Student blog: Brisbane on the road - where to go and what to see
Nipuni Gunawardena is an international student from Sri Lanka. She is currently studying Master of Technology (Enterprise systems and Business Analytics) at Federation University in Brisbane.
Hi! I’m Nipuni, a Sri Lankan international student ambassador based in Brisbane, Queensland. It’s been almost a year since I moved here with my husband. People keep telling me the weather is more comfortable here compared to other states in Australia, which is certainly the case for me, as Brisbane has a tropical climate which is similar to Sri Lanka’s. Having lived in Sydney and Melbourne, my husband also feels more comfortable living with me here in Brisbane.
What are some of the beautiful places in or near Brisbane, you ask? In this article, I will talk about some of the places I’ve visited this year.
Mount Coot-tha Lookout – Brisbane
This is the first place I visited, soon after I arrived. This lookout is famous among international students. It’s famous because it provides a breath-taking view of Brisbane city and is easily accessible by public transportation. Bus 471 goes directly to Mount Coot-tha lookout from the city. If you plan to drive there, there’s a car park available. You can see the sunrise and sunset, and enjoy beautiful day time and night time views from the lookout, as it is open to the public 24/7.
There are plenty of things you can do while you're there. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful Mount Coot-tha botanical garden!
Noosa National Park - Sunshine Coast
This was my second travel destination in Brisbane. If you plan to go on a road trip to the beach, but also want to see some natural wonders, Noosa National Park on the Sunshine Coast area is the perfect place for you. It takes about two hours to drive there from Brisbane. If you plan to drive there like we did, you should leave early because the national park is a local hot spot so finding a parking spot on weekends or public holidays is challenging. There are also plenty of public transport options. The national park is huge. We saw some amazing natural wonders as we walked through the pedestrian footpath. The coastal walk is decorated with several beautiful beaches for surfers to enjoy.
There are entrances on both sides of the national park. We spent two days exploring different routes entering from both entrances. One full day is enough for the coastal walk, but if you want to take things slowly and relax more, you could stay there overnight or longer.
Springbrook National Park - Gold Coast
If you love to go on a hike in a place that’s filled with greenery, you should visit Springbrook National Park on the Gold Coast. Unlike Noosa National Park, you need to drive there from Brisbane. There are short and long tracks available inside the national park to choose from. Beautiful waterfalls are approachable from different tracks and entrances in the park.
On the day I went there with my husband, we only saw one waterfall. On another occasion, I visited there with my university colleagues and friends and covered most of the waterfalls and tracks. It helped to have a tour guide with us to point us to the correct walking tracks. If you plan to go on a hike through a long track, it is better to get advice from officers at the information centre, because if you followed the wrong track, there’s a chance you might get stuck in the forest for days!
If you are looking for some short hiking routes closer to Brisbane, there are plenty of options too. Scenic Rim is teeming with cooling waterfalls and rainforest walks just waiting for you to chase them down!
Beaches in Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is mostly famous for its long golden beaches. Enjoy the beach, have a barbeque, try some beach games and try a bit of surfing. You can also go to the top of the tallest building on the Gold Coast where you can catch the most stunning views of the city.
Other than the busy main beach area, there are many other beaches you could visit if you want to avoid the crowds. We went to Miami Beach, which is closer and very nice. Another place is Point Danger (Captain Cook Memorial) which is further south on the border line that divides Queensland and New South Wales. The views from the lookouts at both these places are simply stunning. There are decent-sized carparks in all these places, but it’s better be early to get a good spot near the beach. All these places are accessible by trains or buses, but try to plan ahead, as public transport takes longer.
Visiting Somerset lookout was my husband’s idea, but I’m glad we did it! There are so many lookouts in Queensland where you'll be able to capture some awesome photos. This one is no doubt one of them!
From Somerset Lookout, you’ll be able to see breath-taking scenery, bushland and a collection of lakes. The drive there is bit rough you should be careful driving and follow the signs. We parked our car and walked through a trail track to the lookout. Later, we found out there’s a vehicle road track leading to the lookout which could’ve made it easier, but if you enjoy a short bushwalk, you could do what we did. If you have more time, go check out Lake Somerset. You can do water skiing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, canoeing, or simply just taking a dip in the designated swimming spots and enjoy a picnic by the lake!
As international students and tourists, we love the beautiful flower fields in Queensland! Different flowers bloom in different months or seasons in Queensland so you can enjoy the beauty throughout the year. I missed the tulip flower field in Toowong last Spring, but luckily, I got to see the sunflower field this summer. We went to Allora, a town famous for sunflowers. Unfortunately, by the time we visited, the farmers had harvested the flowers. Then we drove into the town of Allora. On the side of a road we saw a sunflower field filled with blooming sunflowers. I recommend visiting the field in morning, because we arrived there in the afternoon and flowers were a bit droopy due to the sunlight and the heat. Keep up with the updates from social media so you don’t miss the blooming seasons!