Driving ceases to be a chore when the open road stretches out in front of you, when roads slalom up and down hills, up mountains and past lookouts, and when breaks in the treeline offer spectacular views of the countryside. It becomes fun, freeing and reflective. Thankfully, there are quite a few beautiful long and winding scenic drives near Brisbane to lose yourself on.
A drive on these roads is the perfect day trip in and of itself, but you can make the most of the country road getaway with stops at many of the charming towns peppered throughout our great state, or just pick a drive and find a place to go that’s nearby.
1. Mount Nebo Road
Mount Nebo Road is one of the best driving roads near Brisbane.
It throws up some gorgeous scenery, breathtaking lookouts and a whole host of spectacular activities you can do nearby. Leave The Gap and Waterworks Road in your rearview mirror and Mount Nebo Road slices through D’Aguilar National Park, which has a couple of gorgeous swimming holes for summer fun. Trees line each side and the road winds its way up to Mount Nebo before it continues onto Mount Glorious.
Continue onto Mount Glorious Road and then onto Northbrook Parkway to extend your drive all the way up to the Mount Glorious T Junction (intersects with Wivenhoe-Somerset Road). Turn around and do it all again (and follow Mount Glorious Road back through Samford Valley) or drive back to Brisbane via Ipswich.
Lookouts on Mount Nebo Road and beyond include Jollys Lookout, Mt Nebo Lookout, Westbridge Outlook, Western Window and Wivenhoe Outlook while a few notable detours or stops include Cafe in the Mountains, Elm Haus Cafe, the Pheonix Sculpture Garden, Northbrook Gorges and Cedar Creek Swimming Holes. There are a number of parks close to the road where you’re also able to pull up, have a picnic and continue on your drive.
2. Sir Samuel Griffith Drive
The shortest scenic drive on the list is the Sir Samuel Griffith Drive but because of its close proximity to the city and its circling of Mount Coot-Tha, it makes for a sensational refresh any day of the week. Go around once, twice and all the times you like and you’ll never get tired of the views from Mount Coot-Tha lookout. By day the city is lit up by the sun and by night the city lights up the dark.
The area is home to a number of short(er) walking trails near Brisbane as well, making Sir Samuel Griffith Drive a perfect car+walk combo that won’t take up your entire day. Stop off at Simpson Falls for a well-worth-it city break.
3. Mount Mee Road
Winding through lush greenery and past scenic lookouts from Dayboro to Delaney’s Creek make Mount Mee Road a choice selection for those wanting to feel the freedom of the open road. Bonus points for the Mount Mee lookout which is actually called the Dahmongah Lookout Park.
If 30-odd kilometres aren’t enough to satisfy your best driving road needs, then it can be extended by a fair bit. We recommend starting from Samford Village and heading past Dayboro where you’ll turn onto Mount Mee Road. Then, follow the drive onto the D’Alguilar Highway past Woodford and cut left at Esk Kilkoy Road to pass Lake Wivenhoe which you’ll be able to see on your left-hand side.
Take in the views at Shiels Lookout or at Somerset Dam Lookout before taking another left at Somerset-Wivenhoe Road, which you should recognise as part of the tail end of driving road number one on this list (Mount Nebo Road isn’t far from here.)
4. Lamington National Park Road
Home to ancient Gondwana Rainforests and the rare Albert’s lyrebird, Lamington National Park is a jewel in Queensland’s crown. And the road that takes you up and through received a multi-million dollar upgrade just a few years ago.
You’ll pass wineries on your way up, an Alpaca Farm too, and phenomenal rainforest views on either side. It’s not a quick drive as hairpins and narrow sections bring down the km/h but there’s no reason why you’d want to be speeding through this part of paradise.
There are a couple of places you’d might like to pull over at, like the Big Lamington and Kamarun Lookout. You could also stretch your legs with one of the many amazing walking trails. And, if you’ve planned ahead, at the very end of Lamington National Park Road you will find O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat where you can relax, disconnect and indulge yourself.
5. Redbank to Woodenbong
This phenomenal drive near Brisbane is an all-day affair if you plan to go out and back. It’s a favourite for Brisbane car enthusiasts with driving speed limits at 100 nearly the entire route as well as there being very little traffic to get in your way.
South along Ipswich-Boonah Road and you’ll have fresh country air in your hair with the windows open. Boonah makes a great stop at just over an hour into the drive for a bite to eat before getting back into the car and heading south again.
The drive along Boonah-Rathdowney Road is much improved in the past few years and it continues smoothly onto the Mount Lindesay Highway. Soon enough you’ll begin to see why you’re driving so far (and yet, not that far) from the city because the road winds its way up the mountain before crossing over into NSW and down the other side.
6. Yamanto to Amberley
The trip from Yamanto to Amberley is fairly dull so if you’ve got the time, why not make a day of it?
Head south down Ipswich-Boonah Road and get the car warmed up. Pass Boonah and then turn off Boonah-Rathdowney Road onto Carneys Creek Road and the drive gets a whole lot better, especially when open plains give way to a tree-lined road and you’re surrounded by bush.
Eventually, the road hugs the New South Wales border and after a couple of hairpins goes past the Moss Gardens Lookout and Carrs Lookout. Further along, Queen Mary Falls is a must-visit attraction and we hear some people claim that the burger and chips from the kiosk are some of the best they’ve eaten. Keep going and you’ll also come across Browns Falls before passing through Kilarney (if country town hotels and pubs are to your liking, Kilarney has you covered) and shooting on through to Warwick.
Warwick itself is a beautiful country town worth a visit, especially in July if you’re a fan of jazz and knitting or in late October if rodeos are more your thing. Check it out here at number six on our Charming Country Town list.