The Gold Coast, in southern Queensland, is just 48 miles (78 km) from Brisbane and very easy to reach from there with an hourlong drive. But, it's also accessible from further afield in Australia. Here's how to get to the Gold Coast from Brisbane, Cairns, and beyond via a number of transport methods.
By Private Car
Duration: 1 hour
The Gold Coast is a quick one-hour drive south-east of Brisbane. Take the M1 out of the city and follow the signs to the Gold Coast. Avoid making the trip during morning or evening rush hours, when the roads around Brisbane will be busiest.
Duration: 1.5 hours
Although you can't get a direct public bus between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, various private operators run shuttle services from Brisbane's airports, hotels, and other central meeting points.
Duration: 1-2.5 hours
A preferable public transport option is to take the train, as tickets are much cheaper than shuttle bus tickets. Trains run from Brisbane's airports and many central-city stations, including Brisbane Central, Roma Street Station, and South Bank. The train stations on the Gold Coast are inland from the center of town, so you'll need to get another a bus, tram, or taxi to your destination.
By Private Tour
If you just want a convenient day trip from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, many tours are available. These suit a range of interests, from family-friendly to nature-themed activities.
From Northern Queensland (Cairns)
Direct flights operate between Cairns, on the northern coast of Queensland, and the Gold Coast. To fly from other smaller places north of the Gold Coast (such as Townsville or Proserpine/Hamilton Island) you'll need to fly to Brisbane (or elsewhere) first.
A mostly coastal road runs the length of Queensland, from Cairns, making driving between northern Queensland towns and the Gold Coast very straightforward (though long!) Road trips around Queensland are a great way to travel, as there are many places of interest throughout the state, mainly along the coast or at national parks not far from the coast.
Long-distance buses run along the Queensland coast, as well as a few routes inland. If coming from the north by bus, you'll likely need to change services in Brisbane and connect to a Sydney-bound bus that will drop you at the Gold Coast.
The scenic Spirit of Queensland train runs between Brisbane and Cairns (and vice versa) several times a week. The Gold Coast is also well connected to Brisbane by train. The full journey between Cairns and Brisbane takes 25 hours, and it's possible to get on or off at various points along the way (most notably at Proserpine, for the Whitsunday Islands). Trains are spacious and comfortable, and have dining carts. Some lie-flat berths are available.
Duration: 90 minutes
Regular flights operate between Sydney and the Gold Coast, and many more flights operate to Brisbane.
By Private Car
Duration: 10 hours
A few different roads would get you from Sydney to the Gold Coast, but the most direct and interesting follows the coast most of the way. Points of interest worth stopping at along the way include the Central Coast of New South Wales, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, and Byron Bay.
Duration: 15-17 hours
It's also possible to make the above road trip by bus. But, this is a long journey and long-distance buses in Australia aren't very cheap, so flying is a better option.
Duration: 15 hours
Although you can't go all the way from Sydney to the Gold Coast on a single train journey, you can get a train from Sydney to the town of Casino, from where buses meet the train to travel the final two-three hours to the Gold Coast. There are both daytime and overnight services. Alternatively, you can take an overnight train from Sydney to Brisbane, and then continue on to the Gold Coast from there.
Australia is a huge country, and by far the easiest way of getting between other Australian cities and the Gold Coast is to fly. Direct flights operate from Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, and Hobart.
If you're planning to drive or take a train or bus to the Gold Coast from other cities, you'll usually need to go via Brisbane or Sydney first.