region of the Australian state of Queensland
Oceania > Australia > Queensland > South East Queensland

South East Queensland (SEQ), the most populous region taking up most of the southeast in Queensland, includes the city of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane's north, and the Gold Coast to its south.

Regions

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South East Queensland regions - Color-coded map
  Greater Brisbane
With over 2 million inhabitants, half of all Queenslanders call the Greater Brisbane region home. Home of the bustling capital of Brisbane and home to large green spaces contained within urban city streets.
  Gold Coast
The largest "holiday city" and the sixth largest city in Australia, the Gold Coast is a popular beachside destination with plenty of theme parks, water parks, beaches, and waterways. Interestingly, the Gold Coast has more canals than Venice.
  Sunshine Coast
Queensland's third largest settlement home to kilometres of surfing beaches and home to the region's iconic Glass House Mountains. It is the second largest "holiday city" in Queensland, after the Gold Coast and a budget alternative to GC, popular with families.
  Gympie
The northernmost point of the south-east, the Gympie region is an agricultural centre known for all the Australian subtropical fruits that you can possibly think of.
  Noosa
A more expensive and northerly location at the beach, and the sole one thing that many do in Noosa is visit its beaches.
  Scenic Rim
A very scenic region, nestled between the Gold Coast Hinterland and the Darling Downs offering landscapes that are a mix of the two. With several world-heritage national parks and scenic rainforests, it's no surprise why the region got its name.

Cities

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  • 1 Brisbane - largest city and state capital
  • 2 Gold Coast - Australia's main party destination by the beach
  • 3 Sunshine Coast - a budget northerly alternative to the Gold Coast
  • 4 Ipswich - historical industrial city of Greater Brisbane
  • 5 Logan City
  • 6 Redland City - perhaps Greater Brisbane's most forgotten city
  • 7 Moreton Bay
  • 8 Gympie
  • 9 Noosa – the splurge Sunshine Coast

Other destinations

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The Glass House Mountains

Understand

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South East Queensland is the most populous and fastest growing region in Queensland.

 
Brisbane City

Brisbane is Australia's third largest city and capital of Queensland.

 
Summer in the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast (including Surfers Paradise) to the south of Brisbane is possibly Australia's main party destination by the beach.

Renowned for its relaxed approach to Queensland life, the Sunshine Coast is famous for its uncrowded white sand beaches and green scenery to the north of Brisbane. Stretching for nearly 70 kilometres, the Sunshine Coast falls within the Sunshine Coast Council's jurisdiction and provides for a great (and popular) escape from Brisbane, or the Gold Coast. A holiday mecca even for South East Queensland locals, the Sunshine Coast is a great place to relax, unwind and taste the amazing local produce.

The Scenic Rim region is a thriving rural paradise with breathtaking scenery set in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and surrounded by world heritage listed national parks. Home to a population of more than 34,000, the region covers 4,250 km2 (1,640 sq mi) and is located an hour south of Brisbane and an hour inland from the Gold Coast. From its myriad of wineries and art galleries to expansive bushwalking tracks, state of the art equine facilities, growing rural communities and friendly country charm. Many forest areas were previously logged, but the forest recovery has been excellent, and virtually all the logging tracks have disappeared except for those still used for foot access.

History

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South East Queensland was home to 20,000 Aboriginal people prior to British occupation. Local tribes in the area included the Yuggurapal, Yuggumbeh, Quandamooka and the Gubbi Gubbi.

The Glass House Mountains of the region were sighted by Captain James Cook from the deck of the HM Endeavour in 1770. Other European explorers in the region included Matthew Flinders, John Oxley, Allen Cunningham, William Landsborough, Ludwig Leichhardt and Patrick Logan. In the 19th century, Europeans were able to settle in the region.

Many of the Sunshine Coast's towns began as simple ports and jetties for timber industry during the 1860s and 1870s, as the area once had magnificent stands of forest. Likewise, the region's road were used for hauling timber. Timbergetters used the region's creeks, rivers and lakes as seaways to float out their logs of cedar - the resultant wood being shipped far afield as Europe.

Get in

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By car

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Brisbane is an 8-hour car journey from Sydney.

By plane

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The region is very well served by three airports. Brisbane is the international hub, however both Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast airports have good connections throughout Australia.

Brisbane Airport

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See the Brisbane guide for Brisbane airport. An important international airport with many international connections. Trains directly from the airport will connect you with the city and the rest of the region. Buses and shuttle transfers to both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are available.

Gold Coast Airport

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Gold Coast Airport (OOL IATA) is widely known as Coolangatta Airport. Because it straddles the NSW and Queensland borders, you land in one state and arrive in another. It is a fairly small terminal but handles around 3.5 million passengers per year with frequent connections from major Australian cities and some international flights from New Zealand and Asia.

Sunshine Coast Airport

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By train

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Brisbane has a direct train connection from Sydney which lasts 15 hours. A few hours slower than by car but a lot less stressful. For the more adventurous a connection from Melbourne via Sydney would take about 25 hours in total. Check plane ticket prices since a flight to one of the main three airports in this area may be cheaper than the train fare.

TransLink coordinates rail services in SEQ, including suburban services in Brisbane and interurban services on the North Coast rail line from Brisbane to Gympie North and the intermediate destinations Landsborough and Nambour, with connecting buses to Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Noosa, From Brisbane to the Gold Coast and intermediate destinations of Logan and Beenleigh and from Brisbane west to Ipswich and Rosewood.

