Seven unmissable outdoor adventures in and around Brisbane

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Rays of sunshine, thrills in the heart of the city, dreamy white sand islands and lush rainforests on its doorstep… Brisbane and its surroundings are a wonderland for outdoor adventurers.

There’s the iconic Brisbane River where you can command your own eco-boat or rappel down 230-million-year-old rock formations at sunset. Or, further afield, you’ll find the epic sand islands of Bribie, Moreton and North Stradbroke/Minjerribah, surrounded by crystal clear waters, covered by a national park and teeming with wildlife – from green sea turtles and dolphins to wallabies and koalas.

Then there is Lamington National Park which offers nature lovers and keen hikers magnificent waterfalls or the chance to relax in a spa overlooking the ancient rainforest. Read on for seven unmissable outdoor adventures in and around Brisbane for your next adventure.


Visit the river at the bay on Moreton Island. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.


Just east of Brisbane you will find many islands to explore. The easiest way to find them? Book a day trip with River to Bay. For snorkeling among tropical fish and green sea turtles at the scenic Tangalooma Wrecks, watching koalas among tall trees and wandering the haunted ruins of Queensland’s first penal colony, opt for the Moreton Island Bay Tour.

Alternatively, opt for incredible swimming beaches, dramatic scenery and boutique cafes in a historic village when visiting Stradbroke Island. Another tempting option is the Champagne and Oyster Tour, which involves sipping bubbles and tasting fresh ocean oysters while watching the sunset.



For an adrenaline rush, abseil with Riverlife. On the Day Rappel, you’ll do a 90-minute ascent and descent of the 20-metre high cliffs of Brisbane Kangaroo Point. These are heritage-listed volcanic rock formations 230 million years old that line the Brisbane River, a stone’s throw from the CBD. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city of Brisbane and its surrounding waterways. For an even more magical experience, book a Twilight Rappel Tour. And if you’re a nervous booster, don’t worry. Riverlife aims to help you overcome your fears.


Go by boat to Brisbane. Image by Lean Timms.


One of the newest additions to the adventure scene is Go Boat. Founded in Copenhagen in 2014, it was launched in Brisbane to make the most of the city’s gorgeous climate and winding river. For up to three dreamy hours, you’ll pilot a perfectly silent electric boat made from recycled PET bottles turned into fiberglass. Pack a cheese platter, a bottle of Champagne and up to seven companions, and see Brisbane from a whole new perspective on the water. Pets are welcome. By the way, no need for a boat license, as the Go Boat crew will show you what to do before beckoning you to go on an adventure.


Hot Air Balloon Brisbane. Image by Sam Lindsay/Queensland Tourism and Events.


Once you’ve seen Brisbane from the water, the next logical step is to see it from the air. That’s exactly what you can do with floating images. Their sunrise flight takes you where the air is clear for 60 glorious minutes. Prepare for incredible views over the Brisbane city skyline, with the backdrop of the Great Diving Range, the Scenic Rim and the Somerset countryside. Afterwards, you’ll be treated to a breakfast fit for royalty at a local restaurant. Chief Pilot Graeme has flown hot air balloons for three decades on three continents, so you can relax knowing you’re in good hands.



Another place on the must-see list for visitors to Brisbane is Bribie Island, the fourth largest sand island in the world. It’s itself an outdoor adventurer’s kingdom full of national parks, wild surfing beaches, idyllic swimming coves and Pumicestone Passage, a protected marine park home to dolphins, turtles and dugongs.

To enjoy it, take a tour with G’Day Adventure Tours. Their antics range from a three-hour 4×4 beach and bunker tour to a two-day, one-night camping adventure, which lets you kayak in the Norfolk Lagoon, swim in the lagoon mermaid, roast marshmallows around a campfire and meet wallabies.


O’Reilly Rainforest Retreat. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.


Another asset of Brisbane is its proximity to lush ancient rainforests. One way to immerse yourself is to visit O’Reilly’s, an eco-retreat overlooking World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park. Visitors have been escaping here for almost 100 years.

There are loads of activities to try, including an adventure hike to Thunder and Lightning Falls, indulgent treatments at the Lost World Day Spa, a glowworm experience, and electric bike tours. To fit them all in, you’ll want to spend the night, either camping with your own tent, or a bit more luxurious with a variety of studios and villas.


North Gorge Walk at North Stradbroke Island. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.


If beaches are your thing, then you’ll want to put North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah on your itinerary. It’s the second-largest sand island in the world, which means there are beaches for surfers, swimmers and sun-seekers of all kinds.

For stunning views (especially at sunset), head to Flinders Beach (Point Lookout). For a long seaside stroll, try a stretch of sand on the 33 km long main beach. For amazing surf (not for beginners), get epic swells off Frenchmans Beach or Cylinder Beach. For solitude, head to Toompany Beach and for a relaxed swim in the fresh, crystal clear waters, visit Amity Beach. And, since you can’t pack all of this paradise in a day, you should definitely stay a night (or three).


Ready to plan a trip to Brisbane and its surroundings? Find out more on the Visit Brisbane website.

About Ethel Partin

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