Brisbane is a beautiful city well worth exploring. With plenty of long winding roads just made for cruising, many areas around Brisbane showcase the true beauty of Queensland. And these winding roads and picture-perfect scenes are just a short drive away from the CBD.
There is no excuse for not trying at least one of the Brisbane scenic drives on our list. It’s never been a better time to fill up the tank and hit the road. So drive carefully and take the time to enjoy the scenery as you escape. The time has never been better to get out on the open road for a weekend drive. Along the way you’ll find a number of lookouts and rest stops that provide the perfect opportunity to relax, have a feed, and get some great photos, making driving the routes a genuine family-friendly activity.
Some of the best Brisbane scenic drives are outlined below to give you a taste of what to expect:
Brisbane scenic drives
Mount Coot-tha Scenic Drive
Why not start the list of Brisbane Scenic Drives with the most iconic landmark in Brisbane – Mt Coot-tha.
Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, the picturesque route through Mount Coot-tha Forest, begins at Brisbane Botanic Gardens. If you have the time, stop at the gardens for a while to enjoy a coffee or picnic. Why not, it is free.
Sir Samuel Griffith Drive twists its way up the mountain to the lookout. The views get more impressive with each twist and turn you take slowly revealing the cityscape below you.
Take your time and enjoy the scenery, and if you have a sweet tooth, some delicious ice cream from the Kuta Cafe.
Tamborine Mountain Drive
Distance from BNE: 82 kilometers
Take a ride to Tamborine Mountain – Number two on our list of Brisbane Scenic Drives. Follow the winding road through the 3rd oldest national park in the world to a small mountain top hamlet where you can explore the local art or grab a table on the terrace of St Bernard’s Hotel peer out over Guanaba Gorge.
When you arrive at Tamborine Park, there is a parking lot in front of Curtis Falls Cafe with around a dozen free spaces where you can park your car safely. From here, the trailhead is clearly signposted and it’s a short 10-15 minute walk through the rainforest to reach Curtis Falls.
This is a great day trip from Brisbane and it’s only 50 minutes from the city. Make sure you have a full tank of fuel and a picnic lunch and you are set.
There are a couple of great lookouts along the way and plenty of spots to stop for a break. Camp Mountain, Jollys, and Westridge lookouts were my favorites!
Along the way, you will find every 5-10 minutes picnic areas with bathrooms and tables. Mount Nebo Road offers both fantastic mountain views and a fantastic driving experience for those with more sporting pretensions.
If you didn’t think to pack yourself lunch, you can swing by the Cafe In The Mountains at Mount Nebo for a takeaway burrito bowl or a pile of fish and chips.
Maleny Tourist Drive
Its proximity to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast beaches combined with the abundance of things to do in Maleny make it an ideal day trip. The town attracts sculptors, painters, craftspeople and potters who provide the local galleries with their works. Maleny is popular with holiday makers and daytrippers. The reasons are simple. The air is cool and fresh. The views are panoramic.
A 90-minute drive from Brisbane, around 95km, will have you in the hinterland village of Maleny. The community offers friendly cafes, some artisan shopping and great local produce. There’s a small weekend market, stunning gardens, rainforest walks, hiking trails and swimming holes. It’s a town with a whole lot to offer visitors and those lucky enough to live nearby.
Head north on the Bruce Highway and turn off at Landsborough to take the Blackall Range (Tourist Drive 23) towards Maleny. On the way up, make sure to stop at Skipper Musk Teahouse Lookout to stretch your legs and have a cuppa while taking in the view. Clouds Vineyard is another great place to stop if you are into sampling a few wines (not too many though… You are driving after all).
Other attractions worth seeing are Gardener Falls, Maleny Botanic Gardens and Birdworld, McCarthy’s Lookout, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and the Obi Boardwalk to mention but a few.
This is a comfortable daytrip and well deserves a spot on our list of Brisbane Scenic Drives.
Brisbane scenic drives
The Northbrook Parkway
This area is situated west of Brisbane and links the eastern shore of Lake Wivenhoe with D’Aguilar National Park. The long, straight smooth roads from Mount Glorious to Wivenhoe are fantastic for cruising. Many people come for the bushwalking or to explore Northbrook Gorges which is well worth doing if you have the time and energy.
