24 Hours in Queensland – A Day-Trip Guide to Australia’s Sunshine State

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Traveler Profile: Katie, UK

Location: Queensland, Australia

Time of Year: Late spring

Travel Goals: Great photography locations, snorkeling, history, long walks 

Queensland, Australia, is a region of immense natural beauty and cultural richness, offering travelers diverse experiences. Queensland encapsulates the essence of adventure and relaxation from the pristine beaches of the Gold Coast to the vibrant city life of Brisbane and the untouched wilderness of its national parks. This guide provides my perspective on spending an unforgettable day in Queensland, meticulously curated to include a blend of nature, culture, and culinary delights. I’ve carefully selected each activity and destination to showcase the unique beauty and diversity of the region, ensuring travelers make the most of their day from sunrise to sunset.

Sunrise Walk at Burleigh Head National Park

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Darren Tierney

Burleigh Head National Park is a sanctuary where the rainforest meets the sea, offering visitors a unique opportunity to start their day with a serene sunrise walk. The Oceanview Walk, a well-marked trail along the headland, provides panoramic views of the Coral Sea and the Gold Coast skyline. As the first light of day illuminates the landscape, walkers can witness the vibrant colors of the sunrise while the sounds of the ocean and local wildlife create a tranquil ambiance. This area is a feast for the eyes and a haven for nature enthusiasts, with the chance to spot koalas, echidnas, and an array of birdlife. I took my Nordic Walking poles with me!

Breakfast at Paddock Bakery, Miami

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Image credit: Shutterstock / Makistock

Nestled in the heart of Miami, Paddock Bakery is a culinary gem known for its commitment to quality, locally sourced ingredients, and its rustic, inviting atmosphere. This bakery and café is housed in a restored Queenslander, surrounded by lush gardens, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. The menu features a variety of options, from artisan wood-fired sourdough bread to innovative dishes like the Dippy Eggs, a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The dedication to freshness and quality is evident in every bite, providing a delightful start to the day.

Snorkeling at Moreton Island

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Darren Tierney

Moreton Island, a jewel in the Queensland coast, offers one of the most exquisite snorkeling experiences around the Tangalooma Wrecks. The wrecks, a group of sunken ships, have formed an artificial reef, teeming with marine life. The crystal-clear waters provide visibility to explore the vibrant coral formations, schools of colorful fish, and perhaps even encounter turtles and dolphins. This underwater adventure is accessible to snorkelers of all skill levels, making it a must-do activity for those looking to immerse themselves in Queensland’s marine biodiversity.

Lunch at Eat Street Northshore, Brisbane

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / 925am

After plenty of exercise, I was hungry for a tasty lunch. Eat Street Northshore, a dynamic food market located along the Brisbane River, is a feast for the senses. This culinary hotspot features an array of food stalls and containers offering dishes from around the globe. From authentic Asian street food to traditional Australian fare, the options are endless, catering to all tastes and dietary preferences. The vibrant atmosphere is enhanced by live music and performances, making it not just a place to eat but a cultural experience. The open-air setting and views of the river provide a relaxed environment to enjoy a midday meal.

An Afternoon at Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / EQRoy

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane highlights the magic of contemporary art in Australia, showcasing a diverse collection from Australia, Asia, and the Pacific. The exhibitions at GOMA are thoughtfully curated, featuring works from emerging artists to established names in the art world. The gallery’s dynamic programming includes interactive installations, multimedia displays, and major thematic exhibitions, offering something new and engaging for every visitor. GOMA’s commitment to showcasing indigenous art provides a profound insight into the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Sunset at Kangaroo Point Cliffs

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Image credit: Shutterstock / Maythee Voran

The Kangaroo Point Cliffs offer an unparalleled vantage point for watching the sunset over Brisbane. The cliffs, located just across the river from the CBD, provide panoramic views of the city skyline, the Brisbane River, and the surrounding landscape. As the day transitions to evening, the setting sun casts a golden glow over the city, creating a picturesque scene. This natural spectacle is a peaceful way to reflect on the day’s adventures and appreciate Queensland’s capital’s beauty.

A South Bank Feast

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Steven Bostock

South Bank, Brisbane’s premier lifestyle and cultural destination, offers diverse dining options along the riverfront. South Bank caters to all palates from upscale restaurants to casual eateries, emphasizing fresh, local ingredients and innovative cuisine. The area is known for its lively atmosphere, with street performers and live music adding to the dining experience. The riverside setting provides a stunning backdrop for an evening meal, making it the perfect way to conclude a day in Queensland. 

I chose Bacchus Restaurant, located within the Rydges South Bank in South Brisbane, which epitomizes the essence of fine dining with a focus on European cuisine. Situated on the podium level, the restaurant offers an environment that combines luxury with comfort, featuring sparkling chandeliers, opulent furnishings, and eclectic music. The venue engages all senses, boasting views of a serene pool and an open kitchen where guests can witness the culinary magic unfold.

