Heading to the coast for the day from Brisbane can be more than heading into the surf for the day. Although there are plenty of stunning beaches to choose from, there are also stunning scenic views that can be best seen when driving.
From the coast to the hinterlands to the windy country roads, a scenic drive through the Gold Coast can bring far more variety than you might think.
Here are three drives which can be completed as a day trip from Brisbane, with still enough time to be home for dinner.
1. Palm Beach to Mt Cougal National Park via Currumbin Creek Rock Pools(40 mins one way, excluding stops)
Although many people know of or have heard of the Currumbin Rock Pools, there are still plenty of Brisbaners who have never made the journey to see them. Taking a dip in the chilly waters may not be everyone's idea of an enjoyable day out, but the drive through Currumbin Valley is definitely worth it.
The easiest way to get there is to start from Palm Beach. Here you can fuel up and get caffeinated at Dune Cafe overlooking a quiet little park area. Make your way to Currumbin Creek Rd then stay on this road for the duration of the journey.
About 10kms in you'll get to Three Figs Cafe which offers meals made from locally sourced produce. If you like unique, crafted homewares, head inside to the Greenbird Gallery where you'll find a variety of items with a true eco flair. From here, keep following the road until you get to Currumbin Creek Rock Pools. If it's warm enough outside, take a dip in the refreshing waters before warming up again in the afternoon sun. Get back onto Currumbin Creek Rd and follow it all the way to Mt Cougal National Park (about 12kms). Once you've reached the end, park the car, grab some water and head on to the Cougal Cascades Track. It's a fairly short walk and also wheelchair and pram friendly, so it's great for the whole fam.
For your drive back, head back the same way, this time making a stop at Currumbin Valley Harvest where you can pick up some fresh produce, baked goods or simply a warm drink. Currumbin Valley Harvest is open weekends from 7:30am - 12pm.
2. Surfers Paradise to Aratula via Mt Tambourine (2 hours one way, excluding stops)
The lush, green, windy road up to Tambourine Mountain is one of the most scenic in the Gold Coast. If you're coming straight from Brisbane and don't have all day to spare, you can head straight to Mt Tambourine via Yatala. But if you have the time, I'd go in from Surfers Paradise. Coming from this side you'll get the scenic route on both sides of Tambourine Mountain.
Once you're at the top, park the car and walk around for a while. There is so much to see in such a small area. Walking tracks, breweries, art galleries, restaurants and cafes, gardens and nurseries, markets, wineries and even some salons to get the ultimate pampering. When you've done about as much as you can in this small town, hop back in your car to continue the leisure and make your way towards Canungra.
Continue along Route 90 all the way to Aratula. You'll pass quaint country towns and calm roads to show you a contrasting side of the Gold Coast from where you started.
3. Nerang to Natural Bridge via Hinze Dam (1 hour, excluding stops)
The drive through the country to Hinze Dam and Advancetown Lake is so peaceful and secluded, and being there overlooking the waters is just as calming. The drive itself is only a short 30 mins from Nerang, but once you arrive you can spend some time relaxing around the area. Be sure to stop in at View Cafe which does as the name implies and provides a great view over the lake. To walk off your breaky, head over to the Hinze Dam walk. Four easy kilometres of pure serenity as you're surrounded by the undisturbed waters around you.
From there, get back onto Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd on State Route 97 for another 30 mins to the Natural Bridge at Springbrook National Park. No scenic trip to the Gold Coast would be complete without this, whether you've already been or it's your first time. So be sure to have your walking shoes ready for the easy, but well-worthy hike.