Best Things to do in South East Queensland

Best Things to do in South East Queensland

Visiting South East Queensland is an exciting prospect. There are so many things to do when you visit, including its world-class beaches and stunning national parks.

It’s also home to some of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions including Brisbane, Ipswich, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine State boasts beautiful beaches like those on Moreton Island National Park with pristine white sand and turquoise water that will make you feel as if you’re on a tropical island far away from civilization.

In this post, I will show you some of the best things to do in South East Queensland.  Let’s dive in!

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Best Things to do in South East Queensland

Here are some of the best highlights of South East Queensland that you should check out!

1.  Visit the world’s largest fig tree

The Cathedral Fig Tree has a reputation of being the best place to hear birds singing in the morning. It is also the world’s largest fig tree!

Size – Approximately 50 metres (160 ft) high with a trunk circumference of 39 metres (128 ft). The canopy extends in a radius of approximately 30 metres (98 ft) from the trunk of the tree. Extensive aerial roots, which are now thick and interwoven, drop 15 metres (49 ft) to the forest floor, forming a curtain oriented north-west to south-east over approximately 7 metres (23 ft). The host tree has since rotted away and the fig is now a free-standing tree.

It is located in Danbulla State Forest and can be circumnavigated with an easily accessible boardwalk. Easy 100m walk to the tree from the car park, also wheelchair & pram friendly.

2. See a koala in the wild

You can’t beat the thrill of seeing a koala in the wild. These furry animals are well known for their love of eucalyptus leaves and being great jumpers (though they’re not always easy to see!). If you happen to cross paths with these rather shy creatures, you’ll know it by their distinctive fur colour and their love for high branches.

Koalas have a sleeping cycle that is opposite of most mammals, meaning they are nocturnal. This makes them harder to spot during the day because they usually rest more and move less than at night. The best time to find a koala during the day is in the early morning or late afternoon when they are more active.

Underneath are a couple of locations in South East Queensland where you can spot wild koalas.


Located within the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, Magnetic Island is the home of one of Australia’s largest wild koala populations with more than 1,000 koalas. And the best part is, they are not too difficult to spot since eucalyptus trees here are quite low. Forts Walk, the island’s popular track with a stunning panoramic view or area, is perfect for encountering wild koalas and admiring breathtaking views that stretch out across this beautiful archipelago!

Koala in South East Queensland


The bushlands surrounding Brisbane are home to many koalas.

Brisbane Koala Bushlands is home to the Stockyard Creek walking track, where you can find a viewing deck that provides a chance of spotting some snoozy koalas. The bushlands are part of the Koala Coast Network and one of the most important areas inhabited by koalas.

North Stradbroke Island

After a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland, North Stradbroke Island welcomes visitors with a vast range of nature walks. Among these trails are many opportunities to spot koalas in their natural habitat.

3. Swim with turtles at Magnetic Island

Have you ever swam with turtles before? You’ll enjoy the experience? Get hold of a mask and snorkel, pack your bags and head off to Magnetic Island. The island is home to some of the largest green turtles in the world, so it’s no wonder that this place has earned its reputation for being one of Australia’s best scuba diving destinations!

The water is shallow enough where you can just stand up and walk around, but not so shallow that it’s lost its appeal as a destination for wildlife watching.

Magnetic Island has plenty of spots for boat tours and scuba diving to explore the stunning coastline.

green turtles Magnetic Island

Great Hotels and Appartments on Magnetic Island

Pure Magnetic ( 3-star hotel) is an upscale retreat offering polished Balinese-inspired villas, plus a heated pool and beach access. Located in Nelly Bay this hotel is pretty amazing.

Another great option is Grand Mercure Apartments Magnetic Island! They offer contemporary apartments opposite the bay featuring casual units, plus outdoor pools.

Peppers Blue  (4-star hotel) is an amazing luxury pick for those wanting to really indulge during their time on Magnetic Island. Located in Nelly Bay, this hotel offers luxury rooms overlooking the water’s edge overlooking the Coral Sea and a private marina. 

Best Hotels in Magnetic Island

Holiday home The Pines
Sails On Horseshoe
Pure Magnetic Villa 8
Pure Magnetic Villa 4
Pure Magnetic Villa 1
Pure Magnetic Villa 5
Holiday home The Pines
Sails On Horseshoe
Pure Magnetic Villa 8
Pure Magnetic Villa 4
Pure Magnetic Villa 1
Pure Magnetic Villa 5
Holiday home The Pines
Sails On Horseshoe
Pure Magnetic Villa 8
Pure Magnetic Villa 4
Pure Magnetic Villa 1
Pure Magnetic Villa 5

4. Take a tour of Hervey Bay’s historic buildings and museums

Just a short drive outside of Brisbane, you’ll find the picturesque town of Hervey Bay. Unsurprisingly, its quaint coastal charm is reflected in every aspect of this once-sleepy fishing village’s culture. The town’s historic buildings and museums tell the stories of Queenslanders through their years of hardship and success with each exhibit more impressive than the last. From seeing how they’ve shaped such an incredible city from nothing to marvelling over first contact with Europeans, there’s always something new to explore!

