Known as the “Sunshine State”, Queensland is brimming with unforgettable experiences and is one of the most naturally diverse places on earth. From the gorgeous ancient rainforests and national parks teaming with wildlife, waterfalls and animals, to the spectacular Great Barrier Reef and the deserts and vast rugged mountains of the outback; from the northern tip to the New South Wales and Northern Territory borders, you will find an abundance of exciting sights and experiences.
The capital city of Brisbane has a mixture of lush parks, historic buildings, busy nightlife, popular restaurants, outdoor and water activities, and plenty of natural attractions within easy reach.
Brisbane is Queensland’s capital city and is located along the Brisbane River valley - between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range. It’s a relatively young city, with the first European settlement in Queensland a penal colony at Redcliffe which was founded in 1824. Free settlers were permitted into the area from 1842 and since then the city has increased to have a population of more than 4 million people in the greater Brisbane region. There is plenty of activity and with a fantastic climate all year round, tourists love to visit Brisbane to relax and explore. From Southbank Parklands – where you can enjoy the popular man-made beach, to the bustling Central Business District – perfect for all kinds of shopping experiences. Roma Street Parkland, the City Botanic Gardens, Kangaroo Point cliffs, Moreton Bay, Brisbane Forest Park and Portside Wharf are popular tourist spots, while Mount Coot-tha lookout has the best views of Brisbane and surrounds, as well as being home to a popular state forest and the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
The Gold Coast is just an hour south of Brisbane and lies on the border to New South Wales. It is easily one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations for international and local visitors alike. With its warm weather year round, shopping choices, fantastic surf beaches, the nearby Gold Coast Hinterland and Australia’s most popular theme parks within short driving distance, the Gold Coast offers visitors everything they could want in a holiday. Iconic Surfers Paradise beach is one of the area’s major tourist draw cards, along with Main Beach and Broadbeach; and with Coolangatta and the New South Wales border within minutes, there is no doubt why more than 10 million visitors flock to the Gold Coast every year. Experience it for yourself.
SUNSHINE COAST HINTERLAND
Just north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast hinterland is home to a variety of flora and fauna, from pristine sub tropical rainforests, to the sparkling waterfalls, native plants and abundant wildlife. It is a nature lover’s paradise, with easily accessible walking tracks in the national parks. One of the most popular walks is the 58 kilometre Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, which will take you on a four day journey through warm subtropical rainforest, tall open eucalypt forest and picturesque waterfalls in secluded areas of the Blackall Range. Maleny is an ideal place to visit if you’re interested in shopping for local crafts, or visiting a local cheese farm. You can also visit other historic towns and villages, including Montville, Mapleton, Landsborough, Glasshouse and Kenilworth.
Located in South East Queensland, close to the New South Wales border and the Great Dividing Range, the Granite Belt region is full of natural attractions and striking scenery. The region got its name because granite rock runs through it, formed over 250 million years ago. Activities include hiking through Giraween National Park, following the heritage trail, visiting local wineries and shopping at local markets, as well as stopping into the major town of Stanthorpe, known throughout the world for its fruit and wine production. The area produces around $40 million in apples each year and you will find a Juice Factory, a Brewery and a Cheese Factory all open to the public.
Cairns is the gateway to Queensland’s Tropical North and is teaming with wild native animals such as fresh water crocodiles and cassowaries, tropical humid rainforests, easy to access islands, stylish cafes and award winning restaurants. It is one of the best places to access the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef where you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, sailing and diving. Cairns Esplanade has some great shopping if you’re after souvenirs, and taking a scenic, tranquil train ride through mountains to the rainforest village of Kuranda is one of the most popular tourist activities.
Just 90km south-west of Cairns you will find the beautiful Atherton Tablelands region. The Tablelands are shaped by volcanic activities and you will find a mixture of the lush mountains, green valleys, hiding sparkling lakes, streams and spectacular waterfalls. The rainforests are World Heritage listed and the plateau is part of the Great Dividing Range and has an area around 32,000 square kilometres. Access from Cairns is easy and highlights include Kuranda, Barron River with its spectacular gorge and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary. Atherton itself is part of a thriving agricultural region, while the Crystal Caves are a popular stop with its private mineralogical collection of over 600 specimens. You might also stop in to experience friendly local culture at Mareeba, Yungaburra, Chillagoe, Malanda, Millaa Millaa, Ravenshoe, Innot Hot Springs and Mt Garnet, Herberton and Irvinebank.
THE WHIT SUNDAYS
Around 600km south of Cairns, you will find an archipelago of 74 paradise islands, known as the Whitsundays. The Whitsundays are an ideal destination for cruising, diving and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef; as well as relaxing on the most stunning beaches in Australia. There is an abundance of marine life and colourful reefs, and two of the most popular islands are Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island. Whitehaven, located on Whitehaven Island, is the perfect blend of crystal clear waters and pristine silica sand and stretches for more than 7km. A great way to explore is by scenic helicopter or seaplane excursion or you can take to the waters on a yacht. Hamilton Island is by far one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia and is the largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays where you will find shops and restaurants, as well as the most unspoiled beaches you’ve ever seen.
Just north of Cairns is Port Douglas - the only place on earth where you will find TWO World Heritage listed treasures – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, both popular with tourists and locals alike. Daintree National Park stretches from Mossman Gorge to Bloomfield River and is home to the elusive and endangered Cassowary. Keep an eye out for these birds, as well as a range of other tropical birds, mammals, reptiles (especially the Estuarine Crocodile) and butterflies and insects. The best way to see the Daintree is by tour or taking a drive through yourself, visiting lookouts along the way to view the magnificent Daintree River, enjoying a river cruise (keeping an eye out for crocodiles) and staying at a comfortable retreat, resort or lodge.
CAPE YORK PENINSULA
Cape York has long been the destination of dreams for many travelers. It is relatively undeveloped and the majority of the population lives in a few scattered townships. Around 60% of these are Aboriginal or Torres Straits Islander. You can do the drive to Cape York yourself in 4WD (wet season is December to April and best to avoid), or find a tour to take you by plane, boat or road. The settlement of Laura is home to some of the world’s largest prehistoric rock paintings and it is one of the most important areas for archaeological study in Australia, with evidence of Aboriginal settlement said to be the oldest found in the country. At the very northern tip of the cape are Seisia, with its population of only 100 and reputation as one of the best fishing regions in Australia; and Bamaga, where you will find the luxuries of a general store, post office, bakery, service station and pub. From Bamaga, the most northern tip of Australia is just 32 kilometres away, with the final leg being a walk up the headland, where you look out across the Torres Strait.
Longreach is located in central west Queensland and lies on the Tropic of Capricorn, some 1100 kilometres from Brisbane and 700 kilometres directly west from Rockhampton on the coast. It is the largest town in Queensland’s central west and has a fascinating history, centred around and prior to its settlement in 1870. The land was originally inhabited by the Iningai, Malintji and Kunngkari Aboriginal tribes, with the first European settlers, William Landsborough and Nat Buchanan arriving in 1860. Longreach is home to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre which showcases the history and the culture of life in rural Australia. The Qantas Founders Outback Museum was the hangar where Australia’s first six aircraft were built for Qantas, and the town’s best kept secrets are the Longreach Powerhouse Museum and the swimming baths dating back to 1921. While you’re in town, you won’t want to miss is a ride on a Cobb and Co coach, and a visit to the Thomson River is a definite must.