Like many young Brits, I’ve been lucky enough to spend some significant time travelling Australia. Back at uni I spent a year living on the Gold Coast as an exchange student. Ben and I then returned in the Autumn of 2017 and road-tripped Cairns to the Gold Coast. To say that Queensland is a home from home for us would be an understatement! So back in December 2017 Ben’s family flew all the way out to see this special place for themselves…
With just two weeks and a lot of ground to cover we really had a jam packed itinerary. Special thanks to Molly and Josh – they really did all the leg work when it came to planning/organising everyone and everything! Here’s how we did it…
5 nights in Broadbeach, Gold Coast
– From here we were able to visit some of our favourite spots! Including: Burleigh, Byron Bay, Tallebudgera Creek and (in)famous Surfer’s Paradise.
Catch a flight and spend 1 night in Sydney, NSW
– Not Queensland I know. But how can you visit Australia without seeing it’s most famous landmarks?
7 nights in Noosa Heads
– Make the most of the drive and stop off at Australia Zoo along the way. If you have a little more time checkout all that Brisbane has to offer too.
1 night in Bundaberg
– To see one of the seven wonders of the natural world you don’t have to head too far north. The outer reef is accessible from Bundaberg, we visited Lady Musgrave Island.
One of my favourite things about travel is getting to share the experience with loved ones. The Gold Coast is such a special place for Ben and I, so getting to take Ben’s family to some of our old jaunts was a pleasure! I’d seriously urge those spending time here to try a new beach each day. There are so many beautiful places to see and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t try a fair few of them.
Broadbeach & Surfer’s Paradise are close enough to be able to visit both beaches on the same day. Both offer plenty of shops and restaurants nearby too. Tip: don’t forget your tourist shot under the Surfer’s Paradise arch.
Rainbow Bay is one of my all time favourite beaches. Head up to Point Danger to watch the waves rolling in from above and then wind down the path to the beach. From up at the lookout you can see all the way to Surfer’s Paradise on a clear day!
Burleigh Heads & Tallebudgera Creek are another pair that go hand in hand. The water in the creek is usually much warmer and calmer than Burleigh Beach but be careful of strong currents. Be sure to walk the Ocean View Track for uninterrupted views way out to sea.
Some other must see/dos in the area include: theme parks, grab a few drinks in Broadbeach, dinner at Koi, visit the Burleigh Brewery.
If you have time: head south, out of Queensland and down to Byron Bay, if you have time head to Nimbin the hippy village in the Byron Hinterland.
I used to always dream of living on the Gold Coast… until I visited Noosa Heads. After our 24hr stint in Sydney we drove 3 hours north to a lovely villa in Noosa Heads. From here you can visit Fraser Island just off the coast of Queensland – it’s a full day trip but well worth the early start.
Noosa Heads has a high street full of independent restaurants, clothing boutiques and charming cafes but for me, the main attraction is Noosa National Park. Get there early because parking is limited, if you’re walking to the park be warned it’s all uphill and you’ll want to save some energy for the trails within the park. From the trails you might be lucky enough to glimpse dolphin pods splashing in the waves!
The Great Barrier Reef
With limited time you might think the reef isn’t within your reach. Fear not, as far south as Bundaberg you can access the outer Great Barrier Reef. We spent the night in Bundaberg as it’s a 3 hour drive from Noosa Heads.
The Lady Musgrave Experience was easily as mesmerising as any of the tours available further north, I actually preferred this to tours we’ve taken in Cairns. Wildlife is abundant on the island, guides are informative and the reef is vibrant! We saw reef sharks, heaps of fish, turtles and black noddy birds aplenty.
How to see it all, my top tips for making the most of your two weeks:
If you can, rent a car. There are plenty of bus services that operate all over Queensland but bare in mind you will have to revolve your travels around the operator’s schedule. Car rental allows you the freedom to cover a lot of ground in your own time. Plus you get to stop off whenever you see a pretty view or attraction!
Prioritise, ask yourself what you really want to see. Don’t just revolve your plans around an itinerary you’ve seen online (including this one!!). We’re all different and have different taste, just because somewhere is a tourist attraction does not mean it’s something you want/need to see. If you don’t enjoy hiking, take the short walks at National Parks – there’s no shame in it and you’ll have time to try other activities that suit you better.
Consider all modes of transport. We flew to Sydney so that we could see the landmarks, if we opted to drive there’s no way we could get as far north as Bundaberg to see the reef. Likewise, Uluru is accessible via plane. If budget allows, be sure to consider flying in to places that might be once in a lifetime experience.
That’s how we saw Southern Queensland. I hope this helps those of you planing your own trips too! Queensland really is huge and there is a lot of ground to cover, if you can’t do it all in one trip you’ve just got a perfect excuse to come back 🙂
Abbie May Travel