If you ask us, few things are as nourishing for our soul as soaking up the sights from our local lookout. If we close our eyes we can almost envision the breathtaking panoramic vistas stretching from mountain to ocean as gentle breezes caressing our face. If you’re eager to take in some natural splendour this weekend, pack a picnic basket and make for one of the arresting lookout spots a quick drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast.

Mount Coot-Tha Summit

If you’re a Brisbane local, there’s a high chance you’ve already made the pilgrimage to the top of Mount Coot-Tha. Every weekend, folks drive,cycle or hike to the top and spend a good chunk of time taking in the scenery. On a clear day, you’ll get a top-notch glimpse of Brisbane City and beyond to Moreton Bay.
While you’re up there, you’ll be able to nab some refreshments from Kuta Cafe & Gifts or, if you feel like a splurge, Summit Restaurant is perfect for enjoying lunch or dinner with a terrific view. If you’re angling for a picnic spot, you might find free grassy real estate scarce. Thankfully, Mount Coot-Tha boasts a bevy of picnic and barbecue areas nearby. If you’ve seen all you can see from the top, make tracks for Simpsons Falls Picnic Area, the Gap Creek Reserve or JC Slaughter Falls, where you’ll find a stack of amenities to take advantage of.

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk

Ever wished you could walk amongst the treetops, looking down at the world below from the leafy canopy of a forest? Tamborine Rainforest’s Skywalk is for you. Out near Cedar Creek, intrepid sightseers can navigate 300 metres of high-tech steel bridges that weave through the upper canopy before ascending even higher a 40-metre cantilever bridge that sits 30 metres above the ground.
Once you reach the Cedar Creek viewing platform, you’ll be able to catch your breath and soak up the lush greenery. After you’ve seen all there is to see, stop in at the skywalk centre, which boasts a Rainforest Eco Gallery, a cafe, and souvenir shop.

O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk

In the heart of the Lamington National Park there are several walks and lookout points that will truly take your breath away. First is the must- try O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk – a series of suspension bridges that hang 15 metres above the rainforest floor. As you make your way along the 180- metre walk, you’ll be able to get an up-close look at the nearby flora and subtropical wildlife, but if you really want to have a look around, seek out one of the observation decks, which sit at the top of a strangler fig 30 metres about the ground.
This walk is free of charge, and there are no age or height restrictions for visitors. If you have time, you can hike to a few other lookouts nearby. Weave through a few kilometres of subtropical rainforest and you’ll find Morans Falls Lookout (pictured), or embark on a half-day hike and you’ll be able to check out Pat’s Bluff, which boasts views over the Albert and Logan River valleys to the Great Dividing Range beyond.

Governors Chair

Out in the Spicers Gap Road Conservation Park (one-and-a-half hour drive from Brisbane) you’ll find this regal-sounding lookout. Situated at the top of a cliff face, Governors Chair boasts exemplary views out over the Fassifern Valley towards Mount Greville and Lake Moogerah, and was known as a popular resting spot for governors making their way to Spicers Gap.
If you’re an avid camper, the Spicers Gap campground is a great base of operations (it also features toilets and picnic tables), with a pre-dawn hike (aiming to arrive just before sunrise) the best way to experience the splendour of Governors Chair. Nearby, Mount Mitchell offers great hiking trails and smaller lookouts, but those keen to get one more snap for Instagram can head across Cunningham’s Gap to Mount Cordeaux, which boasts a leisurely rainforest walk to a lookout. Here you can get another angle of Lake Moogerah, plus views of Mount Barney to the south and Mistake Mountains to the north.

Falls Drive

Pack the car and head for Main Range National Park near Killarney – that’s there you’ll find a quick procession of stop-worthy lookouts. Stop number one – Daggs Falls. Located east of Killarney, Daggs Falls stems from a creek that descends from the McPherson Range. A roadside viewing platform gives you a great glimpse of the cascading water, but that’s just a taster of what’s to come. Head further along Spring Creek Road and you’ll find Queen Mary Falls (pictured).
Once you’ve arrived at the Queen Mary Falls picnic area, you’ll have to follow the two-kilometre long rainforest trail to the top, which is where you’ll be able to enjoy views of the gorge, where Spring Creek drops 40 metres to the valley floor, where it flows out to the Condamine River beyond. Eight kilometres to the northeast, you’ll come across the Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Cottages, which sits next to Carr’s Lookout. Before you head home, be sure to stop in and get one more glimpse across the Southern Downs – the Condamine River head waters will be visible, flowing out towards the Murray-Darling river system.

Honourable mentions

Of course, there are countless amazing vistas to experience across Southeast Queensland – there are plenty of other worthwhile options that you can add to your weekend itinerary. We also suggest investigating the Mount Mee forest trail and its lookout boasting views of Somerset Dam and Lake Wivenhoe, the Mapleton Falls lookout and its view of the Obi Obi valley, and the Boonoo Bonoo Falls lookout in northern New South Wales.