The best thing about Brisbane is that our amazing climate means you can get out and about and discover the unique Australian landscape year-round. You can do most of these activities at any time of the year so we’ve categorised them as closer-to-home and day trips.
Closer-to-home nature and adrenaline adventures
Meet some koala and kangaroo mates
Of course you’ll want to get friendly with the local wildlife while in Brisbane! The best place to do that in town is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Meet a koala or hand-feed kangaroos while supporting conservation efforts.
Make your way into the city from either QUT campus to catch a bus to Lone Pine or join in on a day trip with other international students organised by QUT. Once you have accepted your offer to study at QUT, keep an eye out for event details, including costs, on HiQ. Bhuma got to hold a koala – you can too! If you choose to go yourself, entry is around $25 if you show your QUT ID card.
You will hear locals talking about Mount Coot-tha all the time! That’s because it’s the closest place to hike and take in nature, while also getting beautiful views of the city. Mount Coot-tha is the local go-to for Sunday morning hikes followed by brunch or ice cream at the summit café.
The trails range from easy to advanced so check the map and alerts before you depart to make sure the track is right for you.
Tip: If you’re having trouble motivating your roommate to wake up early enough to see the sunrise, join the QUT Trekkers club!
Story Bridge Climb
The Story Bridge Adventure Climb is a very unique way to see Brissy. You’ll see the city from a new level and enjoy 360-degree views of the city, river, and mountains. Why not book a sunrise or sunset tour to really make the most of the experience?
The climb will take you about 2 hours and starts at Kangaroo Point, just across the river from QUT Gardens Point.
The climb will usually cost you somewhere between $130 – $160, depending on the time of day and type of ticket you choose. However, I’d recommend you search for great deals on sites like Groupon or Red Balloon because you may find it cheaper.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
The Kangaroo Point Cliffs will be a favourite for the outdoorsy people out there. Not only are they a hub for local picnics, exercise, and sunset-viewing, they’re also the best place in Brisbane for outdoor rock climbing and abseiling.
Tip: For those of you into rock climbing, check out the QUT Cliffhangers! Membership is $60 for a semester but there are hundreds of events, both during the week and on weekends.
You can also kayak down the Brisbane River with Riverlife from Kangaroo Point for around $60.
Head NORTH for these nature and adrenaline adventures
Kondalilla National Park
Kondalilla National Park is perfect for bushwalkers, photographers, and those who just want a bit of fresh air! It’s so popular that International Student Services (ISS) organises a day trip each semester.
Enjoy the unrivalled views of the Glasshouse Mountains, stop at the delightful Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Montville for morning tea, and swim the beautiful Kondalilla Falls for a picnic lunch and a swim in the rock pools.
Another great waterfall and swimming spot nearby is Gardner’s Falls. Lauren and a group of her exchange friends took a day trip and found it’s the perfect place to set up camp for the day.
Tip: Make it a weekend away and visit Australia Zoo on your way home.
Feed the dolphins and kayak around the Tangalooma wrecks
See below the surface with glass-bottomed kayaks at Moreton Island, paddle past the historic (and just really cool) Tangalooma Wrecks by day and feed the dolphins by night.
Moreton Island is a must-do for any study abroad or exchange student because it showcases everything Australia has to offer: stunning beaches, snorkelling through schools of fish, untouched natural beauty, and so many fun activities. Don’t forget to give sandboarding a go!
A weekend away on Moreton Island can add up if you don’t plan it well. That’s why I’d recommend you read Marta’s blog on How to cheaply do Moreton Island for great advice.
Head SOUTH for these nature and adrenaline adventures
Walk the trails at Springbrook National Park
If you’re looking for waterfalls then go no further than Springbrook National Park. Springbrook has such magnificent natural beauty that it is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage-listed area.
Springbrook is about two hours south of Brisbane by car. There are plenty of short and long trails, waterfalls and glow worm caves so there’s something for everyone.
