Whether you're after family time, a romantic escape, a gourmet getaway or even something completely off grid – here are some of the best ways to have a quick long weekend in Queensland.
For couples: Lamington National Park
It has all the makings of a five-star city hotel – organic linen, three-course dining, rain showerheads, aperitivo hour – but this glamping stay in the Gold Coast Hinterland is an instant antidote to the city. Found at the edge of Lamington National Park, within two hours of both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Nightfall (pictured top) has just four luxuriously appointed safari tents (king-sized beds, freestanding baths), all spaced far enough apart that you’d be forgiven for thinking that you have the bird calls, tree canopy and tranquillity to yourself... and the resident wallabies.
For family: Currumbin
You want a beachside holiday like the ones you had as a kid – but with better options for dinner than just the local fish and chippery. Currumbin on the Gold Coast has been a family holiday haven for decades but a recent makeover of Burleigh Heads, 15 minutes drive north, means it now also delivers on the dining front. Stay directly across the road from the waves at The Pacific Pearl, where the neutral Hamptons-esque aesthetic ensures the expansive blue views are the main event. There are four bedrooms across its three floors; bags the one with its own sea-view balcony. Then you can quickly settle into the eat-sand-surf-eat-sleep-repeat rhythm of a classic Australian holiday or look for adventures further afield, such as kayaking nearby Tallebudgera Creek and discovering the photogenic rock formation and waterfall known as Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park – it’s a local favourite. Find wonders of the culinary variety at pan-Asian eatery Rick Shores and Vietnamese crowd- pleaser Jimmy Wah’s (pictured) in Burleigh, or head to Palm Beach’s popular Balboa Italian Restaurant.
For going off-grid: Lizard Island
There are 40 villas and suites at Lizard Island Resort, which lies an hour by plane from Cairns. If that doesn’t sound exclusive enough, try this: there are 24 beaches. And Lizard is just the right size – at a whisker under 10 square kilometres – that you could set out to play Goldilocks and try them all but then you might miss the opportunity to snorkel with turtles, paddle in a glass- bottomed kayak, try to spot humpback or minke whales or visit the spa for a hot stone massage. The weather is warm year-round so pack a summer wardrobe. Leave your phone charger – there’s no coverage – but the resort has limited wi-fi.
For nature: Cape Tribulation
Find your balance among the treetops of the world’s oldest rainforest. There are three elevated pavilions at Mist at Cape Tribulation, a solar-powered eco escape, where the Daintree National Park meets the Great Barrier Reef. Laze on your private deck as you tune into the chatter of wildlife, swing in a hammock for two, wander the forest or snorkel Undine Reef. Cassowaries, crocs and stingers call this region home so pay attention to the signposted warnings.
For a farm stay: Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Misty mornings, grazing cows, national park and state forest... if life came with a remote control, this would be the pause button. The Cottage at Condondale Station cattle farm sleeps six and comes with all the right details – clawfoot bath with mountain views, cosy leather couches, farm-fresh eggs for breakfast, fireplace to warm yourself by.
For the new cool: Noosa
Noosa and its surroundings serve up much more than just sand and surf these days. In fact, this region is a modern urbanite’s dream in a quintessentially coastal setting thanks to craft breweries, organic produce and cool coffee spots; base yourself at Tingirana Noosa and you’re well placed to tour it. Venture to Noosaville for lagers and buddha bowls, to Noosa Junction for inventive vegan dishes you’ll want to re-create at home and to the calm waters of the north-facing Main Beach because, well, you are in Noosa.
For coast: Oak Beach
Just 15 minutes south of Port Douglas, Oak Beach is more secluded than its popular neighbour but still has easy access to the town’s dining and entertainment scene (Cairns is a further 50 minutes away). Settle in at Thirty-One Degrees, a three-bedroom property that sleeps six, where palm trees frame the private pathway that leads you down to the Coral Sea.
For food: Scenic Rim
This region of south-east Queensland is becoming one of the state’s most talked-about food bowls but its expanse means discovering those treasures takes more than a weekend. Give yourself a head start at the luxury Spicers Peak Lodge, which sits on a 3200-hectare property against the backdrop of the Main Range National Park. Here, head chef Dean Alsford creates menus that celebrate the rich local terroir as well as the country’s unique regional flavours.