Melbourne to Brisbane: City, Sand and Sea
Melbourne to Brisbane
Est Driving Time14-28 days
- Melbourne Street Art
- Queen Victoria Market
- City Circle Tram
- Monument Hill
- The Holbrook Submarine
- Gundagai Folklore
- Old Bus Depot Markets
- The Australian War Memorial
- Bondi Beach
- Sydney Opera House
- Taronga Zoo
- Camel Treks
- JetFighter Flights
- The Big Banana
- Whale Watching
- Splendour in the Grass
- The Big Prawn
- Surfers Paradise
- Gold Coast Theme Parks
- South Bank Parklands
Of course, with so much to see and do, you'll have to make some decisions about how to spend the time you have. An Australia motorhome rental allows you the flexibility to make this route your own, and that's why we have written it with a home on wheels in mind - be it a small sleepervan or a big RV-style rig. Jump in a vehicle, head for the open road and #LetsGoMotorhome.
Don't forget to get yourself well acquainted with Aussie road rules and customs first, by reading our Australia driving guide for motorhome travelers. Stay safe!
Leg 1 Melbourne to Albury
Est Driving Time3 hrs, 30 mins
Often referred to as Australia’s “cultural capital”, Melbourne has been declared the most liveable city in the world, is the birthplace of Australian cinema and has been recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature. In other words, this is one special city. So before you pick up your motorhome rental and drive away up toward the coast, take the time to have a look around and savour the multifaceted delights that Melbourne has to offer.
If you’re keen to embrace the arty side of the city, there are quite a number of galleries that are well worth visiting - but there’s an even more unique art experience available to those in the know. Over the last ten years or so Melbourne’s laneways, once merely utilitarian shortcuts, have transformed into displays of some of the world’s most impressive street art. The legendary urban artist Banksy himself has done work in Melbourne, although most of his art has since been painted over or destroyed (one or two are rumoured to still remain). Hosier Lane is a decent launch point for your street art exploration - from there just follow the alleyways north and see what you discover.
Those who are looking for a little shopping therapy will find a retail wonderland in the Queen Victoria Market. The sheer variety of wares on display is quite frankly staggering, and it’s not just knick knacks that you’ll find at this open air market measuring a spacious seven hectares. There’s also an intoxicating array of foods on offer - a trip to the Vic Market isn’t complete without biting into some delicious ethnic delicacy. The origins of the market stretch back to the 1870s and judging by its popularity today, it’s not about to close down any time soon.
Of course, it almost goes without mentioning that the City Circle Tram is one of the best ways to get a great overview of the inner city area. The heritage W class trams are completely free to use and go straight past major tourist attractions like Parliament House, the Princess Theatre and the Old Treasury Building. They also link to a range of other public transport options around the city, so it’s simplicity itself to transition from an inner city tour to a trip that goes a little further afield. One popular way to spend a leisurely afternoon in Melbourne is at the St Kilda Sea Baths. Whether you choose to pamper yourself with a spa treatment, enjoy a delicious casual dining or try your hand at kiteboarding.
Although it’s not technically in Melbourne itself, Phillip Island is a major highlight in the area - if you have the time, don’t miss taking the 2 hour trip south to see hordes of Little Penguins emerging from the sea at sundown. The Koala Conservation Centre is also nearby, so you can make a day of it admiring some of Australia’s cutest creatures. Wildlife cruises have over 20 years of experience in Phillip Island and its surrounds. As a major promoter of eco-tourism, Wildlife Coast Cruises have been awarded several environmental and tourism awards. Popular cruises to experience include the Seal Rocks Cruise - a two hour coastal wildlife jaunt with the opportunity to see Australia's largest fur seal colony; Twilight Bay Cruise - a cruise at dusk within the sheltered waters of Westernport Bay and Cape Woolamai Cruise where boats pass by 110 meter high ancient granite cliffs and large caves.
There are far more things to do in Melbourne City than could ever be included in any itinerary, so make sure you set aside enough time to investigate the exciting array of activities in Melbourne before picking up your Melbourne motorhome rental and setting out northeast on the Aussie road trip of a lifetime.
