If you’re itching to hit the road, Queensland is home to some of the best road trip destinations in Australia. Whether it be hiking through towering gorges in the Central Queensland Highlands, chasing waterfalls in the far north, or finding hidden beaches along the eastern coastline, there is something for every traveller in the sunshine state.
But picking a spot to road trip to can sometimes be the hardest part, especially when you’re spoilt for choice. So we’ve compiled a list of the best road trip destinations in Queensland, some analysed by Mitsubishi Motors through TripAdvisor for being places of interest with fewer crowds, and some our personal favourites.
Pack the car and hit the road – it’s time for an adventure.
1. Scenic Rim
Back in 2021, the Scenic Rim was ranked in the top 10 must-visit regions in the world, and with good reason: there’s so much to do here. Waterfalls, hiking trails, distilleries, wineries – you name it.
Best of all, the Scenic Rim is just over an hour’s drive from Brisbane, so you can even hit it on a day trip. But we recommend staying a few days at least. Camping on Lake Moogerah is magical, as is hiking to the top of Mount Greville, as well as visiting the nearby Scenic Rim brewery.
For more info, click here.
2. Central Queensland Highlands
The Central Queensland Highlands is one of the many hidden gems that Queensland has to offer. And an epic inland road trip destination at that. It’s about a nine-hour drive west of Brisbane, passing through Toowoomba and Dalby until you hit Roma, where you’ll start tracking north to the highlands.
Carnarvon Gorge is a massive highlight of the region, and the national park is home to a slew of scenic trails and, of course, a swimming hole to cool off in. We recommend staying at Carnarvon Gorge for a few days before heading north to Emerald, where you can go fossicking for sapphires.
Hot tip: coming back via Blackdown Tablelands and the coastline will give you the chance to visit the Insta-famous Gudda Gumoo rock pools.Click here for more information.
3. Behana Gorge Waterfall
A road trip to Far North Queensland, although a stunning destination and equally beautiful journey to get there, can come with the grim reality of overcrowded spots. Especially since the inland waterfalls from Cairns are one of the main highlights, aside from the Great Barrier Reef.
Yet, there are still some spots which are less crowded at times, one of them being the Behana Gorge Waterfall. This magical spot is a great place to swim and cool down from the humidity.
If you want to fully explore the region, head to the islands off the coast as well as north to the Daintree region, where you visit hidden gems such as Mossman Gorge and Cow Bay.
Visit the Tropical North Queensland website for more info.
4. Southern Gold Coast
For beach lovers, the Gold Coast provides a haven of salty fun. But sometimes, it’s a wise choice to beat the Surfer’s Paradise crowds and head down to Southern Gold Coast for some more peace and quiet. Although it gets busy some days, Tallebudgera Creek is perfect for a swim on high tide, where the water turns into a crystal-clear blue lagoon.
Then there’s Kirra Beach not far away down at Coolangatta as well as plenty of restaurants and bars to check out in Burleigh Heads.
If you prefer a freshwater swim, be sure to check out Currumbin Rock Pools, just inland from the coast. And if you want to hit the trails, the Gold Coast hinterland is just a stone’s throw away.
For more info about the Southern Gold Coast, head here.
5. Rainbow Beach
About an hour and a half north of Noosa Heads, you’ll find an incredible beach worth a road trip to. Rainbow Beach is the gateway to K’Gari (Fraser Island), but if you don’t have a four-wheel drive, you might want to stay on the mainland and explore the sweeping coastline, which is just as beautiful.
Aside from the ocean, there’s plenty to do around Rainbow Beach, including a trip up to the famous Cistern Chapel, which has been dubbed as Australia’s most beautiful public toilet.
There’s also the Noosa Everglades further down south, which has a gorgeous eco camp you can stay at.
For more info, click here.
6. Hydeaway Bay
Tucked away in the Bowen area, Hydeaway Bay is a hidden gem for any road tripper set for the Whitsundays. It’s just fifty kilometres from Airlie Beach, making it a perfect spot to cool down at in the region without hopping on a boat to the islands.
This serene coastal nook is set on a fringing coral reef and is home to dugongs, dolphins, and turtles, so keep your eyes peeled for the marine life.
From Airlie Beach, you can jump on a boat and visit the many islands of the Whitsundays.
For more inspiration from the region, click here.
7. Granite Belt region
Wine lovers to the front, mainly because the Granite Belt region is known and loved for its many vineyards that it’s home to. You’ll be spoilt for choice as you hop from winery to winery tasting the local drops. You never know, you might even find your new favourite wine among the 40-plus cellar doors in the area.
Most of the Granite Belt wineries can be found in and around Stanthorpe, which is around a three hour road trip south-west of Brisbane. It might be a little too far to complete with ease in a day, but when you can stay inside a giant wine barrel in the area, you’ll want to make the most of your time here.
Hikers will love a visit to Girraween National Park, with its massive granite boulders and exceptional views.
For more information on the Granite Belt, head here.
If you’re after that big country town feel, look no further than Toowoomba, just two hours west of Brisbane. Perched on a mountain overlooking the picturesque Darling Downs, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy the slow life.
Whether it be enjoying the views at Picnic Point, admiring street art, exploring the nearby national parks, or saving the trip for spring when their massive flower festival is held, Toowoomba might have you feeling like you’ve found your home away from home.
For more information, click here.
9. Seventeen Seventy
Hidden in the Gladstone region, Seventeen Seventy is one road trip destination for the beach lovers, and quiet enough to have some peaceful times. This small town is great for swimming, boating, fishing, and bushwalks, so you won’t run out of things to do.
Nearby is the small town of Agnes Water, which is also worth the visit. And on the way there or on return, you can also can a detour and stop off at Bundaberg, which is famous for its classic Australian rum. A visit to the popular distillery is a must-do if you’re a fan of Bundy.
For the ultimate multi-day road trip from Brisbane, we recommend combining this road trip with the Central Queensland Highlands. Here, you’ll get the best of both worlds: the outback and the ocean.
Check out more things you can do at Seventeen Seventy here.
10. K’Gari (Fraser Island)
A road trip to and on the world heritage listed, K’gari, is a bucket list tick for four-wheel drive owners. Sand driving, camping, beaches – you can’t go wrong.
Being the biggest sand island in the world, you’ll bet that you’ll be spoilt for choice with spots to pull up for a swim. There are also dune lakes scattered around the island, including the crystal-clear waters of Lake McKenzie.
Keep your eyes peeled for the dingoes, too, which call K’Gari home.
For more info on the island, click here.