Check out the Heritage Trail, a self-guided tour that will take you through Hervey Bay’s history. Begin by following the red trail markers as they lead you past some of Australia’s oldest standing structures such as Holy Trinity Church, which was built in 1848 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can also visit places like Convento Lourdes and St John’s Anglican Church.

You won’t want to miss out on these hidden gems when you’re visiting Hervey Bay for yourself!

Hervey Bay Whale WatchingWatching the sunset on a whale-watching cruise is a must-do when visiting Hervey Bay! You’ll get to watch whales frolic in their natural habitat and you may even spot some seals or dolphins frolicking too!

5. Get lost in Lamington National Park

Nature is a living, breathing entity. It’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s more than just what you can see. This idea is put into perfect perspective when you explore Lamington National Park in Queensland, Australia.

Home to some of the oldest trees in Australia and the lush rainforest Gondwana Rainforest, Lamington National Park has something for everyone from easy trekking paths to challenging hikes for experienced hikers looking for a challenge!

Pitch your tent or retreat to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat where you’ll find everything that will make your visit memorable and leave you with lifetime memories!

6. Visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

One of the most spectacular experiences and must-dos during any visit to South East Queensland is to make a stop at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. The sanctuary opened its doors for the first time in 1966, but it wasn’t until 1990 that koalas were introduced onsite. Today, visitors can see koalas up close and personal while they also learn about this native animal as well as how we can help protect them both here at home and abroad.

The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary provides an exceptional opportunity for Australians (and international visitors) to check out these furry creatures in their natural habitat – a beautiful forest with plenty of trees, and freshwater pools for swimming and snacking on eucalyptus leaves. With over 170 animals with their own enclosures, you’ll be sure to fall head over heels for this place.


7. Take a scenic drive through the Glasshouse Mountains

The Glasshouse Mountains are a short drive from Brisbane, and they offer stunning views of the countryside along with many waterfalls. Take your time to explore this scenic destination in Queensland.

The area is home to some of Australia’s most beautiful natural landscapes and offers locals and tourists alike plenty in terms of outdoor pursuits–hiking trails, rock climbing sites, swimming holes and so much more.

Brisbane to Cairns road trip itinerary

It’s easy to see why the Glasshouse Mountains are called that. There are abandoned mines in these mountains and you can still see where they have cut out sections of rock from some of them. The sun shone through all those clearings as it set, making for a beautiful view.

When you find yourself in the Glasshouse Mountains and have some free time, be sure to check out the famous Australian Zoo! The zoo was founded by Steve Irwin’s family, and they’ve maintained a high profile ever since he tragically passed away. You’ll see animals from all over the world like koalas and kangaroos – it’s sure to be an experience of a lifetime.

8. Hike Mount Beerwah, Queensland’s highest point

Mount Beerwah is Queensland’s highest point with a height of 4,076 feet (1,236 meters). The hike up to the summit offers some beautiful scenery as well as great views on clear days.

This is a challenging but rewarding trek into the clear green rainforest that lines Queensland’s coastlines for miles to come. You’ll be rewarded with breath-taking views of the ocean if you make it up this high!

Hikers should also be careful to watch out for brushfires because there can often be them in this area due to dry conditions.

9. Swim with turtles at Heron Island Resort in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and waters in the world. You can swim with turtles, rays, fish, dolphins, and whales along with one of many different coral reef tours offered by Heron Island Resort.

Turtle at Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park offers some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth. If you visit this park at any time during your lifetime, I highly recommend visiting Heron Island Resort. Along with swimming with turtles or other aquatic animals like rays or dolphins or whales (depending on what tour you book), there are loads of fun activities to enjoy such as kayaking through a mangrove forest where birds fly overhead and monkeys play in trees!

10. Explore Moreton Island National Park

Forget snorkelling, explore Moreton Island National Park! This island is located in Queensland and is the largest sand island in the world. Its most prominent features are its beaches. Check out some of these sights and sounds next time you’re on a vacation down under!

What cities are in South East Queensland?

Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast are three of Queensland’s most populous areas. They are all located in South East Queensland. Other notable cities in the region include Ipswich, Toowoomba, and the Lockyer Valley. The Gold Coast is a major tourist destination, while Brisbane is the state capital of Queensland. The Sunshine Coast is a popular retirement destination due to its warm climate and beautiful beaches.


