South East Queensland (SEQ), the most populous region taking up most of the southeast in Queensland, includes the city of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane's north, and the Gold Coast to its south.
|Greater Brisbane |
With over 2 million inhabitants, half of all Queenslanders call the Greater Brisbane region home. Home of the bustling capital of Brisbane and home to large green spaces contained within urban city streets.
|Gold Coast |
The largest "holiday city" and the sixth largest city in Australia, the Gold Coast is a popular beachside destination with plenty of theme parks, water parks, beaches, and waterways. Interestingly, the Gold Coast has more canals than Venice.
|Sunshine Coast |
Queensland's third largest settlement home to kilometres of surfing beaches and home to the region's iconic Glass House Mountains. It is the second largest "holiday city" in Queensland, after the Gold Coast and a budget alternative to GC, popular with families.
The northernmost point of the south-east, the Gympie region is an agricultural centre known for all the Australian subtropical fruits that you can possibly think of.
A more expensive and northerly location at the beach, and the sole one thing that many do in Noosa is visit its beaches.
|Scenic Rim |
A very scenic region, nestled between the Gold Coast Hinterland and the Darling Downs offering landscapes that are a mix of the two. With several world-heritage national parks and scenic rainforests, it's no surprise why the region got its name.
- 1 Brisbane - largest city and state capital
- 2 Gold Coast - Australia's main party destination by the beach
- 3 Sunshine Coast - a budget northerly alternative to the Gold Coast
- 4 Ipswich - historical industrial city of Greater Brisbane
- 5 Logan City
- 6 Redland City - perhaps Greater Brisbane's most forgotten city
- 7 Moreton Bay
- 8 Gympie
- 9 Noosa – the splurge Sunshine Coast
- 1 Glass House Mountains – these cores of extinct volcanoes are so called because they are shaped like the glass furnaces of industrial Britain
- 2 Lamington National Park – the most prominent world heritage Gondwana Rainforest national park in Queensland
- 3 Moreton Island – environmental paradise within reach of Brisbane city
- 4 Mount Barney National Park
- 5 Noosa National Park – in the Noosa hinterland
- 6 North Stradbroke Island – the world's second largest sand island, near Brisbane
- 7 Numinbah Valley – in the Gold Coast hinterland
- 8 Springbrook National Park
- 9 Tamborine Mountain – in the Gold Coast hinterland
South East Queensland is the most populous and fastest growing region in Queensland.
Brisbane is Australia's third largest city and capital of Queensland.
The Gold Coast (including Surfers Paradise) to the south of Brisbane is possibly Australia's main party destination by the beach.
Renowned for its relaxed approach to Queensland life, the Sunshine Coast is famous for its uncrowded white sand beaches and green scenery to the north of Brisbane. Stretching for nearly 70 kilometres, the Sunshine Coast falls within the Sunshine Coast Council's jurisdiction and provides for a great (and popular) escape from Brisbane, or the Gold Coast. A holiday mecca even for South East Queensland locals, the Sunshine Coast is a great place to relax, unwind and taste the amazing local produce.
The Scenic Rim region is a thriving rural paradise with breathtaking scenery set in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and surrounded by world heritage listed national parks. Home to a population of more than 34,000, the region covers 4,250sq km and is located an hour south of Brisbane and an hour inland from the Gold Coast. From its myriad of wineries and art galleries to expansive bushwalking tracks, state of the art equine facilities, growing rural communities and friendly country charm. Many forest areas were previously logged, but the forest recovery has been excellent, and virtually all the logging tracks have disappeared except for those still used for foot access.
South East Queensland was home to 20,000 Aboriginal people prior to British occupation. Local tribes in the area included the Yuggurapal, Yuggumbeh, Quandamooka and the Gubbi Gubbi.
The Glass House Mountains of the region were sighted by Captain James Cook from the deck of the HM Endeavour in 1770. Other European explorers in the region included Matthew Flinders, John Oxley, Allen Cunningham, William Landsborough, Ludwig Leichhardt and Patrick Logan. In the 19th century, Europeans were able to settle in the region.
