Queensland, “Florida,” is Australia’s hottest vacation destination. Golden beaches, idyllic tropical islands, fantastic surf breaks, World Heritage-listed rainforests, rivers, reefs, and waterfalls are just a few of the state’s natural jewels. and every one of those sun-soaked settings offers exhilarating outdoor adventures. The dazzling Whitsunday Islands and therefore the Great coral reef offers superb diving and snorkeling. Fraser Island may be a favorite four-wheel-driving adventure, and therefore the wilderness areas along the Queensland coast are excellent for hiking, biking, boating, and fishing.
For a change of pace, Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, delivers big-city attractions with a small-town feel. South of Brisbane lies the glitzy Gold Coast with its hedonism and high rises. Traveling north along the coast from the capital, you’ll explore a string of holiday resorts, from sleepy beach towns and rainforest villages to picturesque Port Douglas, and therefore the tropical tourist magnet of Cairns. Find the simplest places to go to during this sunny state with our list of top attractions in Queensland.
1. Great coral reef
It’s difficult to overstate the sweetness and ecological importance of this World Heritage-listed natural wonder. this is often the planet’s largest living structure, and it’s so vast, you’ll see it from space. Much of the reef lies within the good coral reef Marine Park, which extends off the northern coast of Queensland, from Mackay to the northeastern corner of Australia. The park itself is about half the dimensions of Texas and protects quite 3,000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and a patchwork of mangrove islands.
The reef’s astounding diversity of marine life lures divers and snorkelers from around the world. quite 1,600 species of tropical fish inhabit the reef, also as sharks, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, giant clams, and kaleidoscopic soft and hard corals. Underwater viewing stations and glass bottom boats also offer a window into this underwater wonderland.
On the mainland, Cairns, Port Douglas, and Airlie Beach are the most launching points for tours. Alternatively, you’ll occupy one of the resort islands within the marine park. The Whitsunday Islands offer many popular attractions and accommodation options and make an excellent base to explore the reef. Remote Lizard Island, the park’s most northerly island, is legendary for its exclusive resort, and woman Elliot Island, the reef’s southernmost coral cay, is home to a well-liked eco-resort.
Accommodation: Where to remain near the good coral reef
In a superb location, between the good coral reef and therefore the dark hills of the Atherton Tableland, Cairns is one among the foremost popular tourist towns in Far North Queensland and makes an excellent base to explore the simplest of Queensland. It’s a friendly, laid-back town, with palm-fringed streets, large parks, and colorful gardens. Beautiful beaches radiate out along the coast from Trinity Bay and Palm Cove to Port Douglas, and therefore the five-kilometer-long Cairns Esplanade runs along the bay, with a saltwater swimming lagoon and free water-themed playground for young children.
Cairns is a superb base for day trips. It’s one among the foremost popular launching points for excursions to the good coral reef, also as tropical islands like Green Island and Fitzroy Island. The Atherton Tableland to the southwest is another popular excursion destination, where you’ll explore rainforest reserves, waterfalls, and therefore the charming attractions within the mountain village of Kuranda. The Kuranda railway or the Skyrail cableway offers spectacular views over the encompassing countryside and therefore the World Heritage-listed rainforests of Barron Gorge park.
Other top things to try to do in Cairns include visiting the Flecker Botanic Gardens, with quite 100 species of palms, and learning about the region’s history at Cairns Museum.
Accommodation: Where to remain in Cairns
3. Take a Safari through Daintree park and Cape Tribulation
A Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Daintree park is that the planet’s oldest surviving rainforest and harbors one among the world’s highest concentrations of threatened and species. Located in Far North Queensland, the 2 main sections of the park include the crystal-clear waters and plush forests of Mossman Gorge, also as Cape Tribulation, where tropical rainforest fringes the reef-splotched shores of the Coral Sea. quite 18,000 plant species, also as a desirable array of wildlife, live within the park, including the flightless southern cassowaries (ostrich-sized birds); crocodiles; Boyd’s rainforest dragons; brightly hued azure kingfishers; spotted cuscuses; and musky rat-kangaroos.
