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Our COVID-19 “stay at home” restrictions have been eased over the past month. In Queensland we were only able to partake in recreational travel at a radius of up to 150 kilometres from our homes for day trips. However, in what was exhilarating news for Queenslanders we are now able to travel for leisure throughout the state of Queensland without restriction. But there are still social distancing regulations in place and restrictions on numbers of people at gatherings, restaurants, clubs and pubs.
I can hear a lot of people shouting hooray! We’re finally able to head off on that long awaited camping trip with cool pop up tents or weekend escapes. With the winter school holidays coming up at the end of June we can also start planning for a break away with the kids. With this in mind I’ve come up with some ideas for places to visit in South East Queensland.
The Scenic Rim region is a great choice for a mini-break or day trip and is only an hour to an hour and a half from Brisbane. The region encompasses Tamborine Mountain, Lamington National Park, Mt Barney, Beaudesert, Boonah, Lake Moogerah and Maroon, Christmas Creek and Kalbar.
If quaint country towns, ancient rainforests, sprawling green valleys, boutique wineries and spectacular scenery are a prerequisite for a weekend escape, then this region is for you. There are many ways you can enjoy this region from farm stays, food and wine trails, country cabins, glamping, walks and hikes through the rainforest, bush or lakeside camping, bed & breakfasts, mountain lodges to secluded eco-retreats.
A taste of Europe in our own backyard, Tamborine Mountain makes you feel as though you’re in another country. With interesting shops like the Cuckoo Clock shop, unique art galleries, wineries, breweries, Bavarian inspired restaurants and cafes, handmade goods galore and breathtaking views, it’s certainly a delightful place to escape to.
If you’re into hiking there are also several walking trails through ancient rainforest to cascading waterfalls, and abundant bird life to see along the way. Plus there is a manmade Skywalk above the rainforest canopy.
For a comprehensive list of things to do on Tamborine Mountain see my post HERE
Lying on the plateau of the McPherson Ranges close to the New South Wales and Queensland border, this untouched rainforest national park is exquisite with plenty of opportunities for the ultimate getaway. There is the infamous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, the historic Binna Burra Lodge, Numbinah Valley and the towns of Canungra and Beechmont.
Lamington National Park is one of the best rainforest bushwalking destinations in Queensland. It contains over 320 kilometres of walking tracks that lead to spectacular lookouts, waterfalls and some of Queensland’s most significant wilderness areas. For more information see Queensland Parks.
As the National Parks, camping areas and accommodation providers re-open, there will be plenty of options available for places to stay. Binna Burra Lodge will be re-opening soon after the bushfires that ravaged the area. They offer a range of accommodation options from glamping style safari tents, campsites, cottages to sky lodges. Whilst O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat will also re-open on 12 June 2020, offering hotel rooms, suites and separate villas.
Depending on whether you enjoy the thrill of motorised water sports such as skiing, wake boarding or jet skiing; or a spot of freshwater fishing, paddling a canoe or kayak, or just sitting back and enjoying the lakeside scenery. Lake Moogerah is a fantastic family day-tripping place to enjoy all these activities, a picnic or BBQ and for longer stays with lakeside camping available.
A few years ago we spent a weekend in the town of Esk in the Somerset region that is only a 100 kilometres north-west of Brisbane. From Ipswich you can follow the Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail, that follow the paths of early pioneers who set up supply routes extending through this region, with many heritage buildings and sites throughout the region. Or jump on your bike and follow the extraordinary Brisbane Valley Rail Trail that officially starts at Wulkuraka Station in Ipswich, and then continues to Fernvale, before looping westwards to Lowood and then continuing north to Coominya, Esk, Toogoolawah, Moore, Linville, Benarkin, and Blackbutt before finally arriving in Yarraman.
Esk is ideally located halfway between the large expanses of water of Lake Wivenhoe and Lake Somerset. Day visitors flock to Lake Somerset for sailing, fishing, water skiing and jet skiing. There is also camping at Lake Somerset Holiday Park with direct access to the water for boating and fishing, or at the pretty Somerset Park Campground on the shores of the Stanley River in Somerset Village.
Whereas Lake Wivenhoe’s primary function is to supply water for the region but is also a much-loved destination for campers, kayakers and nature lovers. Covering 33,000 hectares, the lake restricts the use of certain boats, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a relaxed break without the noise of powercraft.
To find out more about the Somerset Region see my blog post Weekend in Esk.
The Southern Downs and Granite Belt region encompasses the country towns of Warwick, Stanthorpe, Killarney, Allora and a string of friendly villages, each with their own personality.
For a weekend of indulgence in good food and wine, a trip to the Granite Belt wineries and fruit orchards surrounding Stanthorpe is a must do. Just two and a half hour drive south-west of Brisbane, this region is predominantly agricultural with apples and grapes being their main crops. It boasts around 50 wineries in the surrounding area and this is hugely popular with wine connoisseurs.
