10 of the best sunrise and sunset spots in Brisbane
Fact: Brisbane is pretty good looking at any given time.
But, the city really comes to life with ‘golden hour’—the magical light at the start and end of each day that covers our capital city in cotton candy tones and good vibes.
From the city skyline to the lush lakes and mountains, and from the winding river to the sandy islands, Brisbane is home to loads of epic sunrise and sunset spots—and we’ve got them all listed right here.
So, have an early night, set the alarm bright and early and get shooting at one of these sweet spots soon! Or, pro tip: sleep in and catch the sunset instead 😴.
1. Redcliffe and Woody Point
Perfect for: Perspective along the jetty at sunrise and sunset.
Location: Woody Point Jetty has the best of both worlds. You get a sweet view over the Moreton Bay region to the west, which is pretty rare on the eastern side of Australia. For a different point of focus, check out the wreck.
Tips: Use the jetty lines to get a perspective shot and keep an eye out for people fishing. The warm hues of the wreck create super hot contrast with the cool ocean and sand.
2. Nudgee Beach
Perfect for: Epic reflections. Set your alarm! Nudgee Beach is a great sunrise spot.
Location: Nudgee Beach, Nudgee Road, Nudgee. From the car park, head along the boardwalk for the beach or bird hide.
Tips: Use the mangrove trees popping up as a point of interest in the wriggly sand at low tide, or use your fellow early-bird photographers to capture some reflections or perspective in the landscape shot. Nudgee Beach is also an awesome place to take your dogs so keep an eye out for furry four-legged types after sunrise.
3. Kangaroo Point
Perfect for: Sunsets, cityscapes and picnics.
Location: Kangaroo Point has loads of great vantage points of the river city, perfect for sunset. From the Kangaroo Point Cafe or Rotunda meeting points, wander towards the city at the top of the cliffs or head down the stairs for rocks, river action and rock climbers as the sun sets.
Tips: Get set pre-sunset so you can fit in a few different spots as the sun goes down. Use the bougainvillea at the top of the rocks to help frame your shot. There will be plenty of opportunities for steel wool spinning closer to the river, so take the stairs down after dark. Use a slow shutter speed to capture the glow of the CityCats as they glide across the Brisbane River from dusk and into the evening.
4. Wilson’s Outlook
Perfect for: Sunsets and cityscapes across the Brisbane River.
Location: Wilson’s Lookout Reserve, Bowen Terrace (near the corner of Bowen Street), New Farm.
5. Mount Coot-tha
Perfect for: Sunrise city views from above, dreamy cloud-filled panoramas and silhouettes.
Location: Head to the Mount Coot-tha lookout on the top of the mountain for a fabulous view of the city and surrounds. There aren’t many spots in Brisbane where you can get this elevated view without a helicopter!
Tips: The best light and colours come before the sun actually pops up so it’s important you’re in your sunrise spot at least 20 to 30 minutes before the sun rises. If you want to get some adrenaline pumping before you get your camera out, why not walk or cycle up Mount Coot-tha?
6. The Redlands: Bayside
Perfect for: Sunrise and sunset across the bay (followed by some fresh fish and chips).
- Manly and Wynnum: Manly Boat Harbour along Royal Esplanade is a great spot. Also, try the Manly Jetty or waterfront between Wynnum and Manly (especially at low tide).
- Wellington Point: Wellington Point Esplanade (check out Wellington Point Jetty).
- Cleveland: Head to the Lighthouse and the Old Jetty on Shore Street. This is one of the best sunset spots in Brisbane!
- Victoria Point: Head to either Wilson’s Esplanade or Thompson’s Beach, Victoria Point.
Tips: These bayside locations are full of boats in the marina and just resting along the esplanades. When the water is super calm, shoot the reflections that are everywhere. Keep an eye out for kite surfers and canoe or kayak crews. The jetties are great for strong lines and perspective, while the solo mangroves add a bit of interest at low tide, too. While you’re out this way, try one of the many fish and chip takeaways and get stuck in!
7. Moreton Island
Perfect for: Sunrise and sunset spots a-plenty around Moreton Island!
Location: For the best sunrises, head to Cape Moreton or anywhere along the eastern beach. The Moreton Island lighthouse is a popular spot. Later in the day, head to the western beaches for some epic sunsets. Try silhouettes of the Wrecks just north of Tangalooma or Bulwer Wrecks. If you want to see the Glass House Mountains, head to Comboyuru Point or the northern end of Moreton Island. Get a sweat up as you climb Big Sandhills in the south for another aspect.
Tips: Use the lines of the sand at low tide, reflections on the lakes, lagoons and ocean and silhouettes of people and the beach highway crew (4WDs, baby!).
8. North Stradbroke Island
Perfect for: Straddie is an all-rounder with super hot sunrises on the eastern side and chilled out, colourful sunsets on the western beaches.
Tips: The jetty is a great spot to get a little perspective. Keep an eye out for beachgoers and fishing crews for some hot silhouettes at both ends of the day.
9. Tamborine Mountain
Perfect for: Sunrises, sunsets and stars across the valley below Tamborine Mountain.
Tips: Keep an eye out for hang gliders and hot air balloons at sunrise, or sunset silhouettes and moon rise and star trails after dark. If you are headed further south we have wrapped a list of the best sunrise and sunset spots on the Gold Coast too.
10. Lake Moogerah
Perfect for: Sunsets and night prettiness across Lake Moogerah.
Location: Haigh Park, Lake Moogerah, Scenic Rim.
Tips: Get ready to shoot 30 minutes before sunset, but stick around a little longer for star trails, light painting and steel wool spinning. It’s a wicked spot!
Essential Sunrise and Sunset Photography Equipment
- DSLR camera and/or smartphone
- Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats
- Food for sunrise: fruit, yoghurt, muesli bars and coffee or tea
- Food for sunset: cheese, snacks and maybe a little wine
- For water locations: Thongs or reef shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting wet (or spare clothes)
- Hoodie and waterproof jacket… just in case
Sunrise and Sunset Photography Tips from Local Instagrammers
- @laurenepbath says: “To achieve a quality landscape image when there isn’t much light, such as just after sunset, invest in a tripod for your camera. A tripod will stabilise your shot during a longer exposure time. I recommend trying a semi-manual mode like aperture priority and using f11 and ISO 100. Once you’re more confident you can switch it up to manual mode and fine tune your exposure there. I always use a single focus point and focus around one-third of the way into my landscape for optimal depth of field.”
- @rikerama says: “The best light and colours always occur before sunrise and after sunset so get up a little earlier or hang around a little longer.”
- @imlee_ says: “Leave the highway and explore the side roads. That’s where the beauty is!”
- @kristinrepsher says: “Make sure you scout your location beforehand. Planning is everything!”
- @camthaman says: “Try to take more than one shot of the same angle and shoot a batch of three bracketed exposures. As an example, do one shot at 0, one shot at -2 and another at +2 EV. Then when you process your images, try to merge the three shots together to get the most dynamic shot possible.”
- @jasoncharleshill (star trail guru) says: “Come for sunset but stay for the night sky. Put your camera into manual mode, fine-tune your settings and watch the moonlight up your subject.”
So what time is sunrise and sunset anyway?
Here are a few apps to help you to work out what time you need to set the alarm:
- iPhone: Rise – The Sunrise Sunset Calendar | Sunset and Sunrise
- Android: Sunrise Sunset | AccuWeather
Tag your sunset pictures with #ThisIsQueensland so we can follow along on your adventures.
This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated on 16 January 2019.