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One of the best ways for a family to explore a destination they are visiting is by bicycle. Thankfully, Australia is packed full of amazing family bike rides, with each state and territory offering loads of fun two-wheeled adventures. We head to the Sunshine State for this instalment of our Best Family Bike Rides series, to check out some cracking rides in Queensland.

Moreton Bay Cycleway

Distance: 11km  Grade: Easy  Bike: Any

While the city of Brisbane boasts a cycleway along its river, Moreton Bay can be proud of the 11km cycleway that skirts this bay near Redcliffe. Sea breezes, the smell of the ocean, a promise of fish and chips, and the wind in your hair – sounds ideal, right?

Take your time on this journey around Redcliffe Peninsula – there is plenty to see. shutterstock

There’s room to park at Scarborough Beach before pointing south (keep the ocean on your left) and heading towards Ted Smout Memorial Bridge. If you need to earn your fish and chips, keep the legs moving and you’ll have no problems on the uninterrupted route, making for a neat 22km return, but be sure not to miss some of the more scenic places to stop off and enjoy the views, and perhaps a coffee, along the way.

Settlement Cove Lagoon is a place to pause, with amenities if the need arises. Once you’re back in the saddle, keep your eyes peeled for Gayundah Wreck below the cliffs at Woody Point. The shipwreck occurred in the 19th century, and the resting place for this Navy ship is popular with photographers. Crockatt Park is past the wreck, and a worthy bargaining chip for young legs that may be tiring – the park has a long flying fox. Otherwise, Pelican Park is just before Ted Smout Memorial Bridge, and the ride’s turn-around point, and is named appropriately! Time to turn back north and stop wherever the fish and chips smells best!

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Australia’s longest rail trail begins its journey in rural Yarraman and finishes in Wulkuraka, at the suburban edge of Ipswich, less than an hour’s drive from Brisbane’s city centre. 

Traffic-free along its length, the trail descends through the Brisbane Valley as the river flows towards Brisbane, though the views are so faithfully rural that the presence of a city feels like a myth. It is a long ride but one that is broken up by several small towns along the way, making it ideal for the cycle touring family who can choose how long (one day, two or more) they wish to spend exploring this trail.

The small town of Blackbutt is just one of many found along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. Andrew Bain

From Yarraman, the trail sets out through bush and cattle country, beginning its biggest descent (the trail drops approximately 350m between Yarraman and Wulkuraka) in Benarkin. This descent ends 18km later in Linville, a likely stopping point for the first night.

The Brisbane River is first sighted beyond Linville, and not seen again until Lowood, around 85km later, leaving farmland and dry bush to dominate the views throughout. The old railway’s greatest legacy, beside the gentle gradients, is the Yimbun Tunnel, which bores through the hills for 100m just beyond Harlin.

The unsealed trail is lined with old railway trestle bridges that once spanned the many deep gullies that furrow the land, though the ride typically drops into the gullies, creating a series of short, steep descents and climbs that have many cyclists dismounting to push their bikes. The ride is lined with small towns – Blackbutt, Linville, Moore, Harlin, Toogoolawah, Esk, Coominya, Lowood, Fernvale – making it easy to structure days and find food, rest stops, pick-up points and accommodation along the way. The greatest distance between towns is 24km. A private shuttle service, run by Out There Cycling, operates along the length of the trail.

Tewantin Mountain Bike Trails

Distance: 10km +  Grade: Easy to Intermediate  Bike: MTB

Imagine a place you could combine a beach-based holiday with some fantastic easy to intermediate mountain biking. Noosa is known for its beautiful beaches, posh restaurants and for being an uber trendy place to hang out and be seen. But sitting just behind Noosa are some sweet MTB trails you and the family can slip out onto for some fun laps while the others are waking up and getting ready for a yoga class on stand-up paddleboards (yes, it’s a thing). If that isn’t good enough, what about a beautifully bituminised road to casually roll up the hill on – one actually closed to cars! (It’s a car race track, so it’s closed to cars most of the time, at least.) 

Just behind the famous Noosa beaches you will find some amazing bike rides. Travis Deane

Parking at the base, you ride up this gently climbing road with trails branching off various corners – all the trails are numbered, so are very easy to navigate, i.e., climb until you reach Turn 10 where the Quoll trail starts. Bloodwood is a great flowing singletrack trail and Milkmaid is deeper into the network and worth exploring for intermediate riders. 

The whole area is easily accessible for holiday riders and easy to navigate. There are other trails nearby, making the family’s mountain bikes logical things to pack on a Noosa holiday – along with the sunscreen, of course. 

Mackay Bluewater Trail

Distance: 20km    Grade: Easy    Bike: Any

If you set out to create a multi-use trail that epitomised a choose-your-own adventure book and one of the country’s most enjoyable family bike rides – you’d end up with something very much like Mackay’s Bluewater Trail. The trail is a near-perfect loop of the centre of Mackay, connecting parklands, views, art installations and outdoor recreation venues to suit cyclists young and old. The surface is a mix of sealed surfaces and boardwalk, which you’ll share with pedestrians.

a man riding his bike across a bridge
From botanic gardens to a pristine river mouth, this easy ride has it all. Chris McLennan/TEQ

Start the ride at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, which overlook a pretty lagoon, before circling clockwise to the Pioneer River and along the foreshore. Then, continue along the Catherine Freeman Walk towards the mouth of the Pioneer River. 

Kids young and old will want to stop at the Bluewater Lagoon. It’s a three-tiered artificial lagoon that is free to enter. Carrying on after a dip, you will approach the Bluewater Trail public art display, which features six installations. 

From here, ride on the Sandfly Creek Environment Walk, home to a wide variety of migratory birds throughout the year. The final stretch takes you past Iluka Park, a play area with open access for children. You can cruise back past Paradise Street for a coffee or meal, and then you are moments from where you started at the Botanic Gardens.

Caboolture to Wamuran Rail Trail

Distance: 10.5km (one-way)  Grade: Easy  Bike: Any

Rail trails can be anything from transport infrastructure through to adventure travel itineraries, and the short Caboolture to Wamuran Rail Trail is more of the former, while still being a component of the latter for some. The rail trail is concrete from end to end, so you can tackle it on any bike with air in its tyres. This is the first part of the Caboolture to Kilcoy rail line, which previously took timber from the hinterland as well as goods to market.

Fully paved and flat, this rail trail is ideal for a family ride. Andrew Bain

The access is easy from Caboolture station, and there is a small parking lot with information boards, covered seating, a bike pump and water right off Margaret Street in Caboolture. The same facilities are also found at the other end in Wamuran. 

The signage is clear and easy to read, and there is plenty of information about the history of the rail line and its communities. Ride out of Caboolture and you’re soon riding past farmland, with the rise of the D’Aguilar Range and Mount Mee to your left.

There are several options to hop on or hop off the rail trail as you go, with public toilets along the route. While the gradient and surface mean almost anyone can ride it, the route doesn’t offer a lot of shade, and there are road crossings, so be aware of those factors if you’re considering taking younger riders on this route. A couple of the old stations do offer an area to sit and take a look around to enjoy this corner of southeast Queensland on one of the state’s best family bike rides.

For more of Australia’s best family bike rides, click here.