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Queensland sure has some of the best beaches in the country. Period. Pulling yourself away from them can be challenging at times – but once you’ve ventured out into Queensland Country and seen the light, you’ll ask yourself why you haven’t been sooner. Here’s what we discovered.

1. Cycle the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Location: Yarraman to Ipswich
Distance: 161km (total)
Cost: Free

If seeing things on two wheels is your thing, then this off-road adventure trail stretching across South East Queensland is for you. And with varying sections, each with its characteristics and difficulty level, there’s something for everyone. Do a few sections over multiple days – with camping to luxurious accommodation available — or set your sights on a particular chunk and complete a day mission. Have it your way.

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Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Somerset Region

But what’s in store? Well, the trail winds its way through charming country towns, heritage-listed sites, and idyllic scenery. There are plenty of places to stop, take a picture, and breathe it all in. Throw in copious amounts of pioneer history, a bit of wildlife, and annual events and attractions. There’s plenty to keep you interested and engaged for the extent of any ride on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

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Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Cycles, Somerset Region

2. Cowboy Up!

Location: Emu Creek
Cost: $145 for two hours

Gill and Peter Gould take all levels of riders on group rides across their sprawling farm property at Cowboy Up in Emu Creek just outside the Mount Binga National Park. The pair have been riding horses for decades, and Peter himself is an esteemed rodeo rider and even taught Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman how to ride while doubling as a stunt rider in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.

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Cowboy Up, Toowoomba Region

There’s a leisurely one-hour or two-hour trail ride that takes in the length of the property, its spectacular views, and shaded gullies. For the authentic country experience, you can stop and share a yarn on horseback while learning about the local area. After that, things go up a notch with a spot of trotting or cantering – so hold on tight! Whatever time of year you pay a visit, wearing pants like jeans is best advised; after all, they were invented for cowboys.

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Cowboy Up, Toowoomba Region

3. Views Galore on the Koondaii Circuit

Location: Bunya Mountains National Park
Distance: 2.5km circuit, with many more trails to choose from
Cost: Free

Quickly climbing to around the 1000-metre mark from a relatively flat plain, this elevated range sticks out on the Queensland horizon. And it makes the Bunya Mountains one of Australia’s most distinctive national parks, with characteristic, native Bunya pines and towering grass trees lining the ridges and escarpments like sentries on duty.

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Koondaii Circuit, Bunya Mountains, Western Downs

Mountains bikers rejoice: there are three designated trails and one shared-use trail for mountain biking, all relatively wide and with gentle gradients. For walkers, the Koondaii Circuit is one of eight marked trails that winds through the mountaintops either beside gurgling creeks or high in the clouds.

This particular path follows a gentle slope down, cutting in and out of the dense forest where, if you’re lucky, you might snatch glimpses of circling Peregrine falcons. Eventually, you’re rewarded with a lookout showcasing a jaw-droppingly impressive view across the expansive Western Downs.

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Koondaii Circuit, Bunya Mountains, Western Downs

4. Wild Swimming at Bottlebrush Pool

Location: Crows Nest National Park
Distance: 2.7km return

The Crows Nest Falls Circuit provides hikers with a great way to cool things off or an exhilarating cold dip. Regardless of when you visit, you can give this one a go year-round, and it’s equally as fun.

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Crows Nest Falls, Toowoomba Region

The trail starts flat before you find yourself side by side with granite boulder-strewn cascades. There’s an opportunity to add on the Kauyoo Pool Loop on the way out or the way back; it’s a chance to see the water rushing by, destined for the pools further down below.

Further on, bush-lined steps bring you down to the dazzling waters of Bottlebrush Pool and the nearby lookout, where you can catch glimpses of the Valley of Diamonds. Take in the views afterwards because, trust us, it won’t be long before you drop your things and jump in for a swim.

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Crows Nest Falls, Toowoomba Region

5. Wet a Line Out West

Location: Coolmunda Dam

Soaking up the serenity beside a body of water far removed from stress must be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Sure, come to Coolmunda Dam for the camping and peace and quiet – but above all else, make sure you stay for the fishing.

Anglers will be pleased to hear this stretch of water has stocks of Silver and Golden perch as well as Murray cod, so there’s every chance to catch a feed and cook it up. Cast a line from the banks, or even better, use the boat ramp to get out onto the water.

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Coolmunda Dam, Goondiwindi Region

And if fishing isn’t your thing, you can pass the time water-skiing or wakeboarding with only the resident pelicans as spectators. Early risers will score a mirrorlike sunrise over the water, while in the evenings, taking in the pastel sunsets from beside your campfire can be just as good. Your call!

6. Queen Mary Falls Circuit

Location: Main Range National Park
Distance: 2km return

Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, the Queen Mary Falls Circuit is a remarkable slice of Queensland nature. There’s a certain romance to taking in a cascading waterfall – it’s the type of thing you could watch for hours. And it couldn’t be truer at this tucked-away spot in the Main Range National Park, a Queensland country experience only two hours from Brisbane.

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Queen Mary Falls, Southern Downs & Granite Belt

Rangers suggest taking the circuit in a clockwise direction, but if you head the other way, you come across Spring Creek splashing its way through the forest toward its 40-metre drop. This quickens your pace, meaning it doesn’t take long until you find the lookout, where you’ll witness the entirety of Queen Mary Falls and the spectacular valley floor. Follow the trail down to the bottom – watching out for nonchalant water dragons on the path. The pools at the bottom and the views back up to where you came from are simply stunning.

Author: Alex Mitcheson

Photographer: Rian Cope

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Acknowledgement of Country

Southern Queensland Country Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waterways that run through these regions. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and emerging.