Looking for a self-drive holiday packed with activities, with enough breaks during the journey to enjoy the fresh air and scenery? Then a trip Down Under that takes you from Brisbane to the luscious Sunshine and Gold Coasts in Southern Queensland, offering you oodles of fun and plenty of relaxation along the way, is the ideal vacation for you.
Gateway: To Brisbane by "The Flying Kangaroo"
Whether you're cuddling a koala bear in your arms, taking in the sights of the Brisbane skyline atop Story Bridge or sampling the freshest produce at one of its many weekend markets, there's plenty to do on a holiday in Australia's third-largest city.
And, to get your holiday off to a flying start, try pampering yourself with Qantas' new inflight dining experience. What's not to like, with a welcome drink after take-off, bigger meals and continual grazing during the flight?
Nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo", Qantas was founded in the Queensland outback in November 1920. Its first international flight was from Brisbane to Singapore in 1935. Qantas now flies the Brisbane-Singapore route daily.
Three must-dos in Brisbane
Mount Coot-tha: Before you jump behind the wheel, head up the city's highest peak (at 287m above sea level) for a spot of mountain-biking and trail-walking that should cure you of any lingering big city vibes. The panoramic views of the city and Moreton Bay are well worth the short climb.
Cruise to Moreton Island: It's a 75-minute cruise from Brisbane to Moreton Island, famed for its serene beauty and home to the Tanglooma Island Resort, where hand-feeding wild bottlenose dolphins surely ranks high on any avid traveller's bucket list. Thrill-seekers can also try their hand at sandboarding on the massive white sand dunes on the island. You can do this as a day trip, or stay the night at the resort's beach-front accommodation.
Arts tour: If it's the arts you're after, one of the best ways to get to know the city better is by hopping on the CityCat ferry for a riverside tour of the South Bank Cultural Precinct, which houses, among other things, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Queensland Museum.
But, why stop in Brisbane only?
The themed attractions down south in the Gold Coast area are well within reach by car, while the Sunshine Coast, with its picturesque beaches, is a leisurely drive up north, making Brisbane the ideal gateway for exploring southern Queensland on a self-drive jaunt.
Gold Coast's themepark mania
Start your road trip with the 80km drive south to Gold Coast and come face-to-face with a theme park conundrum - should you tackle some of the most extreme water slides over at Wet 'n' Wild Water World first, or embrace your inner film buff with a visit to Movie World?
With four major attractions (and a score of smaller ones) to choose from, either take this useful theme park quiz to find out which works best or check out this survival guide if you're bent on conquering them all.
Of course, the idea of spending the bulk of your time in theme parks might sound tempting to the kids, but it would be a shame not to venture out into the hinterlands of the Gold Coast. About an hour's drive away is luxury resort O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, situated in the World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park. From there, hire a 4WD for a bumpy tour of the hidden tracks and trails within this lush rainforest, or rise bright and early to snag a hot air balloon flight for an incomparable view of the sunrise.
To market, to market at Sunshine Coast
When it's time to get back on the road up north to the Sunshine Coast, a visit to Queensland is not complete without a trip to the 40ha Australia Zoo. Opened by the parents of the late famed crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, it's the best chance to get up close and personal with most of Australia's indigenous animals.
Time yourself for a Wednesday or Saturday arrival to experience the bustling Eumundi Markets in full swing. Day tours by bus can be booked, or you could just wander around the 600 artisan stalls in search of handmade arts and crafts, eclectic furniture and a bounty of fresh, local produce. The annual Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, held in May, is also the best time to embark on a food trail of the region's culinary highlights.
There she blows! Whale watching on Fraser Coast
Hervey Bay, one of two central cities in the Fraser Coast region, isn't known as the whale watching capital of the world for nothing. The best time to catch a glimpse of a humpback is during their annual migration from July to November.
Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, is also the only place on the planet where a rainforest has sprouted up from sand dunes. It's also the perfect place to capture an Instagram-worthy sunset photo.
If you've got time...
Just a little further up north (about 380km from Brisbane) is the city of Bundaberg. The nearby Mon Repos Beach bears witness to a scene straight out of a National Geographic show - the annual hatching of thousands of baby turtles from January to March.
It also provides easy access to Lady Elliot Island, where you can snorkel in the clear waters rich with marine life. Perhaps you will see your first giant manta ray or green sea turtle here. Lady Elliot Island also marks the start of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
LEE MIN KOK
Qantas flies daily from Singapore to Brisbane, leaving at 8.50pm and the returning flight leaving at 10.10am.
Free your mind in spectacular Southern Queensland
Singapore-Brisbane from $659* return Economy.
Travel dates: March 1-April 8 and April 21-July 2, 2015
Book now at qantas.com
*Sale ends Feb 8, 2015, unless sold out prior. Terms and conditions apply.