The Best National Parks Near Brisbane to Visit in 2021

The Best National Parks Near Brisbane to Visit in 2021

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Queensland is a huge state and with over 237 national parks you could spend years exploring them all. But if you don’t have years, you’ll be pleased to know that many of Queensland’s best national parks can be found just a stone’s throw from the state capital Brisbane. So whether you’re a Brisbane local looking for something in your own backyard or a visitor looking for a wild and uniquely Queensland experience, check out our list of the best national parks near Brisbane!

No matter what floats your boat, be it camping, bushwalking, or island escapes the best national parks near Brisbane have you covered. There’s something for everyone trying to escape the hustle and bustle of Brisbane city life, be it for a day trip, a weekend getaway or something longer. Explorers seeking mountains to conquer, boaties longing for the sea, beach bums dreaming of the world’s best beaches, or the ponderous looking for some stars to gaze at around a campfire, you’ll find it in incredible southeast Queensland.

Best National Parks Near Brisbane: Under 2 Hour Drive

This list of the best national parks near Brisbane can be reached in under two hours. Easily reachable as a day trip or weekend getaway.

Springbrook National Park

A picture of water falling at Macgregor Falls and Cave Creek in Springbrook one of the best national parks near Brisbane
Macgregor Falls and Cave Creek in Springbrook one of the best national parks near Brisbane. Photo by Daniel Campbell 

Located in the hinterland of the Gold Coast, Springbrook National Park is a great day trip from Brisbane. Just one and half hours from the Brisbane CBD, it is no wonder this national park is considered one of the best national parks near Brisbane.

Springbrook National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests. This collection of rainforests contains species that would have existed on the Gondwana supercontinent 550 million years ago. The World Heritage Area comprises a series of national parks in southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales and is one of the five World Heritage Areas in Queensland. Springbrook National Park is known for its stunning waterfalls and the lush rainforest that surrounds them.

Springbrook National Park has plenty of walking trails exploring the many waterfalls in the area. Walks are available for all types of bushwalkers from easy 30m trails to challenging 17km walks. Choose from the easy 200m return Goomoolahra Falls Lookout track for views over the Goomoolahra Falls, the Grade 3 4km Purling Brook Falls Circuit (~2 hours), or the Twin Falls 4km circuit (~ 2 hours).

Camping is also available at Springbrook National Park for those looking to extend your stay. Spaces, however, are limited with only 11 sites available. Make sure to book in advance in order to experience the most from Springbrook National Park!

For a complete list of trails and activities check out the Springbrook National Park website.

Lamington National Park

A picture of Chalahn Falls in Lamington, one of the best national parks near Brisbane. Photo by Joe Campbell
More stunning falls. Chalahn Falls in Lamington, one of the best national parks near Brisbane. Photo by Joe Campbell 

Just 1.5 hours from Brisbane is Lamington National Park. Lamington National Park also makes up part of the Gondwana Rainforests of World Heritage Area.

Lamington National Park is divided into two sections, the Green Mountains section and the Binna Burra section. Each section includes a wide arrany of walking tracks from easy 1.5km tracks to harder 15-20+ km walking tracks. The Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park is also the start or end of the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk for more experienced bushwalkers.

Only bush camping is available in the Lamington National Park, for those endeavoring on one of the longer walking trails. Camping is available at O’Reilly’s Campground near the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park.

Also, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Albert’s lyrebird while visiting Lamington National Park. The Albert’s lyrebird is endemic to the southeast border between Queensland and New South Wales and is known for its mimicry of other species of animals.

Main Range National Park

A boy walking through the paperbark forest in the Main Range National Park, one of the best national parks near Brisbane
Hiking in Main Range National Park, one of the best national parks near Brisbane

Another one of the best national parks near Brisbane is the Main Range National Park. Again only 1.5 hours from Brisbane’s CBD, it is the perfect place to escape city life even if just only for a day.

The Main Range National Park stretches from Mount Mistake to Springbrook covering more than 34,000ha over the Great Dividing Range. The main things to do in the Main Range National Park include camping and walking.

Beautiful campsites at Spicers Gap and in the Goomburra section at Poplar Flat or Manna Gum provide an awesome city escape for people looking to reconnect with nature.

There are also more than 20 different walking tracks in the Main Range National Park. Walking tracks begin at Spicers Gap, Cunninghams Gap, and Goomburra and range from easy grade 2 trails to harder grade 4 trails. If you enjoy waterfalls, head out along the 9.5km Gap Creek Falls track (~ 6 hours) from Cunninghams Gap or the 3.6km Araucaria Falls track (~1.5 hours) from the Goomburra section.

Or if you prefer climbing mountains, consider tackling Mount Mitchell the 10.2km return track (allow 3 hours) or the Mount Cordeaux track, a 6.8km return track that zig-zags through the rainforest.