If you know that you want to see more of the country around Melbourne but aren't quite sure where to start, you may want to check out River Country Adventours. Based in the state of Victoria, River Country Adventours offers a wide range of tours and adventures including outback flights, canoe safaris on the Goulburn River, and eco-tourism and heritage tours throughout Victoria. Perfect for groups large and small, day trips and extended tours.
It may not be the most direct route, but those who have plenty of time on their hands may want to get to Canberra by curving around to the south-east, rather than taking the direct route through Albury. If you do choose to take the M1 and A1 toward the coast, stopping off at Rawson is a great way to break up the journey. Rawson is known to holidaymakers from Melbourne for its wide range of outdoorsy opportunities such as bushwalking, trout fishing and mountain biking and those who wish to stay the night will find Mountain Rivers Tourist Park an idyllic spot to park up for the night.
If you'd prefer to make a beeline for Canberra though, you'll want to head north and jump on the M31 as soon as you reach the outskirts of Melbourne.
Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park
After around 3 hours on the M31, it may be time to turn off the road, stretch your legs and get a little taste of Australian nature. Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park is the perfect spot to pull up and rest - maybe even take a short bush walk or enjoy a picnic lunch. If you’ve got a nose for history, make sure to check out the old abandoned gold mining relics scattered about the park and the Aboriginal rock art at Yeddonba. You can even do a little bit of prospecting yourself, although as you have to organise a special permit to do this and gold is pretty scarce these days, you may want to give this a miss. Having refreshed yourself with a short jaunt in the Aussie bush, it’s time to head on to Albury NSW, the final stop of the day, just a short half hour drive from Chiltern Mt-Pilot.
Leg 2 Albury to Canberra
Est Driving Time3 hrs, 45 mins
When you reach Albury, you’ll crossed over into New South Wales - just. In fact, Albury’s sister city Wodonga (separated by the Murray River) is still in the state of Victoria. With Canberra less than four hours away, you might want to get on the road as soon as possible, but if you’re looking for a more relaxed start to the day there are a few spots to enjoy in Albury before you set off for the Australian capital city.
Jindera Pioneer Museum, just to the north of Albury, is a great place to take the kids for a slice of authentic early Australian history. It includes the town’s original store building (dating back to 1874), a blacksmith and wheelwright shop from the same period and an authentic wattle and daub cottage. It’s hard to find a better window into the lives of the area’s early pioneers than this!
For an expansive view over Albury, head up to Monument Hill. The monument itself is the Albury War Memorial, erected in the early 1920’s and dedicated to those who served in World War I. There are a number of walking tracks around Monument Hill, perfect for spending a little time in quiet reflection.
To get a taste of the delights of the fabled Murray River, a jaunt along the Wagirra Trail is perfect. Running along the Murray’s banks from Horseshoe Lagoon to Union Bridge, this meandering path is ideal for a quick jog or a leisurely picnic morning tea.
About 40 minutes up the M31 out of Albury, you’ll come across the small town of Holbrook. Many opt to pass straight through, but for those with a nautical bent Holbrook does have a fascinating feature, the above waterline section of the HMAS Otway in Submarine Park. The submarine is the original casing of the HMAS Otway, which was purchased by the town in 1997 to honour the towns namesake, Commander Norman Douglas Holbrook VC. The highly decorated Commander Holbrook was the first submariner to win a Victoria Cross medal during WW1 for sinking a Turkish battleship in the Dardanelles. Holbrook is also home to Holbrook Submarine Museum, a unique museum with a 3D hologram detailing Commander Holbrook’s WW1 exploits, the original control room of the HMAS Otway including a working periscope and submarine living quarters, along with a huge range of submarine memorabilia including a torpedo, escape suits and an authentic Jolly Roger flag.
Less than an hour and a half north of Holbrook is the diminutive settlement of Gundagai. Although it may seem relatively unremarkable, for some reason this town has attained the status of the iconic Australian country town. Many songs, poems and stories are set here and there’s also a strong oral folklore tradition among the locals, so stopping off to stretch your legs and have a chat with some of the residents could well lead to one of the most intriguing cultural experiences of your whole trip. While you’re in town, take the time to pop in to the Gundagai tourist office where you can see a 1.2 metre tall miniature Baroque Italian palace, crafted by a local mason from almost 30,000 pieces of New South Wales marble.
Once you leave the rustic charms of Gundagai behind, you have less than two hours driving up the M31 then down along the A25 before you arrive at Australia’s capital city.
