Three family-friendly road trip ideas in Queensland

07 September 2022

For many of us, our most treasured childhood memories are of family holidays. Whether to the sand or the red dirt, the family road trip was as Australian as Vegemite, a chance to create core memories that still stay with us years after. 

Here are three long weekend road trips in Queensland that your kids won’t ever forget.

Brisbane to Noosa Heads

To start the weekend, stop off at Eumundi Markets (open Saturdays, 7am to 2pm), a famously eclectic spot where you can buy everything from art to organic Vietnamese food. Afterwards drive to Noosa Heads, drop off the car, pack your beach bag, then wander around the headland to Noosa National Park and Tea Tree Bay Beach – the perfect spots to while away an hour or two. Post-surf and sand, head for pretty Noosaville and explore the Noosa River via kayak, SUP or jetski, or hire a tinnie for a few hours. You’re spoilt for choice for dinner on Hastings Street – check out Betty’s Burgers for relaxed kid-friendly fare (including amazing ice-cream). 

On Sunday, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland beckons. Most of what you want to see is in and around picturesque Maleny, a 70-minute drive inland. Start at Maleny Botanic Gardens, pretty in themselves, but also home to Bird World, where your kids can encounter some 700 feathery creatures, from local lorikeets to exotic macaws. When it’s time to refuel, try Monica’s Cafe on Maple Street for gourmet sandwiches and burgers. Last stop for the day is Gardners Falls – a swim in the rockpool at the base of the falls is the perfect way to end your weekend. 

Surfers Paradise to the Gold Coast Hinterland

Leave the beaches and theme parks behind and discover the green behind the gold – the luscious Gold Coast Hinterland. Head west from Surfers to Tamborine Mountain, and the Spice of Life Cafe & Deli, where the kids will love the Hash Stack. Don’t leave town without stocking up on scrumptious fudge at Granny Macs, then burn off some of those calories at the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, a five-minute drive away, where you can explore the rainforest and its canopy. An hour south are your digs for the night, Binna Burra Lodge. Once you’ve settled into your Safari Tent, tackle one of four suggested short walks through Lamington National Park, then grab a family-friendly BBQ Pack and end the night with a little stargazing. In the morning, head into Beechmont for a hearty brekky at The Headmasters Café, located in the old school house. Then it’s on to Canungra, and O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards, home of Mountview Alpaca Farm and its adorable residents. 

Cairns to the Daintree 

From Cairns, head 15 minutes north-west to Smithfield, and gaze over the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Then it’s onto postcard-pretty Kuranda and its Koala Gardens, home to not only Australia’s favourite marsupial but also quokkas, pademelons, wombats and wallabies. Thirty minutes down the road is Mareeba, and a chance for Mum and Dad to have their caffeine hit at Coffee Works. It’s also the perfect opportunity to stock up on chocolates for the 90-minute drive to Daintree Village, gateway to the Daintree wilderness. There’s accommodation of every ilk here, but for the budget-minded, Daintree Wild Bed & Breakfast, about 15 minutes out of town, is a good option. Laze by the pool in the late afternoon, then splurge a little with dinner at Daintree Ecolodge’s Julaymba Restaurant. 

Next day, the extraordinary Daintree awaits – take a Daintree River cruise and spot crocodiles; visit the Daintree Discovery Centre to wander the rainforest boardwalks and spy cassowaries; swim, snorkel and float on a River Drift Snorkelling tour; or hop on a guided zipline tour of the rainforest with Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours. There’s no better way to end a day here than an afternoon drive to Diwan and tasting the extraordinary flavours at the Daintree Ice Cream Co. On your final day, head east to the coast and start the morning to Mossman Gorge for a Dreamtime Walk with Indigenous guides. Take a detour off the highway to spend a few hours in dreamy Port Douglas — where you can treat Mum to a spa experience! — before following the coast road back to Cairns.

Help on the road when you need it

If you’re headed out on a road trip, consider Suncorp Roadside Assist. It’s available as an optional cover with Suncorp Comprehensive Car Insurance, and can help you out 24/7 with things like flat tyres, empty petrol tanks and lost keys. 

Learn about Roadside Assist

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