Glasshouse Mountains, Lamington National Park, Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Kangaroo Point and Boondall Wetlands.
1. Glasshouse Mountains on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland,
These volcanic peaks rear steeply from the coastal plains just inland from the Sunshine Coast. There are rainforests, waterfalls and dramatic views, as well as cute towns aplenty. If you’re after a short stroll, try the 15-minute walk through eucalypt forest, giving fantastic views of Mt Beerwah. The circuit around Tibrogargan is popular with families, allowing you to take in the view from every angle. (Allow two hours.) There’s also plenty to do in nearby Maleny: sample brews at the craft brewery, cuddle a camel at QCamel dairy, explore the lovely botanical gardens or cool off at gorgeous Gardners Falls.
2. Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park is part of a UNESCO World Heritage-listed area, the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world, and under two hours’ drive from Brisbane. The greens of Lamington’s moss, ferns and creepers are matched only by the diversity of the area’s 500 waterfalls. With more than 160km of tracks, there are plenty of walking options. Or visit O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat to feed the colourful parrots, zipline through the trees, or take to the canopy on the Tree Top Walk. Better make a weekend of it!
3. Brisbane Valley Rail Trail
Winding for 160km through forests, farms and towns between Ipswich and Yarraman, this is the longest rail trail in Australia. Don’t let the distance put you off: the well-maintained track is flat, free from cars and broken up into sections for picturesque day trips on foot, bike or horseback. The 8.5km trail from Fernvale to Lowood is a family favourite, with playgrounds, water and the all-important ice-creams at either end. The entire track can be done in stages – a great goal for older kids – piecing together the area’s landscape and history.
4. Kangaroo Point
You can’t get a much more accessible city crag than Kangaroo Point, where volcanic cliffs rise 20m from the banks of the Brisbane River. Pinnacle Sports offers three-hour climbing tasters for kids aged eight and over – a fabulous way to experience the thrills of outdoor rock climbing, while Riverlife Brisbane’s abseiling experience is offered every Friday and Saturday. If you want to expand the adventure, stroll across the Story Bridge to Howards Smith Wharves for lunch, before tackling the bridge itself. This is the only place in the world you can combine a bridge climb with an abseil: the three-hour trip takes in views and history on the way up, before a 30m abseil into the park below.
5. Boondall Wetlands
Pack a picnic and head up to the Boondall Wetlands – a massive expanse of mangroves, salt marsh and open forest perched on the edge of Moreton Bay, 15km north of the CBD. The 2km pram-friendly boardwalk is an easy introduction, with a bird hide for wildlife spotting. (Keep your eyes peeled: this area is internationally renowned for its birdlife.) There’s also a longer, bike-friendly track leading 4km to Nudgee Beach – ice-cream optional – before you return the same way. The Boondall Wetlands Environment Centre provides information and exploration ideas (including the perennial favourite – maps!), and there’s a lovely picnic area.