Many of the Sunshine Coast's towns began as simple ports and jetties for timber industry during the 1860s and 1870s, as the area once had magnificent stands of forest. Likewise, the region's road were used for hauling timber. Timbergetters used the region's creeks, rivers and lakes as seaways to float out their logs of cedar - the resultant wood being shipped far afield as Europe.
Brisbane is an 8-hour car journey from Sydney.
The region is very well served by three airports. Brisbane is the international hub, however both Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast airports have good connections throughout Australia.
See the Brisbane guide for Brisbane airport. An important international airport with many international connections. Trains directly from the airport will connect you with the city and the rest of the region. Buses and shuttle transfers to both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are available.
Gold Coast Airport
Gold Coast Airport (OOL IATA) is widely known as Coolangatta Airport. Because it straddles the NSW and Queensland borders, you land in one state and arrive in another. It is a fairly small terminal but handles around 3.5 million passengers per year with frequent connections from major Australian cities and some international flights from New Zealand and Asia.
- The airport is 30 minutes’ drive from Surfers Paradise and an hour from Byron Bay. The drive to Brisbane can take an hour and fifteen minutes.
- Jetstar, Qantas, and Virgin Australia all have frequent domestic flights from Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
- Internationally, AirAsia X and Air New Zealand fly in from New Zealand and Malaysia.
- Surfside Bus Lines offer convenient transfers to hotels and theme parks. The free Airport Link shuttle[dead link] takes you straight to the Gold Coast Highway, where public transport is readily available.
- Car rental companies can be located opposite the check-in counters at the airport.
- Taxis are available immediately outside the terminal.
Sunshine Coast Airport
- Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY IATA) (10km north of Maroochydore), ☏ +61 7 5453 1500. Has daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne. The airport has good facilities for an airport of its size, with multiple ATMs, rental cars, transfer services, and food and shopping outlets.
Brisbane has a direct train connection from Sydney which lasts 15 hours. A few hours slower than by car but a lot less stressful. For the more adventurous a connection from Melbourne via Sydney would take about 25 hours in total. Check plane ticket prices since a flight to one of the main three airports in this area may be cheaper than the train fare.
TransLink coordinates rail services in SEQ, including suburban services in Brisbane and interurban services on the North Coast rail line from Brisbane to Gympie North and the intermediate destinations Landsborough and Nambour, with connecting buses to Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Noosa, From Brisbane to the Gold Coast and intermediate destinations of Logan and Beenleigh and from Brisbane west to Ipswich and Rosewood.
South East Queensland's four main public transport modes (trains, buses, ferries and trams) are run by a single provider known as Translink. The Translink website (Phone: 13 12 30 or download the 'MyTranslink' app) is handy for researching public transport options between destinations. Google Maps also offers full public transport navigation, with real-time updated information across all four modes.
The go card is a contactless smart card that you can top up with funds. The card can be purchased from train station ticket counters, busway and tram fare machines, and selected newsagents and convenience stores of which there are many in each city. A deposit of $10 applies. The card can be topped up at the same locations, including fare machines at train stations.
The fare is deducted as you touch on and touch off each mode of transport. You must touch both on and off for all journeys regardless of the mode of transport. A failure to touch off will result in a fixed fare of up to $30 being charged to the card. Ferries and buses are fitted with validators as you board. Train stations and tram stops have fare gates or distinctive pink validators located on the platform.
Buying a go card removes the hassle of figuring out zones. Fares are discounted by 30% and free once you have paid for eight journeys within a week (Monday to Sunday). Translink uses the word "journey" to mean end-to-end journey including any required transfers, and the word "trip" to mean a single point-to-point trip. A journey can be made up of one or more trips on any mode of transport. When making a number of trips to get to your destination it is still one journey if you touch on within 60 minutes of touching off on your previous trip.
Getting a refund for the unused money and $10 deposit can be a hassle. If you have paid by credit card you need apply and have the money returned by cheque or by transfer to an Australian bank account. If you have paid by cash you can get a refund at a train station, including the airport train station.