Get around

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By public transport

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Brisbane is well served by public transport with a large network of trains, buses and ferries

South East Queensland's public transport network is run by a single provider known as Translink. The official website and app can be used to plan journeys. Google Maps also offers full navigation with real time information.

The region is divided into 8 concentric "zones" for fare purposes. Your fare is determined by how many zones you travel through. For example, travelling between zones 2 and 3 will cost you the same as travelling between zones 7 and 8. Network maps clearly mark the zones and zone boundaries. Major destinations like shopping centres are often used as zone boundaries. A station or stop within a zone boundary is considered part of either zone.

Fare payments can be made with a contactless credit or debit card (buses not available until 2025). Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted. Some prepaid cards may also work.

The fare is deducted as you touch on and touch off each mode of transport. You must touch both on and off for all journeys regardless of the mode of transport. A failure to touch off will result in a fixed fare of up to $30 being charged. Train stations and tram stops have fare gates or distinctive pink validators located on the platform. Buses and ferries are fitted with validators as you board and alight.

Translink uses the word "journey" to mean end-to-end journey including any required transfers, and the word "trip" to mean a single point-to-point trip. A journey can be made up of one or more trips on any mode of transport. When making a number of trips to get to your destination it is still one journey if you touch on within 60 minutes of touching off on your previous trip.

Alternatively, fare payments can be made with a go card. The card costs $10 (refundable deposit) plus the travel credit you wish to top up (maximum $250). The card is available at train station ticket counters, busway fare machines, and selected newsagents and convenience stores. The card can be topped up at the same locations, including train station fare machines. Applying for a refund of the deposit and any unused travel credit can be a hassle. If you have paid by cash it can be processed directly at a train station, including the airport train station. If you have paid by credit card it can only be processed by cheque or transfer to an Australian bank account.

Paper tickets are only available at train station ticket counters, train station fare machines and busway fare machines. Paper tickets are only valid for one way journeys and cost 30% more than a card. Buses are prepaid only so you will need to purchase a paper ticket beforehand or use a card instead.

If you are going to be travelling extensively and using the Airtrain, you can buy a 3-day or 5-day unlimited travel SEEQ Card for $79 and $129 respectively. SEEQ cards work like regular go cards and provide additional discounts at various tourist attractions around South East Queensland. You don't have to worry about topping up and refunds, but you'll struggle to get value out of it unless you are catching the Airtrain.

You can be fined $261 for travelling without a valid fare.

  • Aussie World, Palmview. Off the Bruce Highway. A family theme park that has a collection of over 30 rides and attractions.
  • Australia Zoo, Beerwah. Owned and run by the family of the late Steve Irwin, is a popular tourist drawcard in Beerwah. The site tends to be frequented more by overseas visitors.
  • Blackall Range. An 846 ft mountain range with national parks, subtropical rainforests and waterfalls. It dominates the hinterland area of the Sunshine Coast region.
  • Glass House Mountains National Park. And Beerburrum and Beerwah State Forests and Forest Reserves.
  • Imbil State Forest. Rainforest and eucalypt forest. Camping in various areas. Tel: 13 13 04 for permits and information.
  • Kondalilla National Park, +61 7-5494-3983. On Western Avenue about 4 km north of the centre of Montville. 327 hectares of lush subtropical rainforest and tall open forest plus Kondalilla Falls dropping 90 metres from Skene Creek into water pools below. Parking area, picnic facilities, barbecues, shelter sheds, toilets, a lookout and three walking trails. No fresh water available. Can become quite crowded during peak holiday periods.
  • Noosa Biosphere Reserve. A UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve, which makes it a favourite holiday haven for its pristine natural environment and relaxed lifestyle.
  • Picturesque hinterland towns are spread across the region.

The obvious thing to do is visit the beach and enjoy the sun. There are however a great deal of things to try out:

Brisbane & Moreton Bay

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  • Climb the Story Bridge in Brisbane. Although not quite as spectacular as Sydney's Harbour Bridge climb, this is still a great way to experience the city.

Surfers Paradise

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  • Long walks are possible between various beaches around the various headlands (i.e., along the rocks) if the tide is low enough. Also at low tides, lots of interesting rock pools can be uncovered (but watch for unexpected waves if approaching near the edge).
  • Dive the wreck of HMAS Brisbane with Sunreef Scuba Diving
  • Go Tandem SkyDiving with Sunshine Coast Skydivers
  • The adventurous may wish to climb one of the Glasshouse Mountains
  • Surf, or learn to surf, at Noosa
  • Take a train ride on the Mary Valley Rattler at Gympie

A good amount of Australia's produce is grown in the inland areas.

High-end dining experiences are to be had in Brisbane.

Drink

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The beach towns in the region are known for hard partying and drinking.

Although not as well known as the vineyards of the other states, this part of Queensland does boast a growing wine industry.

Stay safe

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  • When swimming at surf beaches, swim on beaches patrolled by surf lifesavers and between the red and yellow flags. Surf conditions can change quickly, and invisible rips can cause problems for even the strongest swimmers. The flags denote the safest area to swim in and the area is monitored.
  • Drinking alcohol and swimming is an obvious risk anywhere. The proximity of the beach to the party life in many of the towns in this area means this point is worth reinforcing.
  • If you see signs warning swimmers that "stingers" (poisonous animals) are in the water, read them carefully as some are deadly. Find a pool or use one of the net protected beach enclosures common on many main beaches.
  • Shark attacks are rare but possible. Always swim on a patrolled beach.
  • Unlike further north in the state, Crocodiles are not a threat in this region.

Go next

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This region travel guide to South East Queensland is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.