Brisbane prides itself on being a modern, sophisticated international gateway. It’s also the door to the Sunshine Coast’s immaculate beaches; the Gold Coast’s energetic, hedonistic beachside towns, Noosa and Kondalilla National Parks, Glasshouse Mountains and Queensland’s World Heritage-listed tropical rainforests.
Brisbane is self-consciously modern and justifiably proud of its fizzing nightlife. Cruising the river, hopping on or off wherever you fancy, is a prime way of seeing the sights by day, and the waterside bars, restaurants and clubs by night. But drive beyond the city suburb and you’ll discover another world.
Turn left when you reach the ocean and you’ll find yourself visiting quietly upmarket towns like Noosa, with a beach so fine that the sand squeaks when you walk on it. You’ll be able to meet koala bears in the coastal rainforest of Noosa National Park. Or abseil amongst the heights of Glasshouse Mountains – a stunning range of volcanic peaks – or go biking or trekking through the natural wonderworld of Kondalilla National Park.
Turn right at the ocean and a different world awaits. The seaside towns are high-energy centres dedicated to sun, surf, après beach and, above all, fun. (Look out for meter maids in gold bikinis in Surfers Paradise, for example, and ibis dining on open-air restaurant tables.) Turn away from the water and you’ll be amongst World Heritage-listed tropical rainforest with treetop walkways, waterfalls, glistening rock pools and quaint mountain villages.