Brisbane is all about the great outdoors. Brisbane, Australia’s Sunshine State capital, encourages you to take off your shoes and have a good time with your friends over a delicious meal, art and adventure.

The majority of people go to Brisbane as they approach the Gold Coast or on their way to Cairns. The city is a significant pit-stop along the journey, with a lot of hostels, youthful children, and low-cost travellers.

Brisbane has a lot to offer. It’s a really nice city with a decent quality of life. The South Bank has some fantastic dining options, as well as some great pubs in the city.

Best Places to Stay in Brisbane

There are several means to stay in Brisbane, whether it’s luxurious, middle of the line, or even camping.

Luxury Hotels 

Spicers Balfour Hotel is a boutique hotel in New Farm, just minutes from Brisbane’s CBD, which has received many awards. The Spicers Balfour Hotel’s uniqueness and style comes from the fact that it is made up of a Queenslander house and an Art Deco-style apartment block rather than a typical hotel building.

Ovolo Inchcolm in Spring Hill is both luxurious and quirky, according to a few words that spring to mind when thinking about it. Each area showcases exquisite art and quirky features, but the hotel certainly delivers on luxury. It’s all about elegance and class from the second you enter the premises.

Alex Perry Hotel and Apartments is a good option for visitors who require an apartment to stay in while not sacrificing comfort. Yes, Perry has dabbled in lodging as well, and we can assure you he’s succeeding. Perry’s statement that he is “creating apartment accommodation that feels like couture clothing” is an accurate way to describe the hotel.

Hotels and Motels

There are plenty of hotels and motels in Brisbane, so it all comes down to your preferences and budget. The Hilton, Sheraton, W, Sofitel, Hyatt Regency, and Hyatt Place are just a few of the major chains found in Brisbane. There are also several mid-range accommodation choices available ranging from Quest through to Mantra Hotels.

For a slightly more urban and edgy experience, stay at Capri by Fraser, in the city’s downtown core. The hotel was created by the award-winning Ministry of Design, who designed it to be effortlessly stylish. Vertical gardens, art installations, a 24-hour gym with an indoor heated swimming pool, and free Wi-Fi are among the amenities.

The Fleet Lane Apartments offers spectacular city views and private access to a rooftop terrace with a hot tub, sun lounges, dining areas, a zen garden, and shaded barbecue facilities. It is located 800 feet from the Brisbane River and has stunning city vistas.

Budget-friendly alternatives include self-contained flats such as Central Apartment Hotels, as well as budget accommodation like City Backpackers HQ or Brisbane Backpackers Resort.

The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast’s main attraction is its beaches, especially Surfers Paradise Beach, which is known the world over. Explore quiet neighbourhoods, a burgeoning culinary scene, and the Gold Coast’s popular theme parks after you’ve soaked up the sun on the beach.

The Gold Coast, located on Australia’s south coast, is famous for its stunning beaches and world-class surfing. This famous region covers 57 kilometres (35 miles) of coastline along the Pacific Ocean. The Gold Coast has something for everyone, from tropical rainforests to foodie delights to chilly markets to electric skies.

Luxury Hotels & Accommodation

On the Gold Coast, there are many luxurious accommodations to choose from, including luxury resorts, residences, and vacation houses.

The Ruby, a luxury billion-dollar complex that caters to families and groups on the Gold Coast, is one of several gems on the coast.
For luxury on a grand scale, book the opulent The Darling Star and settle in poolside, cocooning yourself in luxury and retreating from the rest of the world.

B&B’s and Apartments

The Gold Coast has a wide range of holiday homes available, ranging from budget lodgings to the ultra-luxurious with high-rise buildings lining the glitter strip.

If you’re searching for a more boutique-style accommodation but don’t want to spend too much, I’d recommend Avani Broadbeach Gold Coast Residences with full kitchens and spaces to unwind.

Another great option that comes with a rooftop entertaining area that’s exclusive to in-house guests is the Rhapsody Resort in Surfers Paradise. This resort is ideal for a fun night out with friends.

Sunshine Coast | Noosa |

The Sunshine Coast is a genuine subtropical getaway for people from all across the world. The location is rich in diversity, and it’s overflowing with the finest things Australia has to offer – for real.

Clean, unspoilt beaches are complemented by tropical rainforest and magnificent mountains, with villages steeped in history scattered throughout. Enjoy the morning on the beach and the afternoon in the lush hinterland from just 45 minutes away. Savour local fruits through a paddock to plate and trawler to table cuisine experience.

Luxury Hotels & Accommodation 

There are a plethora of hotels and resorts in Noosa, whether on Hastings Street or in the areas.

The Culgoa Point Beach Resort is located on a quiet beach and overlooks the Noosa River. It’s a 10-minute flat walk to Hastings Street, allowing you to enjoy both the ocean and river equally. The resort has three acres of tropical gardens and offers several water sports, a lovely pool, tennis courts, and even bike riding.

