have you seen the place? From pristine beaches to nature-packed bushwalks, this is a prime pocket of the world to explore. Wander beyond Main Beach and check out the bays and coves for a more unobstructed spot to swim (or surf), or take the Noosa National Park walk to get a good look at the natural wonders. Make sure you go with a full stomach – lunch spots like the tranquil ALBA by Kuruvita and cafe-cum-gin-bar Moonstruck are a must-try. It can get pretty busy in peak season, so if you’re after a more chill experience just be mindful to pick your timing carefully.
Looking for more inspo on weekend escapes? Our Destination archive is loaded with gems – from farmstays to country pubs, we’ve got you covered.