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Queensland road trips that are anything but ordinary
Crank down the windows and crank up the radio, you've got places to be this weekend.
Queensland was just made for road trips. Its weather is spot-on for outdoor pursuits year-round. Its landscapes celebrate the coast, the forest, the mountains and the outback. And its activities include everything from heart-pumping white water rafting to family-friendly animal encounters.
So why would you deny yourself the chance to get out and explore? The answer: no reason whatsoever. Here are our top five road trip ideas to fuel your travel addiction.
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Where can you go?
Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Here's one for the bushwalkers and the escapists. It's a short drive up north but it's so rich in hiking trails and small towns that you'll need the weekend to return feeling complete.
The mountains loom in the distance and even though the drive follows the coast, you'll be so lost in forest that you'll hardly realise it as you meander through Beerburrum and call in at the Glasshouse Mountains Lookout for that romantic view.
Drive up to the Landsborough and hike one of its many forested walks or continue the drive up to Mapleton and Flaxton to relish in the local vineyards' tipples. Then hook back through Woodford – best known for its folk festival – and across to Mount Mee for even more spectacular views and forested walks.
- Ideal for: Adventure seekers, outdoorsy types.
- Distance: 252km roundtrip.
- Top road trip stops: Glass House Mountains Lookout, Landsborough, Flaxton Gardens, Mount Mee.
- Best time to drive: Autumn and winter offer the most pleasant weather for driving and hiking.
Spit up some sand at one of Australia's national treasures. Not for the faint-hearted, you'll need a good set of wheels to let loose on Fraser Island as it only permits 4WDs onto its shores. If you don't have one handy you can park your car on the mainland and take the ferry over.
At just over eight hours of driving, be prepared to swap drivers or take this one in your stride over a long weekend.
You'll uncover natural wonders such as the Champagne Pools where water bubbles over volcanic rock, shipwrecks dating back to 1935, freshwater lakes, lighthouses and 75 Mile Beach. Named because it's, well, 75 miles long.
- Ideal for: Off-road adventure, coastal exploration, beach bumming.
- Distance: 804km roundtrip.
- Top road trip stops: If you've time to spare, pop by Bribie Island, Sunshine Coast, Eumundi and Maryborough.
- Best time to drive: Anytime is a good time to visit Fraser Island, however, if you wish to witness the whale migration, submit your leave for sometime between May and November.
The Lost World/Scenic Rim
Like something out of the Jurassic Park series, The Lost World trail is a giant step back in time. Ancient trees tower overhead, razorback mountains loom in the distance and the scuttling of creatures hidden among the foliage pricks your ears. The good news is that there aren't any man-eating dinosaurs in your midst, the bad news is there is no Chris Pratt either.
Undeniably a trip for those who like to lace up their hiking boots and for curious kids of all ages, on top of hiking trails The Lost World offers horse riding, 4WDing, rockpool fishing and dairy farm experiences.
It's only an hour out of Brisbane so it's great for anyone who tends to ask, "Are we there yet?" and has a wide variety of driving trails to put those four wheels through their paces once you're in the area.
- Ideal for: Relaxing weekends, nature walks, families.
- Distance: 351km roundtrip.
- Top road trip stops: Christmas Creek, Lamington National Park, Springbrook, Tree Top Walk, Tamborine Mountain (if time, otherwise you can catch the view from Tamborine on your way back to Brisbane).
- Best time to drive: Spring to summer (September to December) is storm season in the Scenic Rim and is best avoided unless you want to catch a light show. Travel during autumn or winter for optimal weather conditions.
Cool, calm and utterly indulgent, Stanthorpe has all the makings of a romantic weekend getaway. Particularly if you're a foodie.
Just skirting the NSW border, this former tin miner's town has a unique microclimate that has transformed it into a land of wines, fruits, vegetables and microbreweries. Follow your nose as you hop from vineyard to vineyard, or follow your tastebuds towards artisan jams and preserves made the way they were supposed to – with love.
For a fun day out, go apple picking or simply settle into your abode and watch the world drift by.
- Ideal for: Romantic getaways, family weekends.
- Distance: 440km.
- Top road trip stops: Peaks Crossing, Warwick, Mount Marley, Girraween National Park.
- Best time to drive: Cool in summer and cosy in winter, there's no poor time to make this trip. Put it on your calendar now.
Queensland is queen when it comes to blissful beach escapes. There's no denying that. But if you feel the call to hop the border, Byron Bay is where it's at.
The sleepy coastal town is a rite of passage for surfers seeking killer waves, hippies looking to let their hair down and festival punters of the indie persuasion.
Plus, anyone looking to jump on a trend before it becomes too hot can hightail it over for the budding food scene, which features fresh local seafood, organic ingredients and modern and contemporary fine dining – for anyone looking to get a little fancy.
- Ideal for: Beach bums, festival fiends, surfers.
- Distance: 348km roundtrip.
- Top road trip stops: Gold Coast, Tweed Heads, Brunswick Heads.
- Best time to drive: Again, there's no poor time to visit Byron. Steer clear during festival season, though, if that's not your scene, as the place packs out and the prices soar.
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