Leg 3 Canberra to Sydney
Est Driving Time3 hrs, 15 mins
*If you're starting your journey here, you can pick up a Canberra motorhome rental.
Set in its own little portion of the country, the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra’s origins as an entirely planned city are evident in the orderly layout and beautiful green spaces throughout the city. While it’s not even close to being the nation’s largest city, Canberra holds a special place in the hearts of many Australians, and not merely because it’s the seat of government. If you’re in no hurry to rush northward, it’s worth spending a few days in the capital to appreciate the many different things to do in Canberra.
If you’re travelling in the spring, among all Canberra’s attractions experiencing the colourful celebration of Floriade is an absolute must. Encompassing culture, art and a million flowering bulbs, Canberra’s exuberant celebration of spring takes place at the city’s Commonwealth Park and it’s totally free for those coming to revel in the atmosphere of new life and excitement. Dates will vary year to year, but a quick search for Floriade Canberra should swiftly set you on the right path (or see the link above). A particular highlight of the month long celebration is the NightFest: when the sun goes down, Commonwealth Park transforms into an illuminated wonderland with roving performers, live entertainment and bustling night markets. Head along in the late afternoon to experience the best of both night and day!
Speaking of markets, no matter what time of year you’re visiting Canberra the Old Bus Depot Markets held every Sunday in Kingston, just southeast of Capital Hill, are a fantastic place to sample mouthwatering cuisine, browse fine handcrafted wares and discover funky fashions. Late morning is the ideal time to head along to the markets - be sure to pick up something tasty for lunch.
The Australian War Memorial will provide a more somber experience but one certainly worth taking part in nevertheless. Located at the bottom of Anzac Parade, this incredibly detailed tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the nation of Australia over the years is both poignant and eye-opening. Moving displays, military vehicles, weapons from many different time periods and scale maps of major conflicts all combine to create an immensely immersive memorial that tells the story of Australia’s brave military men and women down the years while remaining very respectful. There’s even an area called The Kids Discovery Zone where children can learn about Australia’s part in various world conflicts, while giving them the opportunity for hands on experiences like climbing into a World War I style trench or feeling what it’s like to be in a submarine.
Overlooking the War Memorial and Parliament House is Mount Ainslie. Heading to the lookout at the top of the hill is one of the most popular activities in Canberra. If you’re feeling energetic, it’s possible to walk up the 843 metre hill but cycling and driving are also popular options. The lookout provides a brilliant view over the city, showcasing the meticulous design that went into Canberra’s layout.
Before you head on, there’s one more place you won’t want to miss especially if you’ve got the kids along: Questacon - the National Science and Technology Centre. If your child wasn’t excited about science before, they certainly will be by the time they’ve left Questacon. With colourful displays and interactive demonstrations wherever you turn, this place proves once and for all that science is anything but boring. To be honest, taking the kids may be a no more than an excuse - even adults can find themselves absorbed in the easy to understand demonstrations of how the world works.
Your route from Canberra to the seaside city of Sydney will mostly take you along major motorways, bypassing many small towns in between, but unless you’re wanting to take a three hour straight shot through from city to city, there’s one or two places where you can turn off, rest up and enjoy the unique local attractions. Take Goulburn for example. One of its main claims to fame is Rambo - the world’s largest concrete sheep, a 15 metre tall structure housing a gift shop, a wool display and a viewing platform where visitors can gaze out through the sheep’s eyes at the surrounding area. You’ll find the Big Merino on Hume Street, just off the M31 motorway exchange as you approach Goulburn.
Around two hours after you leave Rambo behind, you’ll find yourself entering Australia’s largest and most famous city, and what’s sure to be a major highlight on your road trip - Sydney.
Leg 4 Sydney to Port Macquarie
Est Driving Time4 hrs, 30 mins
*If you're starting your travels at this point, make sure to pick up a Sydney motorhome rental!
Sydney is the biggest city in Oceania, but it’s not its size that makes it really special. This is one of the most multicultural places on earth, with over 250 languages spoken and almost a third of Sydneysiders speaking a language other than English at home. That rich and varied heritage has transformed the city into a melting pot of ideas, art and culture that displays this wonderful mix in countless ways every day - from the food to the fashion, from the art to the architecture, Sydney is truly an international city.
