10 best family day trips from Brisbane with boys
Written by Esther Carter
If you’re tired of the usual weekend activities, mix it up and get out of town for the day. There are tonnes of brilliant outdoor adventures within a couple of hours of Brisbane. Here’s our pick of the best family day trips from Brisbane!
Mountain biking trails
South East Queensland has some great mountain biking trails, so load up the bikes, and get into some downhill action. There are some stunning tracks around the Sunshine Coast Hinterland including the beautiful Glass House Mountains.
More fantastic trails can be found at Hidden Vale Adventure Park, where $10 gets you all day access to all trails 7am -7pm, 7 days a week. Located at 617 Grandchester Mt Mort Rd, Grandchester.
Lamington National Park
A little further afield is the World Heritage listed, Lamington National Park, where you’ll find O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, set in the unspoilt sub-tropical rainforest; home to kangaroos, wallabies, and a huge assortment of native birds. You can take a walk with a park ranger who will help identify the birds you see go it alone on one of several bushwalking trails of varying degrees of difficulty.
You can clamber up an 18-metre high bush tower, scream out loud as you whizz down the flying fox, get close to birds of prey, or just meander down a track to breathtaking waterfalls. Check for a list of current activities. If you want to stay the night there is a variety of accommodation options available, and an onsite café and restaurant. There is also a camping ground within the National Park.
Location: The end of Lamington National Park Rd, a 2 hour drive from Brisbane. Please be aware the drive from Canungra to O’Reilly’s is on a very windy road.
If it’s an island adventure you’re after, then jump aboard the ferry to Brisbane’s secret island, Coochiemudlo in Moreton Bay. Grab some bikes (tandem cruisers, kids’ bikes, and tag-along buggies) and explore, or rent a SUP and perfect your Stand-Up Paddleboard technique. The island is only 4km around, so biking is a perfect way to find your own little beach cove. For more adventurous kids, sea kayaking around the whole island takes about two hours.
The inexpensive ferry operates every 30 minutes from early morning until late evening from Victoria Point Jetty, Masters Avenue, Victoria Point. It’s a 20-minute ride to Coochie. There’s no need to book in advance. There are a couple of cafes for snacks, and a few different accommodation options if you want to stay over.
St Helena Island
This second island adventure is less about water activities and more about the history of Brisbane’s only off-shore penal colony St Helena Island, which was in use from 1867-1932. You can’t visit the island independently, so you’ll need to board the Cat-o-Nine-Tails catamaran for the 30-minute crossing. After disembarking, you’ll have to serve time as an inmate and be guided by a band of actors, singers and minstrels.
The day tour is a guided dramatisation of what life was like for those interned on St. Helena back in the day, and includes great views across the bay back to Brisbane, and tucker at lunchtime. For the truly brave, there is a night-time tour of the island that includes being marched to the dramatic ruins and through the island’s cemetery for a spooky experience full of colourful stories of those who never left the island. Tours run daily but must be booked in advance. They depart from William Gunn Jetty, Wyvernleigh Close, Manly.
There is some serious outdoor adventure waiting for kids of all ages at Thunderbird Park. They have a wide variety of activities for day-trippers and overnight visitors including extreme ziplining, treetop challenge, Thunderegg fossicking, rock pools, glow worm tours and laser skirmish.
Nearby is Gallery Walk, where you’ll find treats galore including fudge, ice-cream and handmade chocolates. Tamborine Mountain is a one hour drive from Brisbane.
A Day on the Downs
Come up to the top of the Great Dividing Range to Toowoomba, and get some mountain air into your lungs.
Start off the day by climbing Table Top Mountain. Now this is no casual bushwalk but it is easily achievable with a moderate level of fitness. Climbing Table Top is more of a clambering and scaling of rocks, with a bit of bush walking thrown in for good measure. The kids will get a great sense of achievement by reaching the top, plus there are spectacular views of the Lockyer Valley and beyond to take in. We wouldn’t recommend the climb for kids under 6, or if you have really bad knees, back or ankles. The climb will take around 1 ½ to 2 hours. You will need to take water and snacks as there is nothing at the top. Access to the start of the trail is via South Street and Table Top Drive.
Toowoomba is known as the garden city, so while you’re there, make sure you spend some time in one of the fantastic parks. Our favourites are Queens Park in the CBD, with stacks of playground equipment and the botanical gardens; and Picnic Point (closest to Table Top Mountain) for its magnificent views, café and two playgrounds.
If you love street art, download the mural map, grab an ice-cream from Nitrogenie and wander the alleys of the CBD to find each of the amazing murals painted over the last few years as part of the annual First Coat Festival. Prepare to be astounded!
There’s much more to do than you could fit into one day, so why not make a weekend of it. There are plenty of accommodation options in Toowoomba, and the city is bursting with excellent places to eat and drink.
If you’re looking for a great country experience close to Brisbane, head to the Jondaryan Woolshed, the oldest working woolshed of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The whole family will love the relaxed rural setting with acres to run free. The kids can meet horses, goats and maybe even help shear a sheep. There’s a self-guided tour of the old shearer’s woolshed and museum village. When you get hungry, you’ll experience authentic country hospitality at the Woolshed Café or visit the Damper Hut for delicious Devonshire Teas or Ploughman’s Lunch. Located at 264 Jondaryan-Evanslea Rd, Jondaryan, just over two hours drive from Brisbane.
Less than an hour north of Brisbane is Bribie Island, a 34-kilometre long sand island that is about one-third uninhabited national park. Surf mad kids can boogieboard the small break on the ocean-side of the island, while families with littlies will enjoy the sheltered swimming beaches on the Pumicestone Passage side. There are some easy bushwalks, suitable for younger children including The Banksia, Palm Grove and Melaleuca walks, or you can bring the bikes and cycle along the foreshore.
After all that fun, the kids will be starving, so grab some fish and chips and find a spot under a shady tree. There are lots of different camping sites on the island, if you want to make a weekend of it.
Queen Mary Falls
A day in the outdoors doesn’t have to be strenuous. Take a short two kilometre hike around the Queen Mary Falls circuit, and be rewarded with misty views of the waters plunging 40 metres over Queen Mary Falls. You’ll feel the waterfall’s cool spray, and then paddle your feet in the creek at the bottom as you listen to the calls of the bird-life that abounds in the rainforest. The falls are located in the Main Range National Park, near Boonah, about a two hour drive from Brisbane. There are many sign-posted lookouts on the drive to the falls that are worth stopping at.
Kids of all ages will love wading in the shallows to meet the wild bottlenose dolphins that visit every evening at sunset. They can even hand-feed the dolphins under the guidance of the resort’s eco-rangers. There are plenty of other activities for all ages, including snorkelling through sunken shipwrecks, exploring the island aboard fat-wheeled beach bikes, or get up high by parasailing. The Tangalooma Island Resort is a 75-minute catamaran cruise from Holt Street Wharf, Pinkenba. There are four departures daily: 7:00am, 10:00am, 12:00 noon, and 5:00pm, with several return trips daily. Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island is a perfect daytrip, or if you want to make it a family weekend get-away, there’s a range of accommodation options.
We hope these have given you some inspiration to get out and explore South-East Queensland with your boys.
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