The menu at Bacchus offers various dishes catering to sophisticated palates. Guests can start their dining experience with refined entrées such as Wagyu karubi, salsa verde, herb salad, or Oscietra caviar served with pan brioche and sour cream. The main courses further elevate the dining experience, with highlights including dry-aged Black Angus sirloin on the bone, complemented by jus and a selection of sides like roast potato, mixed leaf salad, and broccolini. 

Overnight Accommodation – QT Gold Coast Hotel

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Darren Tierney

QT Gold Coast Hotel epitomizes the vibrant spirit and laid-back lifestyle of Queensland’s Gold Coast. Situated in the heart of Surfers Paradise, this hotel is renowned for its eclectic design, vibrant atmosphere, and exceptional service. The rooms and suites are stylishly appointed, offering comfort and luxury with stunning ocean or hinterland views. The hotel boasts a range of amenities, including a spa, outdoor swimming pool, and several dining options that celebrate local produce and culinary innovation. QT Gold Coast is the perfect base for exploring the region or simply relaxing and soaking up the coastal vibe.

When to Travel to Queensland

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / kitzcorner

The best time to visit Queensland depends on the region and the activities you’re interested in. Queensland’s climate varies significantly from the tropical north to the temperate south.

Tropical North Queensland (including Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, and Daintree Rainforest): The best time is during the dry season from May to October. During these months, the weather is cooler, less humid, and there’s lower rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the rainforests and reefs.

Southeast Queensland (including Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast): This region can be visited year-round, but the most pleasant weather is experienced from March to May and from September to November. These months offer warm temperatures and lower humidity, perfect for beach activities and exploring the natural hinterlands.

Outback Queensland: The winter months from June to August are ideal, offering sunny days and cool nights, which are perfect for exploring the natural beauty and historical sites without the extreme heat of summer.

Summer (December to February): This period is very hot and humid, especially in the north, and is also the wet season in tropical areas, which might restrict some activities due to cyclones and floods.

Winter (June to August): Cooler and drier, making it ideal for visiting the tropical and coastal regions.

How to Get There

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Olena Yakobchuk

By Air: International and Domestic Flights: Brisbane Airport (BNE) is Queensland’s primary international gateway, with Cairns Airport (CNS) also offering some international services. There are direct flights from major cities around the world to Brisbane, and from other Australian capitals to various airports throughout Queensland, including the Gold Coast (OOL), Sunshine Coast (MCY), and Townsville (TSV).

By Road: Driving: Queensland has an extensive road network connecting all major towns and cities. The Bruce Highway runs from Brisbane to Cairns along the coast, providing access to many coastal attractions. The Warrego Highway, Landsborough Highway, and other inland routes connect to the Outback.

Bus Services: Various companies operate long-distance bus services connecting Brisbane with major towns and tourist destinations across Queensland.

By Rail: Long-Distance Trains: Queensland Rail Travel operates several scenic long-distance train services, including the Tilt Train connecting Brisbane with Rockhampton and Cairns, and the Spirit of the Outback, which travels from Brisbane to Longreach.

Regional Services: Train services also connect Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and other regional areas.

Ferry Services: For access to islands like the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, and Moreton Island, regular ferry and boat services are available from coastal towns.

History of the Gold Coast

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / ChameleonsEye

The Gold Coast in southeastern Queensland, Australia, has a history that dates back thousands of years to its Aboriginal inhabitants, including the Yugambeh, Kombumerri, and Minjungbal peoples, who thrived through fishing, hunting, and gathering. European exploration in the late 18th century paved the way for settlement in the 19th century, initially driven by the timber industry and later expanded to sugarcane and dairy farming. The region’s natural beauty and climate eventually attracted tourists, transitioning the Gold Coast into a popular holiday destination. Post-World War II, the area experienced rapid development, with the tourism boom leading to high-rise construction, theme parks, and cultural festivals, making it a key tourist spot known for its beaches, skyline, and hinterland.

History of Queensland

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / ChameleonsEye

Queensland, Australia’s second-largest state, boasts a diverse history from ancient Indigenous cultures to contemporary development across agriculture, mining, and tourism. Indigenous communities have lived in Queensland for tens of thousands of years, creating sophisticated societies and sustainable environmental practices. European exploration began in the 17th century, leading to significant settlement in the 19th century, including the establishment of a penal colony in Brisbane in 1824. By 1859, Queensland separated from New South Wales, with Brisbane as its capital. The discovery of minerals spurred a mining boom, while agriculture flourished, notably in sugarcane and beef, supported by infrastructure like railways. The 20th century saw major population growth, with tourism emerging as a key sector driven by attractions like the Great Barrier Reef. Despite environmental challenges such as climate change and deforestation, efforts to protect Queensland’s natural heritage, including national parks and the Great Barrier Reef, are underway.

The Bottom Line

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Image credit: Shutterstock / worldswildlifewonders.

Embarking on this curated journey through Queensland allows you to explore the heart of its natural beauty, cultural richness, and culinary excellence. From the serene sunrise at Burleigh Head National Park to the luxurious comfort of QT Gold Coast Hotel, each moment provides an immersive experience of Queensland’s diverse offerings. 

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The post 24 Hours in Queensland – A Day-Trip Guide to Australia’s Sunshine State was republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / zstock.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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