While all the most famous Sydney attractions will doubtless be clamouring for your attention, for those who want to start slowly after the long drive the day before, the Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour is the perfect place to recapture a sense of peace. Architecture and nature have been cunningly crafted to work in concert, presenting an atmosphere of gentle serenity that seems a world away from the urban clash and clamour. Dedicate a morning to unwinding in this idyllic place and you’ll be reinvigorated for the rest of your stay.
If that sounds a little too tedious for your taste, then Bondi Beach is the way to go. Of all the things to do in Sydney, this is the most popular among holidaymaking sunseekers. Internationally recognised as one of the most popular beaches on the planet (in part thanks to the hit show Bondi Rescue, but also because it genuinely is a spectacular spot) Bondi is the place to go enjoy beach culture at its best and soak up the sun in the warmer months - Sydney weather is generally pretty forgiving, so even in spring or autumn this is still the place to be.
Bondi can get pretty crowded but for some, that’s all part of the appeal. Those who are looking for a quieter place to enjoy sun and surf should head to Sydney Harbour National Park, near South Head, and seek out Camp Cove. This lovely little spot with million dollar views doesn’t boast much in the way of waves, but its calm waters are perfect for bringing the family along or just relaxing on a sandy beach that isn’t jam packed with tourists.
Of course, one of the things that will be on everybody’s Sydney to-do list is a trip to the Opera House on Circular Quay. The best way to experience this architectural marvel is by attending a performance there but if that’s not going to work for you there are also guided tours available - both a standard one hour tour and a special ‘access all areas’ two-hour tour that kicks off at 7am and includes breakfast in the Green Room.
Another famous Sydney attraction that’s impossible to miss (but which you’ll almost certainly want to see up close) is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Crossing the bridge by car or train won’t give you much of a view, but on foot it’s a whole different story. Steps lead from either end of the bridge up onto a path that traverses the entire eastern edge of the structure. For those keen to go the extra mile, there are a couple options available to you - climb the southeastern pylon up to Pylon Lookout or harness up for the massively popular BridgeClimb.
But what about Sydney being a hub for the arts and all that? Don’t worry, there’s more than enough in this city to keep culture vultures happy for a lifetime. A good place to start is Surry Hills. This affluent eastern suburb is renowned for its art galleries. The Brett Whiteley Studio, former home of one of Australia’s most influential artists, is open Friday through Sunday and includes not just Whiteley’s art but also his sketchbooks, memorabilia and photographs. The Badger and Fox Gallery is a real treat for art lovers, housed in a heritage-listed terrace building and home to a prestigious range of both Australian and international art - works by Whiteley, Dobell and Picasso are all on display and on sale here. The Badger and Fox is open for select exhibitions and by appointment.
It’s fairly stereotypical to list a city’s zoo as a must-see attraction but Sydney’s Taronga Zoo really is remarkable. A not-for-profit outfit with a strong emphasis on wildlife conservation and educating people to ensure that the species housed at Taronga continue to thrive in the wild for many years to come, this zoo makes sure that whatever it gains from those who come to see its magnificent creatures is channeled back into supporting the natural world. Home to more than 4,000 animals from 340 different species, Taronga Zoo is an awe-inspiring showcase of biodiversity. This is the perfect outing for kids and adults alike - certainly not to be missed if you have the time.
There’s virtually no end to the amount of things to do in Sydney but eventually it will be time get back in your campervan rental and embark on the next stage of your journey.
You’ll want to set out fairly early when you leave Sydney - there’s more than 4 hours of driving ahead of you and it’s unlikely that you’ll be doing it all in one big block. After heading up the M1 for a little over two hours, you’ll find yourself in the city of Newcastle. After the Sydney to Newcastle stretch, you’ll at least want to stop off for a coffee or a breath of fresh air but if you feel like sticking around for a little longer than that, there are plenty things to do in Newcastle.
Newcastle Beach is popular amongst swimmers and surfers alike - if you’ve brought your board along, now is the perfect time to break it out! Although the surf’s not as good, nearby Nobby’s Beach is a great, safe alternative if you have younger kids.
