7 Days Exploring Queensland’s Unique Wildlife and Nature


Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, has long been known as a gateway to the Gold Coast and many of the state’s other highlights. On this itinerary, you’ll be based in the city to explore the sights of Brisbane itself and venture to nearby wonders.

One of those wonders is Moreton Island, located an hour from Brisbane. Here you can snorkel with colorful fish, sea turtles, and maybe even dolphins, as well as explore the Tangalooma Wrecks. The next day, you’ll travel to lush Binna Burra, Lamington National Park, home to some 500 (!) waterfalls, where you’ll enjoy the comfort of a family-run rainforest retreat.

This trip allows you to explore many other fun, fascinating activities in Queensland as well: taking in the views of Brisbane from some of its rooftop bars, learning about Indigenous cultures, and cuddling a koala.


Trip Highlight

W Brisbane

With a mix of colonial heritage and colorful contemporary design, the W Brisbane is both modern and cosmopolitan while also reflecting the city’s unique ethnic and multicultural influences. The hotel’s theme is inspired by the Brisbane River, which you can see from your room.

Trip Designer

United Airlines

With nonstop United Airlines flights from San Francisco or Los Angeles to Brisbane, there’s never been a better time to visit Queensland. After enjoying an in-flight meal, movie, and snooze, you can snorkel the world’s largest coral reef, lay on white-sand beaches, dine at award-winning restaurants, and wander through ancient rainforests. Come and let Queensland captivate you today.

DAY 1Arrival into Brisbane

You’ll arrive this morning in beautiful Brisbane, the capital of Queensland—Australia’s Sunshine State. It’s an ideal destination, offering a unique combination of vibrant cultural and culinary scenes with a decidedly relaxed attitude. It’s also a popular gateway to the sun, surf, and beaches of the Gold Coast, drawing travelers from around the world in search of adventure.

Your hotel for the next four nights is the W Brisbane. Since it opened in 2018, the W Brisbane has emerged as a hotel that embodies the energy of Brisbane.

Your room’s colorful design with eye-popping accents in electric blue, pink, and gold will encourage “River Dreaming.” After you’re settled, descend to explore some of central Brisbane. The hotel’s location is just a short walk from many of the parks and cultural sites of the city.
African American_Day 2.jpg

DAY 2Cuisine and Culture

Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, has long been known for its mild climate and laidback attitude. In recent years, new restaurants, galleries, and boutiques have elevated the city to the top of the must-visit lists of many travelers. Begin by sampling locally roasted coffees and then visit bakeries and bars to try some of the region’s amazing wines, local craft beers, and even a Queensland-inspired cocktail with a view of the Brisbane River.

This afternoon, an alfresco lunch under the blue skies of Brisbane is a must when visiting the city. The South Bank Parklands, Howard Smith Wharves, Eagle Street Pier, and Brisbane Powerhouse have many popular restaurants to choose from, covering all the cuisines of the world.

Next, explore the cultural precinct and the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art. This gallery is known for hosting temporary exhibitions and permanent collections of Australian and Indigenous art. Here, you can also check out the Queensland Museum, adjacent to the Queensland Art Gallery, where exhibitions cover the natural history of the state.

Get a deeper understanding of Australia’s Aboriginal people with a BlackCard Cultural Tour. The company—100-percent Aboriginal owned and operated—offers three cultural walking tours that afford unique insights into the history and soul of Brisbane by showing you the city through the eyes of its original inhabitants.

You’ll then be ready for cocktails at one of Brisbane’s many rooftop bars that take advantage of the city’s warm evenings and glittering skyline. Our picks include Terrace at the Emporium Hotel, Fiume Rooftop Bar, Maya, and Bar Alto at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Afterwards, head to dinner on your own at one of the restaurants that has helped make Brisbane a destination for culinary travelers, like Stanley, a restaurant at the Howard Smith Wharves, Hellenika at the Calile Hotel, and Za Za Ta.

DAY 3A Private Tour of Brisbane’s Highlights

You’ll depart this morning to check out Brisbane and some of the highlights just outside the city. While Aboriginal people visited and lived in this area for centuries, its recorded history begins at the end of the 18th century; a permanent settlement was established here in 1823. The city boasts a number of graceful historic buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, which your guide will point out.

Your first stop outside the city is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where you can see and learn about the kangaroos, wombats, platypuses, and birds that live here. You’ll also learn about the sanctuary’s efforts to ensure the health and well-being of the 130 koalas who live there.

Afterwards, continue on to lunch at The Summit Restaurant, Mt. Coot-tha. Your meal will be paired with spectacular views over the city of Brisbane and beyond to Moreton Bay. Later in the afternoon, stop at some other sites, including the South Bank Parklands, Kangaroo Point Cliffs, and historic Story Bridge. If time allows, stop at Newstead House, the city’s oldest residence. What began as a modest home in 1846 was greatly expanded in 1867 to become a luxurious estate; today it’s a museum furnished with antiques that bring to life Brisbane in the 19th century.

This evening you may want to try City Winery, the only winery located within the city limits that’s best known for producing wines using grapes sourced from nearby vineyards. The menu celebrates the best of the state’s fruits, vegetables, and meats, which typically come grilled and roasted, letting the ingredients shine.

DAY 4Moreton Island

Today travel to gorgeous Moreton Island, where you can try a thrilling activity you’ve likely never done before: boom-netting—riding on the edges of a huge net being pulled by a boat. Afterwards, snorkel around the Tangalooma Wrecks, a group of 15 ships intentionally sunk here to create a safe anchorage for yachts. Coral now grows on many of the wrecks, which have become home for countless colorful fish.

If you’re feeling ambitious, in the afternoon you can climb the sand hills of Moreton Island to take in the views of the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Or you can simply enjoy some time on the island’s pristine beaches and swim in the sea.

DAYS 5 AND 6Explore the Rainforest

Today you’ll head out to lush Lamington National Park, a World Heritage-listed rainforest that’s full of wildlife, hiking trails, and more than 500 waterfalls. Here you’ll have an unforgettable two-night getaway at O’Reilly’s—a family-run retreat that has been welcoming visitors for more than 90 years. Book the Best of O’Reilly’s package and you’ll get an all-inclusive deep dive into this spectacular area.

In between, you can enjoy activities like early morning bird walks and a unique tree top walk—traipsing through the forest canopy on a series of suspension bridges more than 50 feet off the ground, checking out birds and other wildlife. Hike to some of those spectacular waterfalls and buy some bird seed to feed the wild birds that make their homes here, like the Crimson Rosella and King Parrot.

DAY 7Depart

Today you’ll head back to Brisbane and start your journey home. If part of you is realizing already that you are going to miss the warm days and friendly locals of Brisbane and Queensland, remember that you’re always welcome to return. In five days, you’ll only have seen a small part of all that the city and the state offer.
More From This Author