The best thanks to exploring this area is on a guided safari. Many companies offer tours on amphibious vehicles and include rain forest hikes and tropical fruit tastings. However, you’ll also take a self-drive tour. Other popular things to try to do include ziplining through the rainforest, horseback riding, swimming at Mossman Gorge, trying to find cassowaries along the Jindalba Boardwalk, and hiking the various other rain forest trails.
Just south of the park, the resort town of Port Douglas may be a popular base for arranging rainforest wilderness safaris. This area is one among the simplest places to go to in Queensland in winter, during the season.
Accommodation: Where to remain in Port Douglas
4. Go Four-Wheel-Driving on Fraser Island
Between Bundaberg and Brisbane, World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is that the largest sand island in the world. Four-wheel drive adventures here explore wide windswept beaches, crystal-clear lakes and streams, dingoes, dense forests, sacred aboriginal sites, and multi-hued rock formations. Seventy-Five Mile Beach is that the island’s main thoroughfare and provides access to attractions like the rusted hull of the Maheno shipwreck, the bubbling rock pools of Champagne Pools, Eli Creek, and therefore the colored sandstone cliffs of The Pinnacles. Tiger sharks, dolphins, and whales swim within the wind-whipped waters, and therefore the island’s fauna includes Australia’s purest strain of dingo and quite 300 species of birds.
Top things to try to do inland include swimming within the aquamarine Lake McKenzie; exploring the rainforest trails of Central Station; and visiting Lake Wabby, backed by a towering dune.
The most popular access point for tours to Fraser Island in Hervey Bay, where car and passenger ferries, also as organized 4WD Fraser Island Tours, depart daily. Hervey Bay is additionally one of Australia’s best fishing destinations, and it’s an incredible place for whale watching cruises during the winter months when humpback whales come here to offer birth and nurse their young.
Accommodation: Where to remain on Fraser Island
5. Whitsunday Islands
Off the coast of central Queensland, the Whitsunday group encompasses 74 stunning islands strung along the good coral reef. The Whitsundays are continental islands, the summits of a coastal range emerging from the ocean. about five of them are declared national parks, and about eight are home to popular resorts.
The most famous resorts include luxurious Hayman Island; tiny Daydream Resort & Spa; Palm Bay Resort on beautiful Long Island, with access to 13 kilometers of walking tracks; and well-developed Hamilton, the most important of the island resorts. In 2019, both Daydream Resort and Hayman Island will re-open after massive renovations following Cyclone Debbie in 2017.
On uninhabited Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven Beach, with its powdery white sands and turquoise water, is one of the foremost beautiful beaches in Australia. Airlie Beach and Shute Harbor are the most launching points for island excursions.
6. Editor’s PickPort Douglas
Dotted with palms and mango trees, the once-sleepy village of Port Douglas is now an enthralling resort and a well-liked base for wilderness safaris and reef trips. This picturesque town lies about an hour’s drive north of Cairns, along a scenic coastal road, which winds between beaches and rainforest-cloaked hills. It’s the closest mainland town to the good coral reef.
Skirting the gorgeous blond sweep of 4 Mile Beach, Port Douglas features a relaxed tropical vibe, with cute cafes, shops, and art galleries. From the Flagstaff Hill Lookout enjoy breathtaking views of the palm-fringed beach merging with the turquoise Coral Sea.
Top tourist attractions include the Wildlife Habitat and therefore the Bally Hooley Sugar Train, an old external-combustion engine chugging through the cane fields to the sugar mill at Mossman. Other adventures on offer include safaris in all-terrain vehicles to Daintree Park and Cape Tribulation, fishing trips, northbound expeditions through the rugged landscape of the Cape York Peninsula, and boat trips to Cooktown and therefore the Great coral reef.
Accommodation: Where to remain in Port Douglas
A trip to Kuranda, an enthralling rainforest village on the Atherton Tableland, is the maximum amount about the journey because of the destination. From just outside of Cairns, you’ll take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and fly over World Heritage-listed rainforests and therefore the beautiful Barron River and Gorge. Alternatively, the Kuranda Scenic -Railway chugs through the rainforest past rugged peaks and waterfalls. The journey ends within the little station at Kuranda, about 25 kilometers northwest of Cairns, which is nearly hidden by tropical plants and palms.