For the adventurous among you (both young and old) TreeTop Adventure Park offers high wire thrills that are both safe and a little scary. Brilliant for building confidence and getting a little bit of adrenaline going, this is a place where you can push your limits in a controlled environment.
If you’re hunting for something just a little bit out of the ordinary, try Lock Up: a former police station from the 1860’s. It now houses artist studios, a contemporary art program and even old jailhouse relics like an original padded cell, complete with horsehair padding on the walls. A little creepy perhaps, but certainly not something you’ll see every day.
Moving on from Newcastle, getting on the A1 and driving north for a little under 3 hours will bring you to the coastal town of Port Macquarie.
Leg 5 Port Macquarie to Ballina
Est Driving Time4 hrs, 45 mins
You could be forgiven for thinking that Port Macquarie may not have a lot to offer. After all, it’s a smallish town halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. However, you’d be very, very wrong. It may have a population of less than 50,000 but Port Macquarie has the attractions, excitement and opportunities of a much larger place. If you’re planning to spend a little time in Port Macquarie before heading on up toward the Gold Coast, take a look below at some of the amazing experiences that the town can offer you.
When most people think of camel treks, it’s the sands of some Middle Eastern nation that spring to mind but not many realise that you can discover this exotic experience right here in Australia. Take a scenic and fun-filled journey along Lighthouse Beach on one of these “ships of the desert” and find yourself regaled with fascinating stories, facts and history about such utterly unique creatures. Dolphins are frequently spotted frolicking offshore and in migration season (primarily June-November) whales are often seen off the coast as well. A camel safari makes for a great family day out, but even if you don’t have any kids in tow this is a one of a kind experience you’ll not soon forget.
Trekking across the sands is all very well, but sometimes you’d rather be relaxing in the shade with a glass of wine close to hand, gazing out over a beautiful vineyard. If that sounds like a bit of you, then you need to take a drive to Bago Vineyards and Maze. Not only do they welcome visitors to their cellar door to sample vintages, you can also get a platter loaded with local cheeses and unwind in the shade of the pergola. Have kids with you? No problem! While you indulge in the finer things in life, they can wear themselves out running around the Bago hedge maze. If the wine, cheese, views and kid’s entertainment isn’t enough to lure you, they also host live jazz concerts on the second Sunday of every month.
For a day out that the whole family will love, head about twenty minutes west of Port Macquarie to the town of Wauchope, where you’ll Timbertown - an entire heritage village recreated to demonstrate the struggles and triumphs of early pioneers. Steam engines, bullock teams, horse and cart transport - taking a trip to Timbertown really is like stepping back in time to hardier, more simple age. Every aspect of the place has been lovingly crafted in a tribute to the men and women who built Australia from the ground up - immersive, educational and fun, this is the ideal family outing!
It’s the secret dream of many a man (and some women too!) to take to the skies in a jet fighter plane. As the Top Gun soundtrack soars in your mind, you’d take wing with the raw power of a deadly machine surrounding you. When you’re in Port Macquarie, this is a dream which can come true. With JetFighter, based at the Port Macquarie Airport just west of the town, you can experience the ultimate adventure ride in an L-39C Albatros fighter jet, accelerating to 900 kph under the guidance of one of the nation’s best military trained pilots. The flight can be tailored to your comfort level, with maneuvers ranging from mild to wild. We’re not going to sugar coat it: this isn’t cheap by any standard but for those with the money to spend and a dream to fulfill, this is your perfect opportunity.
Once you leave Port Macquarie, driving for about two hours will bring you to Bonville, a small town that would be relatively unremarkable except for its Butterfly House which accommodates more than 400 butterflies in an indoor subtropical rainforest setting. There’s something wondrous and uniquely refreshing about surrounding yourself with these delicate creatures.
15 minutes further up the A1 from Bonville is the coastal city of Coffs Harbour. While it’s likely that you’ll just be passing through, it’s worth making a bit of a detour to see another of Australia’s ‘big things’: The Big Banana of Coffs Harbour, the world’s largest banana structure, created to celebrate the industry that the city was built on. There’s also a variety of activities available around the Banana, including ice skating, whale watching and tobogganing.
Those looking to stretch their legs a little will find a beautifully rugged sanctuary in Muttonbird Island, found at the end of the Coffs Harbour marina. Providing sweeping vistas over the surrounding area, this is also a heaven for bird lovers - it’s one of the only accessible areas in Australia where flocks of wedge-tailed shearwaters nest.