Contactless cards (Visa/MasterCard/American Express) can be used to pay for train and tram journeys (buses and ferries will be available after 2023). This is far more convenient than purchasing a go card, and you don't have to worry about residual amounts remaining on the card when you leave. All the same benefits apply to using a contactless card as apply to using an adult go card.
Single paper tickets are available from train station ticket counters and all train, busway and tram fare machines. They are only valid for one way journeys and come at a premium. Buses are now pre-paid only so you will need to purchase a paper ticket beforehand or use a go card / contactless card instead.
If you are going to be doing short-term extensive travel or using the Airtrain, you can buy a 3-day or 5-day unlimited travel SEEQ Card for $79 and $129 respectively. SEEQ cards work like regular go cards however provide additional discounts at various tourist attractions around South-East Queensland. You don't have to worry about topping up and refunds, but you'll struggle to get value out of it unless you are catching the Airtrain.
You can be fined $261 for travelling without a valid ticket.
- Aussie World, Palmview. Off the Bruce Highway. A family theme park that has a collection of over 30 rides and attractions.
- Australia Zoo, Beerwah. Owned and run by the family of the late Steve Irwin, is a popular tourist drawcard in Beerwah. The site tends to be frequented more by overseas visitors.
- Blackall Range. An 846 ft mountain range with national parks, subtropical rainforests and waterfalls. It dominates the hinterland area of the Sunshine Coast region.
- Glass House Mountains National Park. And Beerburrum and Beerwah State Forests and Forest Reserves.
- Imbil State Forest. Rainforest and eucalypt forest. Camping in various areas. Tel: 13 13 04 for permits and information.
- Kondalilla National Park, ☏ +61 7-5494-3983. On Western Avenue about 4 km north of the centre of Montville. 327 hectares of lush subtropical rainforest and tall open forest plus Kondalilla Falls dropping 90 metres from Skene Creek into water pools below. Parking area, picnic facilities, barbecues, shelter sheds, toilets, a lookout and three walking trails. No fresh water available. Can become quite crowded during peak holiday periods.
- Noosa Biosphere Reserve. A UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve, which makes it a favourite holiday haven for its pristine natural environment and relaxed lifestyle.
- Picturesque hinterland towns are spread across the region.
The obvious thing to do is visit the beach and enjoy the sun. There are however a great deal of things to try out:
Brisbane & Moreton Bay
- Climb the Story Bridge in Brisbane. Although not quite as spectacular as Sydney's Harbour Bridge climb, this is still a great way to experience the city.
- Long walks are possible between various beaches around the various headlands (i.e., along the rocks) if the tide is low enough. Also at low tides, lots of interesting rock pools can be uncovered (but watch for unexpected waves if approaching near the edge).
- Dive the wreck of HMAS Brisbane with Sunreef Scuba Diving
- Go Tandem SkyDiving with Sunshine Coast Skydivers
- The adventurous may wish to climb one of the Glasshouse Mountains
- Surf, or learn to surf, at Noosa
- Take a train ride on the Mary Valley Rattler at Gympie
A good amount of Australia's produce is grown in the inland areas.
High-end dining experiences are to be had in Brisbane.
The beach towns in the region are known for hard partying and drinking.
Although not as well known as the vineyards of the other states, this part of Queensland does boast a growing wine industry.
- When swimming at surf beaches, swim on beaches patrolled by surf lifesavers and between the red and yellow flags. Surf conditions can change quickly, and invisible rips can cause problems for even the strongest swimmers. The flags denote the safest area to swim in and the area is monitored.
- Drinking alcohol and swimming is an obvious risk anywhere. The proximity of the beach to the party life in many of the towns in this area means this point is worth reinforcing.
- If you see signs warning swimmers that "stingers" (poisonous animals) are in the water, read them carefully as some are deadly. Find a pool or use one of the net protected beach enclosures common on many main beaches.
- Shark attacks are rare but possible. Always swim on a patrolled beach.
- Unlike further north in the state, Crocodiles are not a threat in this region.
- Central Queensland – Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island, two of the nearest attractions
- Darling Downs – the region inland
- Northern Rivers region of New South Wales is just across the border. A great road trip all the way down to Sydney is to be had.