The Mt Nebo and Glorious pairing is a well-worn route for local enthusiasts. Combining brilliant vistas and well-groomed bends, there is something for everyone. While most will turn around at the bottom for a return trip to Brisbane, it is well worth continuing on to Northbrook Parkway and revelling in its fast, open, and flowing sweepers.
If you have time, head to the Wivenhoe Dam Spillway and take some amazing pics from the lookout.
The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive
The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive is a scenic route between Ipswich and Toowoomba via the Lockyer Valley. A must-do trip for all those colonials at heart and a welcome addition to our list of Brisbane Scenic Drives.
The drive celebrates the first mail route awarded to Cobb & Co in Queensland when, on January 1, 1866 the mail service commenced from Brisbane to Ipswich. Passengers and mail heading further west were taken from Ipswich to Grandchester (Queensland’s oldest railway station) by train and then by another Cobb & Co coach for the rest of the journey to Toowoomba.
The drive follows the railway line and the original Cobb & Co route between Ipswich and Gatton. Just as Cobb & Co’s passengers needed occasional stops during their journey, so do modern-day travellers. So, along the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive, three convenient locations in Rosewood, Forest Hill and Gatton have been designated Staging Posts.
All Staging Posts are situated where services, such as public toilets and the availability of food and drinks, are accessible seven days a week.
From the starting point at The Workshops Rail Museum, travel through Ipswich and then west via Leichhardt and Wulkuraka.
Along the way, stop at the Ipswich Art Gallery – housed in the first Town Hall built in Queensland. At Walloon, the first stop on Queensland’s first railway line, stop and visit Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park. Here you’ll find the striking memorial to the lost “Babies of Walloon” and the text of Henry Lawson’s haunting poem carved in railway sleepers.
Continue to Rosewood and visit the Staging Post located in the Town Square in John Street. You’ll also find a full size replica Cobb & Co here.
Located just 16 kilometres beyond Rosewood is Grandchester. Formerly called ‘Bigge’s Camp’ after pastoralist and parliamentarian, Francis Edward Bigge, it was renamed Grandchester in 1865 and is the terminus for Queensland’s first railway line.
After the railway line reached Gatton in 1866, the town became the changeover point for the Cobb & Co Coaches to the Darling Downs.
You will find a Staging Post at the entrance to the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre.
A visit to the picturesque Spring Bluff Railway Centre is highly recommended and the journey up the Toowoomba range via the township of Murphys Creek is delightful.
Arriving in Toowoomba at the end of the drive, a visit to the Cobb & Co Museum is a must. At the museum is the National Carriage Collection – Australia’s finest collection of horse drawn vehicles that includes Cobb & Co coaches, delivery carts and more.
Brisbane scenic drives
The Lost World
Beaudesert to Christmas Creek
Distance: 144 km Time: 1 hr 40 min
The next of our Brisbane Scenic Drives is “The Lost World” starting in Beaudesert, at the very top of the Scenic Rim. Start your trip refreshed with a meal at one of the local cafes, pubs, or clubs. Once you are ready, jump in your car and head south to Tamrookum.
Head out and see the beautiful horses of Tamrookum, take a couple of lessons and you will be galloping and prancing like a professional and ready to move onto your next stop.
With the amazing food and olive gardens to walk in for hours, Rathdowney is anything but ordinary. Try the famous dukkah (and save some for later, it will come in handy at your next picnic in the Scenic Rim). When you have tasted Rathdowney, you will head east towards Christmas Creek. Christmas Creek and The Lost World Valley are enchanting additions to your road trip.
As far as names go, The Lost World is very accurate. The road narrows as you head into this magical lost world. Be sure to go to the Darlington Community Markets when they are on, and immerse yourself in the history of pioneers as you discover your own adventure in the various hikes in the valley. Swim, fish and picnic beside Christmas Creek, and relax for the night before moving onto Kerry in a beautiful Bed and breakfast.
Well, that’s all for now. So warm up the engine, plot your course ( or google it), then get out there and do it. Australia is an amazing place to live, get out and see it! If you know of other Brisbane scenic drives that you feel should be included here, please let us know. Leave a comment below.