South east Queensland and Northern NSW is littered with scenic drives.
From the mountains to the rainforest, we found some cool drives that will have you ready to jump in the car.
In the Lockyer Valley, you can recreate the journey of pioneers building the tracks up to Toowoomba on the steep range. Stop at Jessie’s Cottage in Murphys Creek, where you can see the history of the region thanks to volunteers who want to preserve a slice of the quiet rural town that used to be a thriving business hub.
You can then travel through to Spring Bluff Railway Station, a heritage-listed site that has landscaped gardens overlooking the Lockyer Valley. After you’ve enjoyed lunch here, circle back down to Toowoomba down the New England Highway, fuel up if you need it, before heading home.
For a full map of the Spring Bluff-Murphys Creek Drive, download this map from the Lockyer Valley Visitor Information Centre.
Leaving from Brisbane, this drive is around 300km round trip. Heading out and coming back will probably take just over half a day, depending on how leisurely you want to take in the sights.
While the Darling Downs is packed with sights, including waterfalls and the 14 Creek Crossings, it is also rich in history – with each town full of colourful stories in their past.
The White Swamp Border Crossing Circuit leaves Killarney, just south of Warwick, and travels out of town via Spring Creek Road – passing the famous waterfalls of the region, to White Swamp Rd.
There’s an unmanned border gate here, which is a symbol of how seriously border quarantine used to be taken between the states. There is even a record of a young man during the 1919 Spanish Flu outbreak who didn’t want to come home from a dance in NSW when the gate was shut at midnight – ending up taking three weeks to ride his horse back home to Killarney to get around the border controls.
This drive travels through the Koorelah National Park, where you can stop by the creek to swim and have a picnic – then continue back to Killarney via the Mount Lindesay Road, or turn back towards Woodenbong then travel back up the Summerland Way/Mount Lindesay Highway towards Brisbane.
This drive is under 400kms there and back, leaving from Brisbane, give or take how long you take for lunch.
Tip: If you’ve got the whole day, or leave early enough and just stop for a quick lunch – keep travelling along Summerland Way after you’ve left Koorelah, through the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales (through Kyogle and Lismore) to Ballina – where you can enjoy a drive back up the coast, or even do some off-road driving at South Ballina Beach if you’ve got your 4WD.
The Nightcap National Park in northern NSW has a hidden gem in Minyon Falls, a spectacular waterfall that cascades 100 metres down the cliffs that form part of the former Tweed Volcano. You can swim at the bottom, or even have a few Instagram shots over at the Minyon Grass viewing platform.
While in the national park, you can drive through towering rainforest and spot native wildlife. You don’t even need a 4WD, although heavy rains can create floods from small creeks around the park. There are picnic areas dotted around the Falls, including BBQs and amenities.
To get to the national park, travel down the highway from Brisbane through the Gold Coast across the border to Brunswick Heads – turning in towards Mullumbimby, continue travelling west towards Repentance Creek Rd, which is the access road to Nightcap.
The trip to Minyon Falls is around 370kms from Brisbane and back, but if you don’t fancy driving back in rain or late in the afternoon, National Parks NSW allows campers to set up overnight in the park through an honesty pay system ($10/adults, $5/child, per night.)
Before you set off, get your car checked so that you make it to and from your trip with no troubles. The expert technicians at Motorama see over 30,000 vehicles per year pass through our service departments, and our friendly service advisors can go for a drive with you to see if it’s more than just a bit of a rattle. And if you are taking your 4WD, it's even more important to get it checked out if you're going off-road - as well as pack the essential equipment you'll need for an adventure off the sealed roads!
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