From Coffs Harbour you’ll continue for a little over two and a half hours up the Pacific Highway, beside the Clarence River, across Chatsworth Island and through Broadwater National Park till you reach your destination: Ballina.
Leg 6 Ballina to the Gold Coast
Est Driving Time2 hrs
*If this area is where you'd like to begin your trip, just pick up a Byron Bay campervan rental.
Although you may be eager to head straight on to the famed surf and shopping of the Gold Coast, there are one or two things that you might want to see around the town of Ballina before you strike northward again. For those ticking off a ‘Big Things’ checklist, you need to swing by the Ballina Bunnings. There you’ll find The Big Prawn, the world’s largest prawn. The oversized crustacean was actually okayed for demolition by the council in 2009, but they community rallied around their orange icon and eventually the local Bunnings hardware store stepped in and rescued prawn, moving it to a spot overlooking the Bunnings car park.
This is also a great area to see migratory whales breaching off the coast. You’ll be most likely to see them between June and November (sometimes as early as May) and many of the viewing points around the area have been slated for major upgrades. Ballina Head, Flat Rock and Lennox Head are all ideal spots to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures.
For even more whale watching vantage points, shoot about half an hour up the coastal road to Byron Bay. Both Broken Head and Cape Byron are perfect places to see Southern Right and Humpback whales on their way south - but it’s not whale watching that Byron Bay is most well known for. If you’re taking a winter road trip (because, let’s be honest: it never gets that cold in coastal Australia) you’d be mad not to time it so you’re in Byron Bay for the Splendour in the Grass music festival. Not only is it Australia’s biggest event on the winter festival circuit, it’s also among the most acclaimed music fests in the world, drawing an incredible range of artists, including massively popular top billings like Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, Blur and Florence + The Machine, every year.
From Byron Bay, it’s just an easy hour and a half to the fabled Gold Coast - be sure to turn off the M1 onto the Gold Coast Highway to make the most of the coastal views heading in to this legendary location.
Leg 7 Gold Coast to Brisbane
Est Driving Time1 hr, 30 mins
*If you're beginning your journey at this end of the country, make sure to pick up a motorhome rental from Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
Where to start? The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most popular tourism destinations, a true entertainment capital which caters to holidaymakers of every age and persuasion. So no matter what constitutes your ideal vacation, you’ll find something that appeals directly to you on the Gold Coast.
One of the things that originally turned the Gold Coast into an international tourism phenomenon, and still draws countless visitors every year, is the beaches. From Rainbow Bay to South Stradbroke Island, you’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to picking your spot in the sand. Which beaches you choose will come down to what kind of experience you’re looking for. To jump on your board and catch some of the best surf on Australia’s east coast, try Burleigh Beach, a place that’s hosted many international surfing competitions.
If you’re really wanting to get away from it all and enjoy a little peace and quiet, a long walk along Bilinga Beach is the way to go. Those who’d rather immerse themselves in Gold Coast culture at its best need look no further than Surfers Paradise - it’s an ideal spot for people watching, is just a short walk from a generous selection of shops and cafes, and on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings you’ll find its famed beachfront markets at the Esplanade.
Of course there’s far more to the Gold Coast than just its beaches. Another huge draw for those who make their way to the GC are its theme parks. From the cinematic rides and attractions of Warner Bros Movie World to the aquatic animals of Sea World, both young and old will be thrilled and amazed by the incredible variety of entertainment on offer. It would take at least a week to experience all the theme parks on the Gold Coast, so you’ll have to choose carefully to find one or two that you’ll really love. Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast is perfect for grown ups looking to cool off and get the adrenaline pumping, while Dreamworld offers a range of kid-friendly attractions featuring cartoon characters that children worldwide know and love. Movie World is great for film fans of all ages, and those who love wildlife will revel in the performances at Sea World.
