Brisbane and Surrounds, Australia

We loved Brisbane! We headed there to visit some friends and found it to be a vibrant, interesting and beautiful city.  They make great use of the river running through the centre and we especially enjoyed wondering through the South Bank area.  There are tonnes of excellent restaurants and bars all over the city and it is a great place to base yourself while visiting the Sunshine Coast.

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The Glass House Mountains National Park is about an hour drive north of Brisbane.  These peaks are spectacular and there are lots of walking tracks and viewpoints scattered throughout the area.  There are a few challenging hikes to do, however, we chose a 40 degree plus day to visit them so preferred to gaze at the peaks from below.  The Glasshouse Mountains Lookout Café was a great place to stop at for a cool drink, a nibble and to enjoy the scenery.

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Just North of the spectacular Glass House Mountains is the world famous Australia Zoo.  A trip to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast would not be complete without a visit to Steve Irwin’s home.  Australia Zoo is incredibly extensive and we spent most of a day wondering around, learning about Australian wildlife, devouring frozen cokes and generally having a great time.

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A drive up the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane is definitely a must-do while in the area. We headed up to Mooloolaba which is about an hour north of Brisbane.  It is a picturesque, white sand beach and is a beautiful place to hang out.  It gets really busy in the weekends (for good reason) so if you’re on holiday I recommend visiting on a week day.

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Dolphin at a beach near Mooloolaba

About a half hour north of Mooloolaba, is Mount Coolum National Park.  We headed up there to climb Mount Coolum for a pretty great view of the coastline.  The hike itself isn’t too difficult and takes about an hour return (actually probably less).  When we went it was incredibly hot so we found it challenging enough!

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We had some family living on the Gold Coast so we made the hour long trip south to visit. This coastline is incredible beautiful and there are many beaches to stop at.  We made the mistake of choosing the famous Surfer’s Paradise which is incredibly built up and not really our cup of tea.  For a quick stop, rather visit Burleigh or Currumbin.  The Gold Coast does have theme parks such as Dream World and Movie World and when I was younger I visited them and they were brilliant!

Our time in Brisbane was fabulous and I highly recommend it as a holiday destination. Travelling in Australia is pretty expensive so budget accordingly.  We were lucky enough to stay with friends and borrow their car which helped cut costs significantly.  Without this you are looking at spending approximately US$145 (NZ$200) per day.

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