Kuranda’s main attractions are its artsy shops and colorful market selling souvenirs and native crafts, also as several nature parks and animal sanctuaries, including the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Birdworld, Kuranda Koala Gardens, and Rainforestation Nature Park.
Walks are often arranged for the asking from Kuranda to the wildly romantic Barron Gorge park. At Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park by the Caravonic Lakes, you’ll study Aboriginal culture and luxuriate infrequent native dance performances. Travelers wishing to require the scenic self-drive route to Kuranda also will enjoy the journey.
8. Noosa Heads and therefore the Sunshine Coast
Stretching from Caloundra to Noosa Heads, the Sunshine Coast is one of the foremost popular places to go to on vacation in Southeast Queensland. It’s also a well-liked holiday spot for Aussies, only about two hours north of the glittery Gold Coast but seemingly a world away. The scenery here ranges from peaceful, cliff-fringed bays and quiet coastal rivers to beautiful bushland laced with hiking trails.
Noosa Heads is one of the foremost popular resort areas, with many attractions for the entire family. confirm you save time to bask on Main Beach and hike the paths of Noosa park, where sleepy koalas slouch within the eucalyptus trees. Surfing is additionally one among the foremost popular things to try to do in Southeast Queensland, and most of the Sunshine Coast beach towns have their own excellent surf breaks.
A short drive from Noosa, you’ll patronize the favored Saturday Eumundi Markets, and south of Noosa lie the smaller beach resorts of Coolum Beach, Peregian Beach, and Sunshine Beach, all with fantastic swimming and surfing. within the hinterland, you’ll explore Glass House Mountains park, a cluster of volcanic plugs rising out of the land, also because of the charming mountain villages of Montville and Maleny. Maroochydore is that the region’s bustling commercial center and therefore the location of the Sunshine Coast airport.
Accommodation: Where to remain along the Sunshine Coast
9. The Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s best-known holiday regions. During the previous couple of decades, a building boom transformed the coast into a sort of tropical Las Vegas, with skyscrapers and shopping malls stretching from Southport within the north to Coolangatta within the south. full of attractions and high-rise hotels, Surfers Paradise — “Surfers” for brief — may be a tourist magnet, legendary for its alliterative assets: sun, surf, and sand. But it’s easy to flee the crowds within the surrounding wilderness areas or on the outlying beaches.
Despite Surfers Paradise’s reputation for hedonism, you’ll find many Queensland attractions for families within the region. South of Surfers Paradise, kids love Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, and Movie World, where old film sets are recreated by Warner Bros. To the north, in Southport, you’ll see your favorite marine creatures stumped World. Not surprisingly, swimming, sunbathing, and surfing are popular things to try to do on Queensland’s Gold Coast, and nature lovers will find many attractions to explore.
Excellent networks of roads cause scenic lookouts within the hinterland, where many wilderness areas are within easy reach, including popular Lamington park. to go to the Gold Coast, you’ll fly into Coolangatta airport, near the Queensland-New South Wales border.
Accommodation: Where to remain along the Gold Coast
10. Lamington park
Heritage Area and one among the state’s hottest national parks. Located on the Lamington Plateau of the McPherson Range, amid the remnants of an ancient volcano, the park contains spectacular scenery, with steep gorges, quite 500 waterfalls, tropical and subtropical rainforests, and beech forests within the higher elevations.
Nature buffs are going to be in heaven here. quite 190 species of birds sleep in the park, including bowerbirds and colorful flocks of parrots. Red-necked pademelons, a little kangaroo-like marsupial, frolic at the rainforest fringes, and therefore the shy platypus swims within the park’s river rock pools. Lamington Park is additionally a haven for hikers with quite 150 kilometers of walking trails.
11. Townsville and Magnetic Island
Townsville, the most important tropical town in Australia, is a superb base for excursions and tours, particularly to beautiful Magnetic Island and therefore the Great coral reef. The town lies on Cleveland Bay at the foot of chateau Hill, a 300-meter-high granite crag. Walking tracks cause its peak with panoramic views over the town and sea. But perhaps the simplest place to start out exploring the town is that the Strand. Strolling along this scenic waterfront promenade, you’ll take a dip at one among the swimming areas, take in a number of the region’s history at Jezzine Barracks, enjoy a picnic during a park, or dine at a close-by cafe.