If the beaches and theme parks fail to get you excited, a little retail therapy might do the trick. The recently reinvented Chevron Renaissance at Surfers Paradise is a great place to start, hosting fashion outlets, quality restaurants and buzzing cafes. Follow up with a stroll along High Street at the bottom of Hilton Surfers Paradise to find a vibrant mix of international, national and local retailers as well as a generous al fresco dining selection and the renowned La Sainte hair salon. But if it’s bargains you’re after, the place to go is Harbour Town in Runaway Bay. The outlet centre boasts over 220 stores, all of which offer at least 30% off normal retail prices. You’ll find a huge range of well-known international brands here, so it’s worth at least an hour or two of your time - you never know what kind of deals you’ll find at Harbour Town.
But if you’ve come to the Gold Coast to party, it’s the nightlife you’ll want to know about. Sophisticated and low key, 1 two 3 Lounge Bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a casual cocktail with a group of friends. Hunting for the best dance club in the city? Check out Platinum Nightclub in Broadbeach. Widely known as party central, Platinum regularly hosts massively popular events like Big Day Out official after parties and Summafieldayze. For a more sophisticated experience, head to Skypoint on Surfers Paradise Boulevard. Located at the very top of one of the world’s tallest residential towers, Skypoint offers unparalleled views over the city and an exclusive ultra-cool atmosphere characterised by chilled beats and exquisite cocktails.
Unfortunately there’s only so much you’ll be able to fit into your stay on the Gold Coast before you hit the road for the last time and take the hour and a half trip up to Brisbane.
Recently declared one of the most beautiful cities on earth, the capital of Queensland is a sparkling gem in the region’s crown, well known for its lush green spaces, modern architecture and the winding ribbon of the Brisbane river that wends its way through the city to Moreton Bay. The final destination on your epic east coast road trip provides a fitting bookend to the journey, allowing you luxuriate in the leafy surroundings of this picturesque city.
To experience Brisbane’s beauty at its best, you need look no further than the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mount Coot-tha. Not to be confused with the City Botanic Gardens in the CBD, this 56 hectare paradise at the base of the city’s highest mountain is recognised as Queensland’s premier subtropical botanic gardens. It’s divided into several zones, one of the most famous being the Japanese Garden, faithfully crafted in line with Japanese garden design concepts but featuring native Australian flora. There is no better place in the city to spend a little quiet time after the craziness and excitement of your long trip.
One Brisbane attraction your kids won’t want to miss is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This is the world’s oldest and largest koala sanctuary and is one of the very few places in the world where visitors are allowed to hold these cuddly critters for free. For very young ones (3 to 5 years old) Lone Pine has a program specially designed to teach them about animals and conservation through stories, games, crafts and animal enrichment tasks. There’s far more than just koalas here - kangaroos, platypus, Tasmanian devils and echidnas are just some of the native creatures you’ll encounter. As the icing on the cake of a brilliant family road trip, it doesn’t get much better than this.
To sample the beating cultural heart of the city, there’s no better place to go than Brisbane Powerhouse. Built as a power station on the banks of the Brisbane River in the 1920’s, the venue was transformed into an arts and culture hub at the turn of the millennium. With a year round program that encompasses music, comedy, film, theatre, dance and much more, you can guarantee that no matter when you drop by the Powerhouse there will always be something on to catch the attention of an arts lover.
For those who want to spend a casual afternoon people-watching and enjoying the atmosphere of the city, head to South Bank Parklands. You’ll find a bit of everything here, from rainforest to riverfront promenade, fine foods and a Ferris wheel. Stroll down a bougainvillea arbour or take a dip at the pristine man-made Streets Beach. Taking a scenic ride on the Wheel of Brisbane is a particular favourite for many visitors. How you choose to enjoy the Parklands is up to you but do make the effort to come down to this multifaceted attraction - it’s certainly not a visit you’ll regret.
As with any big city, it’s only once you begin to explore the place that all its secrets make themselves known, so keep your eyes and ears open as you walk the streets of Brisbane - you never know what treasures you’ll discover.
With so many things to do in Brisbane, you may want to consider starting out here and doing the trip in reverse - picking up a campervan hire in Brisbane is a breeze, so don’t discount a north to south journey if the fancy takes you.
Whichever way you choose to travel (renting a campervan in Australia gives you so many options) this eastern Australian odyssey will leave you with countless memories and stories to tell, and wishing that you had much more time to explore all the wonders of this marvellous region.
- Comfortable walking shoes
- A couple jerry cans of water
- Bathing suit
- Evening wear (for the Gold Coast nightlife)
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