Brisbane whirs to life with bike riders and downward dogs at sunrise, enjoys third-wave coffee, a hefty dose of culture, shopping and al fresco eats throughout the day, and winds down somewhere with a view of the Brisbane River.
A barbecue atop the Kangaroo Point Cliffs at sunset is an iconic Brisbane experience.
Make your way to Fish Lane in South Brisbane.
It’s where you’ll find Gauge, heralded by The New York Times as one of the most creative members of Australia’s new culinary scene.
Nearby are pan-Asian eats at Chu the Phat, tucked-away whisky bar Maker, and the Aussie phenomenon that is Gelato Messina. On the other side of the river, book or arrive early to score a seat at one of Fortitude Valley’s most coveted tables: Honto, LONgTIME or Gerard’s Bistro, which all sit within a few blocks.
With a rooftop pool, NEXT Hotel is luxe for less in the city center.
Miami meets Queensland at The Calile.
Ovolo Inchcolm does a sophisticated take on quirky.
Start Sundays like the locals do and walk along South Bank, dipping your toes into the world’s only man-made city-center beach and stopping for a picnic on the lawn at River Quay; Popolo does great Italian picnics to order, and free live music provides the soundtrack.
Taking a helicopter into the Dumaresq Valley to go fishing is next-level luxury. Go Fish Australia whisks guests from Brisbane to a secret spot. Fish for yellowbelly and Murray cod, then cook your catch – or tuck into a fresh seafood feast – on the porch of Dumaresq Homestead.
Queensland is one of only two states in Australia where you can hug a koala; catch a ferry to Lone Pine Sanctuary for your cuddly close-up and then head to the Gallery of Modern Art for lunch at GOMA Restaurant where chef Doug Innes-Will champions standout local seafood, paired with something off the Queensland-led wine list.
Within 30 minutes’ drive of the city you can be on a fast ferry to the third-largest sand island in the world, Moreton Island. Visit between June and October to score front-row seats to the humpback whale migration.
Moreton Island is an adventure lover’s paradise with sand boarding, fishing, and the skeletons of 15 ships, scuttled in 1963 just offshore, providing spectacular snorkeling and diving (hello, wobbegong sharks). Each evening, you can take part in sustainable hand-feeding of wild dolphins.
Tangalooma Island Resort offers everything from hotel rooms to luxe villas, or sleep in safari tents at Castaways.
The Gutter Bar is your quintessential toes-in-sand, fresh-oysters-off-the-trawler, glass-of-chilled-white-in-hand beach bar.
This beachside town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, just under two hours from Brisbane, Noosa is the perfect mix of sophisticated cool and old-school family vacation fun.
The day to day here revolves around the beach; learn to surf, paddle board or kayak on the aqua waters (try Go Ride a Wave), or take up position in one of the casual cafes and restaurants that fringe Main Beach.
The Noosa National Park is perfect for bushwalking – and koala spotting – or for a once-in-a-lifetime experience go swimming with humpback whales.
Pitch Luxury Camping’s tents come with queen beds, delicious picnic baskets and uninterrupted nature. Netanya Noosa has five-star facilities overlooking Main Beach.
Chef Peter Kuruvita’s Noosa Beach House does seafood with a Sri Lankan twist; Locale serves up wood-fire pizzas in an industrial chic space.
An hour from Brisbane, the Scenic Rim encompasses six national parks, stunning mountain peaks, and one of south-east Queensland’s largest food producing regions cloaked in ancient rainforest. Keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos.
Start the day in a hot air balloon to see why it’s called the Scenic Rim. Culinary crusaders can join a number of food and wine tours, while active types can go horse riding in the foothills of the Lost World Valley, cross the nine suspension bridges that make up O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk, or hike high-end with the two-day guided scenic rim trail.
The O’Reilly family were pioneers of this region and a stay at their retreat puts you in prime position to explore Lamington National Park (and spot glow worms at night).
Nightfall is an exclusive glamping experience for just six guests on the banks of picture-perfect Christmas Creek, or you can muck in on a farm stay at Tommerup’s Dairy Farm.
Head to Homage at Spicers Hidden Vale for hyper-local paddock-to-plate fare and unexpected surprises, like an amazing emu egg marshmallow dessert, or lunch overlooking the lavender fields at Kooroomba Vineyard.