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Warm balmy days, fairy floss sunsets, and dazzling night skies – your ticket to fresh country air is only a short drive from Brisbane.

Slow down and immerse yourself in the simplicity and peace of the great outdoors – a blissful antidote to the frantic pace of everyday life.

Naturally, the country is less busy than the coast, promising a true break from the crowds and holiday traffic. It’s moments like these that matter when you’re looking for a true escape to the country.

The ideal place for a day trip or week-long stay, Southern Queensland Country offers so many ways to lose yourself in the quiet, simple freedom of the rolling hills.

Let your holiday budget stretch further with the many free and family-friendly activities on offer, which will see you walking waterfalls one day and immersing yourself in pioneering history the next.

Looking for a different kind of summer holiday? Try these five ways to enjoy summer holidays in Southern Queensland Country.

1. Enjoy a short break

Nestled high on the Great Diving Range, Toowoomba blends CBD amenities, activities with laid back country charm.

Find the Garden City, a short 90-minute drive from Brisbane, where you can stay overnight in a cosy cottage or hotel and dine out at night to discover why Toowoomba is one of Queensland’s fastest growing cities.

Don your walking shoes and stroll through Queens Park before ticking off 55 street art murals that rival Melbourne’s laneways. In the evening, hit the town for dinner and a show at the Empire Theatre, a heritage-listed, art deco performance venue.

For a two-night getaway, venture to Goondiwindi (4 hrs from Brisbane, 2 hrs 30 mins from Toowoomba), in Queensland’s south west, for a happy snap with Goondiwindi’s Big Cod and a cotton tour of Goondiwindi Cotton’s working farm.

Here you’ll learn about the history of cotton production in Australia and its evolution from field to fabric. Did you know ‘Alcheringa’, the farm of Goondiwindi Cotton, is part of a sustainability trial looking to determine if shredded cotton products could offer benefits to cotton soil health and offer a scalable solution to textile waste?

Want to explore what’s west of Toowoomba? May we introduce the Western Downs, where you can travel back in time at the Miles Historical Village Museum (3.5 hrs from Brisbane, 2.5 hrs from Toowoomba). Behind its unassuming doors, find more than 30 original buildings from the 19th and 20th Centuries, including a coach house, blacksmith, hospital and bank.

If exploring the region’s south-east pocket, don’t leave without a visit to the Granite Belt Christmas Farm (3 hrs from Brisbane, 2 hrs from Toowoomba). Celebrating Christmas all year round, find real Christmas trees and over 20,000 decorations. The kids can feed Santa’s animals while adults indulge in a picnic hamper and soak up the scent of fresh pine trees.

Laneway art of a deer on a bright blue background.

Toowoomba CBD

2. Experience the best of the country over a weeklong stay

One of the best things about summer in Southern Queensland Country is that you’ll find accommodation readily available. 

See what it’s like to live on a farm without moving to the country at farm stays like Bestbrook Mountain Farmstay (1.5 hrs from Brisbane). Spend your holidays milking the cows, feeding the chickens, making damper and learning to ride a horse. Your camera roll will be flooded with wholesome photos – you’ll struggle to choose which ones to include in your annual photo book.

For family holidays with an emphasis on family connection rather than the digital kind, set up camp in the secluded bushland of Gordon Country (2 hrs from Brisbane, 1 hr 15 mins from Toowoomba), bordering Main Range National Park.

If you like extra amenities, there are also glamping tents, cabins and space for caravans. Thrill seekers can explore the kilometres of 4WD tracks on the property – or for those comfier in a camp chair, sitting back and watching the grazing cattle is equally a wonderful way to pass the time.

Punctuate your days with the serenity of the great outdoors – there are plenty of restful picnic spots across the region including Yelarbon Lagoon Park (3 hrs 40mins from Brisbane, 2 hrs from Toowoomba) and Lake Broadwater (3 hrs from Brisbane, 1.5 hrs from Toowoomba). Get your heart rate up with a hike or mountain bike ride in the Glen Rock State Forest (2 hrs from Brisbane, 1 hr from Toowoomba).

