The weather is hot and the end-of-year work commitments have wound down (hopefully), which means it’s time to get out of the city for a day or two.
But that doesn’t mean you have to head to the beach. With all those wide strips of sand lying around south-east Queensland it’s easy to forget Brisbane is an easy drive away from mountains in the north, south and west.
Here’s a bunch to explore for all kinds of different summer escapes.
Best mountain to picnic: Mount Glorious
If you don’t have a whole day but you’re keen on a temperature drop, Mount Glorious is an easy hour’s drive away. At the peak it can be six degrees cooler than the city below, which could be key to not losing your mind on a typically sweaty mid-summer Brisbane day.
Drive it as a circuit up through Mount Nebo and down through Samford Valley. The Mount Nebo leg offers a bunch of great lookouts where you can get out and stretch your legs.
After the scenic drive, Maiala Picnic Area, at the top of Mount Glorious, makes for the perfect destination to enjoy a packed lunch. The grassy hill is well resourced with barbeques, bathrooms and plenty of shady spots to lay out your picnic blanket. It’s also the starting point for several walks through the surrounding rainforest.
Best mountain to hike: Mount Tibrogargan
Mount Tibrogargan is more of a free climb than a hike and is by far the most challenging of all of the Glass House Mountains to scale.
It begins with a series of stairs before you hit a vertical rock face affectionately known as the chicken fence, as this is where people tend to chicken out. Once you conquer the wall, there’s another 20 minutes of hiking before reaching the top.
Wear good trail shoes, keep your backpack slim so it doesn’t affect your centre of gravity and drag along a friend who can spot for you as you climb. Keep an eye out for the arrows that help plot the way, and definitely do not attempt the trail in the wet.
While the climb is unlikely to keep you cool, the mountain air at the summit definitely will – at 364 metres above see level you’ll be about as high as a 50-storey building. The reward is fabulous views of the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and the other Glass House Mountains.
Best mountain to stay: Spicers Peak Lodge
If you need a little more time away from the heat, book a night or two at Spicers Peak Lodge.
At 1100 metres above sea level, it’s the highest non-alpine lodge in Australia – a serene getaway set upon a small, grassy plateau with views of rolling hills and farmland.
A 20-minute drive from the highway up a dirt road, it’s not an easy place to leave. But you won’t really want to, with bushwalks, hiking tours, bike trails and horse rides all available onsite. The winsome pool, award-winning restaurant and fire pit (a neat accompaniment to an evening of stargazing) go okay, too.
Best mountain to swim: Mount Mee
Rocky Hole at Mount Mee is a little tricky to get to, but worth the drive if you prefer a more secluded swimming spot.
Once you’re out of the city, take the D'Aguilar Highway (R85) at Caboolture heading toward The Gantry Day Use Area in D'Aguilar National Park. Just past The Gantry, take the first turn on the right, Neurum Creek Road. A four-wheel drive is recommended for this portion of the track.
Then, from the signed car park it’s a short walk into a gorge and the secluded Rocky Hole. It’s surrounded by rock platforms, caves and dry bushland. The granite shelves keep the water sheltered and cool with fresh water flowing from waterfalls after rain. There are no amenities or facilities but this of course helps keep it from being overrun, adding to the appeal.
If you’re concerned about not having access to a four-wheel drive, check out The Northbrook Gorges at Mount Glorious.
Best mountain for views: Springbrook
Springbrook is maybe best known for its rainforest walks and waterfalls, but it also boasts some of the best views in south-east Queensland.
For the killer spots head for the top of the Springbrook Plateau section. Here there’s a concentration of short walks and stunning lookouts.
Wunburra Lookout, Purling Brook Falls Lookout, Canyon Lookout and Goomoolahra Falls Lookout are all fantastic. As the name suggests, though, the pick is Best of All Lookout – a 600-metre walk through clusters of 2000-year-old Antarctic beech trees leading to a rocky outcrop with extraordinary views to the south-east.
Best mountain for families: Mount Tamborine
If you need a mountain for all occasions, Tamborine is for you.
There are bushwalks and brilliant views of the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim, but Mount Tamborine also has a couple of handsome high streets with craft and gift shops, fashion boutiques, antique stores and unfussy eateries. There’s also a bunch of honour boxes scattered across the plateau where you’ll find fresh produce such as rhubarb and avocado.
Most shops open from 10am to 4pm so there’s plenty of time to make the trek from Brisbane that morning and tie it in with a bushwalk or some lunch. Try and do it on a Sunday so you can visit the Mount Tamborine Markets, and stop in at Granny Macs on the way home for locally made treats.
Best mountain for a foodie day trip: Blackall Range
If food is more your tip then head north towards the Blackall Range towns of Maleny and Montville. Both are an easy drive up the Bruce Highway and then on to Steve Irwin Way (although the back route via Dayboro and Mount Mee is a stunning drive, if you have a bit more time to kill).
If you’re there in time for breakfast, Monica’s and Shotgun Espresso in Maleny and Little May in the more tourist-oriented Montville all offer fresh seasonal food that is lovingly prepared. After breakfast, you can take a tour of Maleny Dairies where you’ll see the process behind their award-winning products – with tastings of course.
Grab lunch and a few afternoon drinks at the award-winning Brouhaha brewpub. The region is showcased on a menu that features meat from Maleny Wagyu, dairy from Maleny Dairies and Mooloolaba prawns. While there, taste your way through the seasonal beer offering or try something a bit funkier from the limited releases.
A food tour through Maleny and Montville wouldn’t be complete without dinner at The Long Apron. Spicers Tamarind’s star restaurant offers elevated modern Australian food cut through with Euro influences. It’s also won awards for its classy wine list, in case you want to stay the night.