South East Queensland’s best National Parks

South East Queensland is home to many diverse wilderness areas, but there are some National Parks close to Brisbane which are a cut above the rest.

Great Sandy National Park

Located north of Tewantin, Great Sandy National Park includes the Cooloola area on the mainland and Fraser Island. Fraser Island is both a natural spectacle and a four-wheel driver’s dream, with crystalline perched lakes, sand blows and deep rainforest defining the terrain of the world’s largest sand island.

Cooloola’s coastline stretches out like a far-flung wilderness escape, its seclusion belying its closeness to Noosa in the south and Hervey Bay in the north. Both Fraser and Cooloola can be explored on foot via their respective Great Walks, which can be done in part or as full multi-day hikes.

Main Range National Park

One of the highlights of the Scenic Rim, Main Range’s rainforest-covered volcanic peaks are historically significant, both geographically and botanically. The pristine rainforest was once part of a pathway for Indigenous Australians to move from inland areas to the coast.

The Cunningham Highway cuts through the centre of Main Range at Cunningham’s Gap, which travellers can use to head off on side trips that run deeper into the range — notably Spicers Gap or north towards Manna Gum, Poplar Flat and Goomburra Forest camping grounds. Revered by hikers, sightseers and campers alike, Main Range presents a wealth of opportunities to all kinds of travellers.

Moreton Island National Park

Moreton Island is both a tourist attraction and an adventure destination. Tangalooma’s resorts offer some comfort within this wild island paradise that’s made for exploring. Featuring plenty of beach camping and glamping options, Moreton Island is perfect for a quiet holiday or off-road adventure. Packed with huge sand dunes, a miniature desert, Queensland’s first lighthouse and a range of lagoons and beaches to enjoy (on foot or by 4WD track), Moreton is a veritable island escape just an hour from Brisbane.

Conondale National Park

Characterised by its rolling ranges and looming rainforest, Conondale National Park features waterside camping, excellent hiking and some unique highlights. An easy 4WD track winds through the park, which is just south of Kenilworth in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, giving travellers a direct route to the area’s many scenic gems. These include Booloumba Falls, the Conondale Great Walk, the Strangler Cairn and Booloumba Creek, not to mention the many vistas of the surrounding ranges along the way.

D’Aguilar National Park

A sizable wilderness on Brisbane’s doorstep, D’Aguilar National Park features expanses of eucalypt woodland and sections of rainforest through rolling hills and valleys. The park is easily accessible and its range of lookouts, day-use areas and campgrounds make it a perfect destination for either a day or a weekend. The park’s size means there’s plenty of space for a range of 4WD tracks, allowing those who venture into the more remote Archer Camping Area to jump into the cooling waters of Neurum Creek.

Girraween National Park

The green terrain within Girraween National Park is studded with granite boulders of all sizes, creating an inimitable landscape. Walks to the park’s multiple granite monoliths and recognisable tors – the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Turtle Rock and Castle Rock – are the main highlights, made even more spectacular when the wildflowers bloom around springtime. Aside from the walks, Girraween also has a day-use area, camping areas and an easy, unsealed road from which you can explore the park’s unique scenery.

Sundown National Park

Remote and rocky, Sundown National Park is a taste of the outback close to Brisbane. Located four hours west of the city, the park’s challenging tracks and exposed granite outcrops give Sundown a distinctly wild atmosphere, enhanced by its lack of facilities and proclivity towards hot days and cold nights. For those in search of some real adventure without travelling too far afield, Sundown National Park is the perfect destination.

Content courtesy of Hema Maps. Hema Maps has been crafting folded maps, guides and digital navigation products for exploring Australia off the beaten track for over 30 years. Visit the Hema Maps website to find out where your next adventure could take you.