The RACV Noosa Resort is a great choice for people seeking for low-cost, high-quality accommodation. It’s ideal for couples, families, and groups because there are hotel and apartment choices. The resort has a shuttle that drops you off at Noosa Main Beach, as well as a big pool and plenty of dining options within walking distance.

Tingirana Noosa is in a prime location between Hastings Street and Noosa Beach, with luxury apartment accommodation overlooking the beach. We are located around the best of Noosa’s cafés, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and steps from the beach.

a great choice for families of all sizes is The Sebel, although it isn’t on the beachfront. It’s just down the road from the beach and overlooks the renowned Aroma Café, where many people congregate to observe others while drinking a coffee or cocktail. For individuals seeking extra living space, there are several excellent pool and apartment choices

Additional basic information on Queensland

If you are planning to go to Australia/Queensland for the first time, then I have listed some handy information for you.


English is the official language of Australia. Underneath you can find some handy English/Australian phrases as well as some handy travel phrases that might come in handy during your time in the country.

Australian English
G’day Hello
How are ya Greeting, warm welcome
Arvo Afternoon
Catch ya later Goodbye
Good on ya Good job
Dunno I don’t know
Barbie Barbecue
Bloody oath That’s true
Beaut Fantastic, wonderful, the best
Buzz off Go away
BYO Bring your own grog/alcohol (Often seen at Restaurants)
Crikey! Astonishment, disbelief
Fair dinkum True, real, honest
Fair go To give somebody a reasonable chance at something; to treat them fairly


Australia’s currency is Australian dollars (AUD), which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and one and two dollar denominations. 

Credit cards such as American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay and JCB are accepted in Australia. VISA or MasterCard can be used everywhere credit cards are accepted. American Express and Diners Club are accepted at major supermarkets, department store chains and tourist destinations. It is advised to carry multiple credit cards and a little cash with you. Merchants may impose credit card surcharges in some places and some small stores or at markets they may not accept card payments. 

Hotels and restaurants do not add service charges to your bill, and tipping is your choice whether to do it or not. If you wish to tip,   10% of the bill is standard. 

Currency exchange is widely available at banks, hotels and international airports.

Time Zones

Australia has several different time zones.

  • Norfolk Island Time | Kingston (GMT+11)
  • Australian Central Standard Time | Adelaide (GMT+9:30)
  • Australian Western Standard Time | Perth (GMT+8)
  • Christmas Island Time | Christmas Island (GMT+7)


You may need an adapter in order to plug your appliances into the power sockets: the adapter required for Australia is a Type 1 Australia plug. The plugs in Australia have two flat metal pins, forming an inverted ‘V’ shape, and occasionally a third pin in the centre. The electrical current in Australia is 220 – 240 volts, AC 50Hz.


Can I drink the tap water in Australia + drought? 

The tap water is generally safe to drink throughout Australia.

It is advised to travel with a reusable water bottle (especially in summer) so you can refill it throughout the day and stay hydrated. In most public spaces you will find drinking fountains so you can top up your bottle. 

In some rural places, it is advised not to drink tap water. There will be signs above the tap advising you not to drink it. 

Australia from time to time also battles with drought. So please be respectful and try not to waste water at all times. 


Most of Australia’s popular beaches are patrolled by lifeguards during the warmer months ( October to April). Red and yellow flags mark the safest areas for swimming and it is always recommended to swim within these monitored areas. If the beach, lake or river is not patrolled, then make sure to check signs at the entrance that will advise if swimming is safe, or check with the local government website before visiting! 

Emergency numbers 

The emergency number for police, ambulance and fire brigade in Australia is 000.

I also advise you to download the Fires near me App, especially when doing a road trip or staying in more rural areas. It will show you active fires are and when to pay extra caution. 

legal drinking age

The legal drinking age in all states and territories of Australia is 18 years old. You will need to provide proof of age, either with a driver’s license or passport.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Australia all depends on where you’re going and what you want to do.

One of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions is the Great Barrier Reef. The best time to visit the Reef is from June to October. This peak season offers some key advantages for travellers. Temperatures hover between 15 and 25 degrees, and rainfall is uncommon, which means clearer waters and better diving conditions. 

If you’re after picture-perfect days in Sydney without getting trampled, then plan your trip in October, November, late February and March. These months generally offer sunny weather, while avoiding the heat of mid-summer and school holiday crowds.

If you want to go to the heart of Australia (the Red Centre) then the best time to visit is in Autumn or Spring.  With warm days and cool nights, it is the most pleasing time to wander around Uluru.

If you have made it this far, then thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read this extensive post. If have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!



Best Things to do in South East Queensland

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