Experienced bushwalkers can also hike the Scenic Rim Trail from the trailhead at Thornton View to Cunninghams Gap. The Scenic Rim Trail takes 4 days and three nights hiking along the 47km trail through the various vegetations of the Main Range National Park including the euclyptus forest, the subtropical rainforest and the rugged escarpments.

If you are looking for more great things to do near Brisbane, check out our article on the Best Things to do in Warwick and the Southern Downs Region!

Tambourine National Park

Another great national park behind the Gold Coast is Tambourine National Park. Unfortunately there is no camping in this national park, however, there are plenty of great short hiking trails to explore. Tamborine is yet another national park that comprises the Gondwana Rainforests of World Heritage Area.

Choose from a variety of short hikes such as the 500m return to view the Cedar Creek Falls (~15 min) or pick one of the slightly longer hikes such as the 4.8km Jenyns Circuit (~1.5 hours) through the towering Piccabeen Palms. Other walks include Curtis Falls 1.1m return track, the 3.6km Witches Falls circuit (~1 hour), and many more Tambourine National Park walks.

If you enjoy horseback riding, there are a handful of trails you can ride within Tambourine National Park!

Glass House Mountains National Park

A picture of the glasshouse mountains at sunset. One of the best national parks near Brisbane.
One of the most striking and best national parks near Brisbane, the Glass House Mountains national park is hard to miss. Photo by Lucbruna

It is hard to miss the Glass House Mountains when traveling to the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane. The collection of mountains, which are still known individually by their traditional names, were observed by explorer James Cook to “…very much resemble glass houses”.

The peaks rise up sharply and appear to tower over the flat of the southern Sunshine Coast hinterland, despite the largest peak, Mount Beerwah, reaching only 556 meters above sea level.

Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the Glass House Mountains for absailing and rock climbing. Those who like to keep two feet firmly planted on the ground can choose to explore the Glass House Mountains National Park on foot via a variety of trails. The walking tracks range from easy 200m return tracks to longer 13.4km return tracks.

The Glass House Mountains National Park is an awesome day trip in its own right or a great way to begin or end a trip to Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Best National Parks Near Brisbane: 2 – 3 Hour Drive

If you want to get away for a little bit longer, but not the hassle of a long drive home on Sunday afternoon, then these national parks near Brisbane may be perfect for you!

Mount Barney National Park

Mount Barney, one of the best national parks near Brisbane offers challenging and rugged wilderness adventure. Photo by Alan Wigginton
The Mount Barney National Park offers challenging and rugged wilderness adventure. Photo by Alan Wigginton 

Mount Barney National Park is one of the most rugged of the national parks near Brisbane. It is also another park included in the Gondwana Rainforest Australia World Heritage Area.

Recognizable by its many peaks including, Mount Barney, Mount Maroon, and Mount Lindsay that make up this national park, Mount Barney National Park is the best national park near Brisbane for climbing mountains and remote bushwalking.

With challenging hikes, peaks to summit and rocky gorges to traverse Barney is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. Hiking Mount Barney is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. Discover more information about exploring one of the best national parks near Brisbane at the Queensland national parks website.

Noosa National Park

Surfers waiting for a wave in crystal blue water with a rocky beach at Noosa National Park, one of the best national parks near Brisbane
The surfers catching a wave at Noos National Park, one of the best national parks near Brisbane!

The list of the best national parks near Brisbane would not be complete without Noosa National Park. If you are planning a weekend getaway from Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, then make sure you plan to visit this special place.

Noosa National Park set on the Noosa headland and offers access to some of the planet’s most beautiful beaches and stunning headlands via a variety of walking tracks across the 4,000 hectare park.

The most popular walk is the iconic Coastal Walk. This stunning 5.4km one-way trail takes you past beautiful stone-strewn bays, white sand beaches, and picturesque views of the stunning coastline framed by coastal forest.

Make sure to get to the Noosa National Park early to avoid the crowds and the fierce Queensland sun! Or better yet, head into the national park from Sunshine Beach to avoid the traffic heading to Noosa on any given weekend!

Best National Parks Near Brisbane: 3 – 4 Hours Drive

Not all of the best national parks near Brisbane are within striking distance. Some of them, you need to have a little bit of extra time up your sleeve, but are easily doable in a weekend.

Bunya Mountains National Park

Keep your eyes peeled for King Parrots while walking through the Bunya Mountains National Park

Located approximately 3.5 hours northwest from Brisbane off the A3, Bunya National Park is home to the ancient bunya pines, these towering trees can reach heights of up to 45m tall and is found pre-dominately in the northeast and southeast Queensland.