Tip: The best time of year to see the glow worms is during the warmer, wetter months (beginning of Semester 1 or the end of Semester 2).
The best part is that entrance to the park is free! If you want a weekend away, you can camp at The Settlement for about $7 per night. You may need to take a dip in the waterfalls because there are limited facilities at the campsite.
Dive into nature at Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park is right by Springbrook and is also full of beautiful scenery and peaceful walks. If you’re up for a challenging hike, try the Border Track – a 21.4km walk one way! (Don’t worry – you can be picked up at the other end.)
There is also the chance to hot air balloon, walk 30m above the ground among the treetops, explore the surrounding waterfalls, and check out the glow worms lighting up the caves at night.
There are lots of cheaper camping options throughout the park. For about $7 each a night, you can set up camp and enjoy the stars like Phoebe did. Be warned, however, that some of these are very basic camp spots! If you’d prefer something a bit more glam, you can check in at one of the other accommodation providers in the park.
By the time you’re done with Lamington National Park, your Instagram feed will be full of awesome shots like this:
SkyPoint Climb at the Gold Coast
Do you want the thrill of Australia’s highest external building climb? You’ll have uninterrupted 360-degree views of the Gold Coast 270 metres above sea level! Don’t worry, you’ll start from floor 77 so you won’t need to walk up the entire building. Once you’re up there, you can carefully walk along the edge of the stairs for an extra adrenaline rush!
The experience takes about 90 minutes and you can end it with a well-deserved treat at the Observation Deck Bistro and Bar.
Climbing prices start from around $80 depending on the time of day you want to climb. You can also opt to only visit the Observation Deck (from the inside) for around $30.
Head EAST for these nature and adrenaline adventures
North Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke Island, known affectionately as “Straddie”, is a Brisbane local’s go-to getaway because, while it feels like you’ve entered another world, it’s so close to Brisbane. Explore the blue beaches and lakes, go kayaking or surfing, or keep your eyes open for koalas and kangaroos. There’s so much to do in just one weekend at Straddie.
Make sure you get a bunch of friends to experience this with you! You can’t go past some fresh Straddie seafood or a barbecue by the beach.
While it is possible to experience Straddie via the trains and ferries to Cleveland, you may find a car easier if you’re going for a weekend. You get across to the island via the ferry that departs from Cleveland.
The ferry to Straddie is around $15 if you show your QUT ID and travel on-foot. If you’re taking a car across to the island, it’s a bit more – around $40 return. Since there are limited options on Straddie, and food can be more expensive than in Brisbane, you should plan ahead and pack options.
Read Ha’s blog for tips on doing Straddie on a budget.
Head WEST for these nature and adrenaline adventures
Hot Air Ballooning
Get an early start on the day hot air ballooning near Brisbane. You’ll start in Ipswich, about 30 minutes from Brisbane, and fly over the beautiful scenery. You should be able to see the Brisbane skyline and Mount Coot-tha while you’re flying!
You can get to Ipswich on the train, by car, or by booking a shuttle transfer when you book. You’ll even get breakfast when you land.
Hot air ballooning is quite expensive and starts at around $350. If you’re unsure, read about Linette’s experience in the air before you book.
See the sunflowers at Allora
Allora is about 2.5 hours from Brisbane and the sunflowers are pretty spectacular! You’ll escape the city and get into the country for some fresh air and freshly baked goods! Why not take a road trip to see a few more sights on the way?
The sunflowers usually bloom between January – March but it really depends on the weather. It may be worth getting in touch with the local tourism offices before you depart.
You should also detour via the Kooroomba Vineyards and Lavender Farm and Queen Mary Falls on your way.
For other nature and thrill-seeking inspiration a little further from Brisbane, check out the must-do Queensland adventure experiences.
This article was written by Brisbane local and QUT staff member, Emma, in August 2020. Any prices are a guide only so please be sure to double-check them before the events and activities. Please also check the activity is operating normally during COVID-19 restrictions.
Head back to the QUT Study Abroad and Exchange web page