Download a Granite Belt Region map from GRANITE BELT WINE COUNTRY and take you own tour of the wineries. Or pre-book a wine tour such as STANTHORPE TOURS and let them show you around this wine lover’s paradise for the day.
During your stay in Stanthorpe take a drive out to Girraween National Park. Girraween, meaning ‘place of flowers’, is a park of massive granite outcrops, large angular tors, and precariously balanced boulders. There are spectacular wildflower displays splashing colour among the granite in springtime.
Accommodation in the region ranges from cosy cottages to glamping, country motels, luxury retreats, to farmstays. During our stay in Stanthorpe we stayed at the cosy and charming Appleblossom Cottage.
Choose from a beach escape or a hinterland extravagance to the Sunshine Coast located only a 100 kilometres north of Brisbane. The long 100 kilometre stretch of coastline from Caloundra in the south, to Noosa in the north is littered with stunning beaches.
Caloundra is renowned as being family friendly with some of the beaches having calm waters protected by the Pumicestone Passage. Maroochydore in the hub of the Sunshine Coast is also a family favourite with the Maroochy River entering the ocean at Cotton Tree, with sandy beach shores that are perfect for all types of water sports.
Cosmopolitan Mooloolaba is popular with couples looking to indulge in good food with trendy restaurants, bars and cafes lining the promenade. For great surfing and a long sandy stretch of pristine beach, Coolum is another beautiful spot on the Sunshine Coast.
Whereas Noosa on the northern end of the Sunshine Coast is a perfect paradise with stunning beaches, a national park, the Noosa River, great restaurants and cafes, boutique shopping, art galleries galore and accommodation to suit all budgets.
For a green change venture into the verdant rolling hills of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland towns of Maleny or Montville. The countryside out here is brimming with fresh produce from the farm gate to the plate, and is extremely popular with foodies and art lovers.
Maleny is 92 kilometres north of Brisbane or 45 kilometres west of the Sunshine Coast and is perched high upon the Blackall Range. There are several lookouts on the outskirts of the town that look out over the Glasshouse Mountains, showcasing its breathtaking natural beauty.
There is a great range of accommodation available in the Maleny/Montville area, including homely B&Bs, cute cottages, guest houses and Eco Resorts/Spas. For more information on accommodation options visit HINTERLAND TOURISM.
For a cool change head 90 minutes west of Brisbane to the Toowoomba region. Toowoomba is known as the “Garden City” sitting atop the Great Dividing Range, experiencing crisp mountain air and a burst of flower blooms in springtime. The annual event of Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers held in September draws a huge crowd enjoying ten days of food, wine, live music, parades and of course the beautiful flowers.
Toowoomba overlooks Australia’s largest food bowl, the Lockyer Valley that is is a sprawling patchwork of cattle paddocks, vegetables and grains. A day trip through the Lockyer Valley will reveal road side stalls selling only the best farm fresh produce and small town markets with homemade goodies.
A short driving distance from Toowoomba are two national parks at Crows Nest and Ravensbourne. Crows Nest National Park features spectacular scenery, granite outcrops, a scenic waterfall and eucalypt forests with good walking trails throughout the park. Ravensbourne National Park boasts towering trees, palm groves, trickling streams and amazing birdlife in one of the best remaining rainforests in South East Queensland.
During our stay in this region we spent a few nights at Tweeters Country Getaway at Crows Nest. This fabulous farm stay is both family friendly and dog friendly, so you can bring your furry friends. The children will be kept entertained for hours with the large variety of farm animals on the property and the adults will be equally entertained with an outdoor bar overlooking a scenic gorge and bushwalking trails.
Read more about our farmstay at Tweeters Country Getaway HERE
Only an hours drive south of Brisbane is the Gold Coast that also offers a wide array of holiday experiences for both young and old. Probably best known for its breathtaking beaches, thrilling Theme Parks, pulsing nightlife and the glamorous Surfers Paradise. However there are plenty of opportunities to escape the crowds and hype to check out some of the lesser known Gold Coast spots.
Some of my favourite Gold Coast places to stay are at Ocean Beach Tourist Park nicely tucked away at Miami Beach with great beach access; Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park on the shores of the family friendly Tallebudgera Creek and close to Burleigh Heads National Park, Burleigh Heads village and beaches; Currumbin Valley at a luxury eco retreat or bed & breakfast set amongst the green lushness of the valley; Or Coolangatta on the southern end of the Gold Coast with gorgeous beaches and a wide range of accommodation options.
For something a little different away from the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast check out the Gold Coast Tree Houses at Austinville surrounded by nature and wildlife, or Mouses House Rainforest Retreat in Springbrook, a unique chalet accommodation resort set amongst the rainforest only 47 kilometres from the Gold Coast.
I guess what I’m loving about the freedom to travel again is the fact that our country has been through a tough time in the past few years. We’ve had drought and bushfires that have decimated a large percentage of our countryside and forests. There is definitely a pull towards supporting our own backyard and travelling regionally with campaigns such as “Holiday Here This Year”, “Empty Esky” and “Stay With Them AU”. Get out there now and support Queensland regional tourism!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.