Make sure to pack your tent when heading to Bunya Mountains National Park as camping is allowed here. Like all the best national parks near Brisbane, there are plenty of walking trails to explore. Tackle the Eastern rainforest circuits with one of the six walking trails ranging from 500m to 10km which take you through stunning bunya pine forests. The western walks include five different walks ranging from 2.3km to 12km and depart from either the Dandabah or Paradise car parks.

Girraween National Park

Unlike many of the other national parks on this list, Girraween National Park is not located in a subtropical rainforest. Girraween may mean “place of flowers” but is most recognized for its granite boulders, and being located in the Granite Belt, this should come as no surprise.

Just 30 minutes south of Stanthorpe, known as the wine region of Queensland, this unique national park can turn a wine weekend getaway into a budget friendly destination. With two camping sites suitable for all types of campers, Girraween National Park is a budget friendly option for accommodation in the Stanthorpe wine region.

Even more, Girraween National Park has a selection of great walks to choose from before hitting the wineries! Head out to see the Granite Arch, a large boulder suspended on two other boulders in the form of an arch, on the 1.6 circuit walking track. Tackle Mount Norman, Girraween’s highest peak, via a strenuous 11 km return trail. There are plenty more walking trails to choose from in Girraween National Park ranging from 600m to 10km.

Best National Parks Near Brisbane: Island Edition

Whether you’re from Queensland or not, it’s pretty clear Queensland is blessed with some of the best coast anywhere on the planet! From the Great Barrier Reef in the north to the world class surf beaches in the south. The islands just off the east of Brisbane are no exception and offer world class national park experiences a short trip across Moreton Bay.

Naree Budjong Djara National Park, Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island

The beautiful blue-green waters of Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island.
Only 30 kilometers from downtown Naree Budjong Djara is definitely on of Brisbane’s best national parks

The beautiful Minjerribah, also known as North Stradbroke Island is popular tourist destination and a favourite of Brisbane locals.

Stradbroke is the the most developed of Brisbane’s islands. With tiny three settlements, primarily catering to the tourist industry, the island’s total permanent population is less than 1,500. The island is accessible by vehicles and pedestrians via private ferries.

Over 50% of the large sand island, which is almost 40 kilometers long and up to 11 kilometers wide, is protected by the Naree Budjong Djara National Park.

Surf beaches, beautiful gorges, serene lakes, and inland walking tracks are just some of the attractions of the Naree Budjong Djara National Park and the Island. Remote camping is available on Main Beach and can be accessed via 4wd.

For more information on exploring Naree Budjong Djara National Park and Minjerribah see the parks website.

Mulgumpin, Moreton Island National Park and Recreation Area

An aerial shot of the Tangalooma Wrecks off Moreton Island. One of the best national parks near Brisbane.
The Tangalooma wrecks are one of the reason many visit this national park near Brisbane

Moreton Island, also known as Mulgumpin another huge sand island, is less developed than North Stradbroke Island. With just four small communities numbering less than a few hundred permanent residents each, 95% of the island is a national park and it is only accessible by private boat or by ferry.

Within the national park, popular activities include camping on isolated and remote beaches. Fishing the beaches of Moreton Island is another draw card here. Many visitors are attracted to Moreton Island for the diving and snorkeling opportunities. Flinders Reef and the Tangalooma wrecks are two popular diving locations. Walking trails between 500 meters and 16 kilometers are a great way to explore many of the attractions of the interior of the island.

For more information on this beautiful and remote island destination head to the Queensland national parks website.

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Some truly spectacular wild places, right on Brisbane’s doorstop! We hope you enjoyed our list of the best national parks near Brisbane. If you are looking for more Queensland national parks why not check out best national parks from Brisbane to Cairns.

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What did you think of our list? Do you have any questions? Did we miss any of the best national parks near Brisbane? Let us know in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “The Best National Parks Near Brisbane to Visit in 2021”

  1. Ohhh this reminds me of my trip to Australia many years ago. I saw wild koalas in Melbourne and kangaroos in Sydney. Would love to see them again, maybe in Brisbane next time. Saving this for my future reference. 🙂

    1. Brisbane sometimes gets overlooked in favor of Sydney and Melbourne but there are some amazing places nearby and you can’t beat the weather!

  2. Jenn - The Solivagant Soul

    What a great compilation of natural wonders. I have never been to Australia before but somehow I either think of it as wonderful beaches or red deserts. It is amazing to see these parks and realize how different they are.

  3. This is incredible and such a variety of great parks to visit. I love National Parks and explore nature and go hiking, this guide just inspired me to want to visit this area that is new to me. Thanks for all the tips and inspiration!

  4. I love when national parks have waterfalls to visit! These all look so beautiful to plan a trip to and hike around – definitely saving for later!

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