Apart from the picturesque waterfront, Townsville owes much of its charm to its many parks and personal gardens crammed with luxuriant tropical flowers. While you’re here, make certain to require a stroll through the Queen’s Gardens, Townsville’s oldest arboretum, and Townsville Palmetum, with the world’s largest collection of palms. Families will find many kid-friendly attractions. Pack a picnic and head to Riverway, with its pretty riverfront parkland, walking and biking trails, art exhibits, and free swimming pools, and if you’re curious about the local aquatic life, Reef HQ Great reef Aquarium features an underwater tunnel where you’ll view the coral reef and marine life up close. Other popular things to try to do include visiting the Museum of Tropical Queensland and diving into the SS Yongala wreck.
Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city and therefore the capital of Queensland, offers a more relaxed pace than the larger capitals within the country’s southeast and makes an excellent base to explore Queensland. the town straddles the Brisbane River and is bounded on the east by the ocean and on the west by the good Dividing Range. Visitors love the city’s sunny climate and its luxuriant parks and gardens. Top things to try to do in Brisbane include strolling around the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha, with quite 2,000 species of plants, and visiting Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, one among the few places where you’ll touch and feed koalas.
Family-friendly South Bank Parklands features riverside walking and biking trails, lush gardens, shops, and restaurants. River cruises also are popular. one of Brisbane’s best-known tourist attractions is that the Kookaburra Queen, an old paddle-wheeler, which cruises down the Brisbane River, and therefore the River Life Adventure Centre offers adrenalin-fueled water sports on the river. Other things to ascertain and do include shopping at the Queen Street Mall, climbing the Story Bridge, exploring the exhibits at the kid-friendly Queensland Museum, browsing the Gallery of recent Art, and enjoying beautiful city views from Mt Coot-tha Lookout.
Brisbane is additionally an excellent springboard for a variety of rewarding day trips that showcase the simplest of Queensland, from island getaways to wildlife-rich national parks, the famous Australia Zoo, and family-friendly theme parks.
13. Australia Zoo
Made famous by the late Steve Irwin, the charismatic croc-loving Aussie conservationist, Australia Zoo is one of Queensland’s best-loved family attractions. a simple excursion from Brisbane, the zoo features a strong specializes in education and conservation. also as Aussie favorites like kangaroos, koalas, emus, dingoes, and, yes, crocs, you’ll also see exotic animal species, including Sumatran tigers, rhinos, meerkats, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, and elephants.
Crocoseum performances are excellent thanks to learning more about a number of the fascinating creatures that decision the zoo home, including birds of prey, snakes, and therefore the venue’s namesake crocodiles. you’ll also ride a camel, feed a kangaroo or lesser panda, and cuddle a koala. The zoo is opened up over 110 acres, so confirm you wear your walking sh
14. Explore the Cape York Peninsula & the Torres Strait Islands
Remote, rugged, and rich in aboriginal history, the “trip to the tip” of the Cape York Peninsula is one of Australia’s epic road trips. you’ll reach a number of the highest Cape York destinations on each day trip from Cairns, including the historic settlement of Cooktown and therefore the wildlife-rich wetlands of Lakefield park, but to hit the northernmost tip of Australia, excellent planning and an off-road vehicle are essential. River crossings are a part of the journey, and within the far north, wet season deluges wash out the rudimentary roads, so travel must be tackled during the season, from May to October. Along the way, you’ll see jungly rain forests, wild mangrove-fringed beaches, sprawling savannah, croc-filled rivers, ancient rock art, and interesting aboriginal communities. North of Weipa, it’s usually necessary to camp, and satellite phones are highly recommended.
If you’re not up for the design and logistics of a self-drive tour of this wild, relatively unspoiled region, you’ll always take an organized tour or fly directly into one among the 274 Torres Strait Islands north of Cape York’s tip. Thursday Island is that the main office and an excellent place to find out about the culture of the Torres Strait islanders, while Horn Island reveals a desirable military history. Private Roko Island offers a singular glamping experience, and you’ll tour a pearl farm here and on Friday Island. Fishing charters off Weipa are another popular thanks to explore this untamed coast.