From bountiful botanic gardens to idyllic mountaintop towns, here are our top day-trip picks in and around Brisbane for seniors.
It is incredibly easy to while the day away in the charming city of Brisbane. But when your day-trip dreams wander further afield from Queensland’s sunny capital, what then?
Fortunately, Brissy’s neighbours include wondrous rainforests, idyllic mountaintop towns and vast countryside, all comfortably within one or two hour’s drive, and well suited for those of us who may not be as young, and perhaps as agile, as we once were.
Here are our top day trips for seniors in and around Brisbane.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha, Toowong
At the base of Brisbane’s tallest mountain lies the city’s largest botanic gardens, a tranquil treasure you can easily forget is just seven kilometres, or a 15-minute drive, from the city centre.
An ideal day trip close to Brisbane, the gardens are bloomin’ magnificent: around 200,000 plants from around the world thrive in this 56-hectare sanctuary, which was first opened to the public in 1976.
Weaving pathways, most sealed, take you through luscious rainforests, a Japanese garden, a fern house, a Bonsai house, a fragrant garden and even a tropical dome: a large, climate-controlled structure where plants not suited to the Brisbane climate can flourish.
Open every day from 8 a.m., the Brisbane Botanic Gardens offers free guided walks daily, horticultural shows most weekends, and a range of activities perfect for the grandkids.
An on-site café serves breakfast and lunch, but if you’d like to enjoy your own home-baked goodies (which we know are always better), then why not bring a picnic rug and find a shady spot near the lake? Plenty of sheltered seating is also on hand for your picnic needs, as well as drinking fountains and toilets for your… other needs.
If you’d like more information about the gardens’ events, accessibility and facilities, stop in at the on-site Visitor Information Centre when you arrive! Entry to the gardens is free.
Mt Tamborine Gallery Walk and Heritage Estate Wines
To swap skyscrapers and city rivers for towering eucalypt and crystal clear waterfalls, one only needs to drive 90 minutes south of Brisbane to dive deep into the luscious Gold Coast hinterland.
Tamborine Mountain, home to Queensland’s oldest national park, presents a picture-perfect getaway to delight in all that Mother Nature has to offer.
It’s probably not where you’d expect to find a shopaholic’s heaven, but a certain street among the quaint villages of this mountain range offers precisely that. ‘Gallery Walk’, located on Long Road, draws plenty of foot traffic from locals and visitors alike, lined with over 70 specialty shops selling everything from clothes and jewellery to antiques, books, art, pottery, chocolate, fudge and more. Give yourself plenty of time to check out the iconic German Cuckoo Clock Nest!
After shopping to your heart’s content, you might like to enjoy a glass of award-winning wine at Heritage Estate Wine’s cellar door. These guys are from the Granite Belt originally but have conveniently set up shop amid this popular hub to provide much-needed refreshment and respite to its visitors.
If you need another excuse to pop in for a red, they’ve again this year received the prestigious 5-star winery rating from James Halliday.
Maleny and Montville Hinterlands
Heading to the hinterland that’s north of Brisbane, you’ll find the idyllic country towns of Montville and Maleny and another picture-perfect day trip from Brisbane for seniors.
Travelling from Brisbane, you’ll hit Maleny in about an hour, a town of green pastures, fresh air, and incredible Glass House Mountain views.
For those of us who love cheese, Maleny offers the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in all things dairy; it’s home to one of the state’s much-loved dairy producers, Maleny Dairies. Take a factory tour and fall in love with the family-owned farm’s gorgeous Guernsey cows, and even taste test their award-winning range.
From farmland to falls, if you fancy a walk, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to trails! Many walking trails of varying degrees of difficulty await at both Maleny and Montville, leading you to waterfalls, swimming holes, and breathtaking views. Be sure to check out Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Kondalilla National Park and Gardners Falls – a short track that finishes, if you please, with a freshwater swim.
Your appetite for nature quelled, it’s time to conquer another thirst – plenty of vineyards, breweries and restaurants boasting fresh, local produce provide the perfect finish to a perfect day trip.
Powerhouse Museum, New Farm
Constructed in stages from 1928, the New Farm Powerhouse once supplied electricity to Brisbane’s tram network, the largest in the southern hemisphere at its peak during the post-war years.
Now, the Powerhouse Museum is an electrifying hub of contemporary arts and culture, showcasing artistic talent from Australia and around the world.
While its function has certainly changed, its look has not; redevelopment preserved much of the building’s original elements after it was decommissioned. Even graffiti, or ‘aerosol art’, remains from the days it was occupied by squatters!
As such, the Powerhouse now sits proudly on the banks of the Brisbane River in New Farm as an industrial and historical landmark, and is about a 15-minute drive from the Brisbane CBD.
With a packed program of festivals and events all year round, you’re sure to find a show that takes your fancy. Just be sure to book in advance, as tickets often sell out quickly.
Though tickets aren’t overly expensive, if you’d rather save your pennies, the Powerhouse will often host free exhibitions you can tour at leisure. Or, you might simply like to enjoy a tea or coffee in one of its two restaurants overlooking the Brisbane River.
Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah
Just across the border in Murwillumbah New South Wales lies the Margaret Olley Art Centre, celebrating the life and art of this much-loved Australian painter.
Most known for her still life’s – and charismatic character – Margaret Olley produced many vibrant, expressive and at times intimate paintings of flora and domestic settings. She served as a muse to many artists and was the subject of two Archibald-Prize-winning portraits: from William Dobell (1948) and, more recently, Ben Quilty (2011).
Born in Lismore in 1923, Olley spent some of her life in Brisbane and Newcastle, and much of her career in Paddington in Sydney, before passing away in 2011 at the age of 88.
Her colourful studio in Paddington has been recreated at the Margaret Olley Art Centre, with original architectural elements and about 20,000 items Olley used in her art relocated there.
An hour-and-a-half drive from Brisbane, the Margaret Olley Art Centre is free to visit and offers a unique and personal insight into this successful Australian artist’s life. It’s a day trip not to be missed, whether you’re an art lover or not.