For picnic spots made for swimming, set your sights on one of the great inland lakes. Swim, canoe, jet ski or power boat at Coolmunda Dam (3 hrs from Brisbane, 1 hr 45 mins from Toowoomba) and Leslie Dam (2 hr 15mins from Brisbane, 1 hr 15 mins from Toowoomba).

For those who fancy a bit of freshwater fishing, there’s no shortage of places to drop a line. Catch Australian Bass, Yellowbelly, Saratoga or Murray Cod with the help of Australian Freshwater Fishing Charters (3 hrs from Brisbane, 2 hrs from Toowoomba).

Alternatively, take your own equipment and try your luck at Tara Lagoon (3.5 hrs from Brisbane, 2 hrs from Toowoomba), Lake Cooby (2hrs from Brisbane, 33 mins from Toowoomba), Chinchilla Weir (3.5 hrs from Brisbane, 2 hrs from Toowoomba) or Caliguel Lagoon (4 hrs from Brisbane, 2.5hrs from Toowoomba).

Horses and riders walking along wooded trail.

Bestbrook Mountain Farmstay, Maryvale, Southern Downs & Granite Belt

3. Picnic or sightsee for a delightful day trip

Escape to Queen Mary Falls (2hrs from Brisbane, 1 hr 40 mins from Toowoomba) for a leisurely stroll and picnic lunch. The Falls are part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

View the 40m waterfalls from the lookout, take the short circuit walk to the valley floor and feel the mist from the waterfall cool you down.

Check out (and into) the abundance of accommodation options in Toowoomba and explore the city by night too.

The Cobb+Co Museum, in the heart of Toowoomba, is home to the National Carriage Collection and has a range of interactive displays, exhibits and heritage trade workshops.

Child playing with interactive museum exhibit while parents watch.

Cobb + Co Museum, Toowoomba

4. Update your road-trip playlist and take a country drive

Visit Goondiwindi (4.5 hrs from Brisbane, 2.5 hrs from Toowoomba) and follow the silo art trail through to neighbouring towns Inglewood and Texas, as well as one of Australia’s biggest silo artworks in Yelarbon.

More of a two wheels kind of traveller? Rent a bike or join a guided tour from Bikeline Toowoomba. Or pack your own wheels and check out Crows Nest National Park (2 hrs from Brisbane) which has trails that cater to all experience levels with terrain options to suit.

For adventures on two feet, head to the Bunya Mountains (3 hrs from Brisbane, 1.5hrs from Toowoomba) to walk amongst the world’s largest stand of ancient bunya pines. Towering over lush rainforests, the ascent is steep and winding and well worth the drive to escape city-life. To get you started, here’s everything you need to know about the Bunya Mountains before you go.

Couple of bicycles riding along path under canopy of trees.

Bikeline Tours, Toowoomba

5. Wine and dine your way through the region (be sure to pack your stretchy pants)

Indulge in wine, apple orchards, hand-made jams and preserves, farmhouse cheeses, chocolates and olives in the Southern Downs and Granite Belt region (2 hrs from Brisbane, 1hr 25 mins from Toowoomba). Stock up on your Christmas celebration wine and farm fresh cherries from The Granite Belt wine trail. Your furry friend can accompany you with plenty of dog-friendly cellar doors and accommodation, which will save you kennel fees.

Closer to home, ignite the senses and experience 40 different varieties of edible natives on a tour with Aboriginal owned and operated Native Oz Bushfoods (1.5 hrs from Brisbane, 40 mins from Toowoomba). A 90-minute tour includes a smoking ceremony and Acknowledgement to Country on arrival, educational tour and talk around the gardens and bushfood inspired morning tea.

While you’re exploring the Lockyer Valley (1.5 hrs from Brisbane), DIY your own #Instaworthy grazing platter from a variety of farmers’ markets if you’ve timed the visit for a weekend and honesty boxes on the roadside – open all week round. For the perfect cheese platter, be sure to stop by the Awassi Cheesery in Grantham hills (1.5 hrs from Brisbane, 30 mins from Toowoomba).

For country-fresh air and plenty to do, start booking your summer holiday in Southern Queensland Country.

Guide showing two children how to plant a native plant.

Native Oz Bushfoods, Lockyer Valley

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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.