Popular destinations in Queensland
Here is an introduction to some of the most popular destinations and activities in Queensland. For more inspiration and valuable tips on your dream destination, simply follow the links under each destination. But first, the top-five destinations in Queensland followed by a range of more detailed and inspiring destinations, as well as good-to-know advice on when planning a trip here, or for when travelling in the area.
- Fraser Island; The largest sand island in the world. Feel the adrenaline pumping as you cross the hard-packed sandy banks in a jeep. Slide down the dunes, wander along hundreds-of-kilometres long sandy beaches, enter deep rainforests or go out to sea to see dolphins, rays, sharks or whales. Don’t forget to visit the rusty wreck of SS Maheno on the Seventy-Five Mile Beach or The Pinnacle’s high sandy cliffs shifting shades of red and gold (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Fraser+Island%2C+Queensland).
- Great Barrier Reef; Cruise across an azure-blue sea along the coast of central Queensland. Stretch your legs at Whitsunday Islands, the tropical archipelago, or discover life beneath the surface among anemones, sponges and sea stars at Great Barrier Reef’s corals. Spot colourful fish, swim with dolphins, turtles and whales in crystal-clear warm waters. There is a great variety of water activities to choose from here (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Great%20Barrier%20Reef,%20Cairns).
- Daintree National Park och Cape Tribulation; Enter the lush green jewel of Queensland, Daintree Rainforest, and let yourself be surrounded by the jungle’s long draping vines, moist air and a cacophony of birds, croaking frogs and creaking trees. Continue to the coast via winding roads and drive along a scenic coastal route all the way to Cape Tribulations deserted beaches. It might feel like you are the first ever to leave your footprint on the moist beach (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Daintree+-+Cape+Tribulation%2C+Queensland).
- Gold Coast; Shiny skyscrapers are lined up along the coastal strip in Australia’s entertainment paradise number one. Powerful waves crash into the popular beach Surfers Paradise where both local abilities and tourists enjoy the beach life under a roasting sun 300 days a year. From here, it is easy to reach national parks such as Springbrook and Lamington where Queensland’s lush rainforests with its ancient forests and mighty inactive volcanoes and cooling waterfalls awaits (wotif.com/discover/australia/queensland/gold-coast.d180064).
- Cairns; Neither cocky nor big. You will find an eclectic mix of native crocodile hunters and pale newcomers in sunhats here. A few blocks from the flashy casino, the rainforest lies dense. The city is the perfect base for making excursions to the Great Barrier Reef or to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Try the Kuranda Scenic Railway, an unforgettable journey across and through the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. Make a daytrip to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park if you want to gain insight of life in the jungle (wotif.com/things-to-do/kuranda-village-tjapukai-aboriginal-park-day-tour.a190097.activity-details).
Long sun-drenched days, a relatively mild winter and a thriving nightlife, it’s the metropolis and capital Brisbane we’re talking about. There is no lack of culture, shopping, markets, good food or any of the comforts you could wish for from a city. And the bonus – it is a city with nature on its doorstep, you can cherry-pick. Hike, bike or enjoy a fantastic view of Brisbane from the nearby Mount Coot-tha Reserve, one of many nature reserves. Take a trip to Moreton Bay with all its tropical islets and rich marine wildlife, just around an hour’s drive from the capital. Perfect for snorkelling, surfing or swimming. Go south to visit the characteristic beaches on Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast with its turquoise waters. Or, go inland and experience a climate of sultry rainforests, wildlife and untamed nature. The state capital is simply a good starting point for those who want a bit of everything.
For those who have their sights set on turquoise, clear salty waters and the coral reef with its fantastic underwater world, a trip to the humid and slightly warmer Tropical Queensland or Queensland Central Coast (slightly cooler and with lower rainfall than Tropical Queensland) is the answer. Follow the crowds or go to calmer waters on the Central Coast. When nature-experiences in populated areas are high on the list, try exploring ancient cave systems, scenic national parks and the world’s largest sand island Fraser Island. Or travel to more distant or regional parts, leave the coastal towns and get inland. If you feel done with exploring Tropical Queensland’s barrier reef, more UNESCO adventures are waiting for you in the Rainforest Daintree. In this region, the towns are few and small and located far from each other, but they offer a place to enjoy the comforts of civilization on the eve before another outdoor adventure.
Something that is completely different from the coast’s lush greenery awaits in Outback Queensland and West of Brisbane. Surround yourself by red, yellow and brown desert colours. Travel to smaller towns or villages by car or bus. Visit old mining towns among national parks and explore ancient Aboriginal rock art. Fossils, waterholes and hiking trails. In some of the old mining towns you can pay too look for riches yourself. Dig for dinosaur bones in Winton, located in the middle of the state. If you are prepared for a long drive and some camping, don’t miss the Big Red Bash festival amid the desert’s scarlet-red sands in winter (July). Or Rodeo in Mount Isa in August. A journey inland is suitable for those who prefer the more adventurous trips where the pleasures of civilization and city life is of little importance.
Destinations in Queensland
Getting to and around the state
The state capital Brisbane is easily accessible by air, car or public transport. Public transport is well developed in the Brisbane area. There are plenty of trains and buses, and you can get around via the ferry on Brisbane River. Bus connections are good between Queensland’s major cities, offering great flexibility if you buy a so-called hop on, hop off card with Greyhound. There are also buses to Outback Queensland, as well as train options. If you choose to drive, keep in mind that it takes a long time to get to regional and remote destinations. For those who want to get around in national parks on their own or want to get to the Outback, a good four-wheel drive is to recommend. One can also get to larger towns and cities by airplane. For those who want to relax and let someone else do the planning, there are a lots of organizers organising day trips and longer trips.
Keep in mind
Tropical storms and floods are common in Brisbane and along the coasts during summer. When it rains, it pours. Pack down a spare set of clothes when going on a daytrip. And there is also the risk of drought and fires. The fires tend to be more serious in Australia’s southernmost parts. In early spring, the risk of serious thunderstorms with devastating winds, torrential downpours, huge hail and tornadoes is high, especially in the southwest and inland. Consider which climate will work best for you when planning a trip to Queensland and what season your preferred activities are best suited.
If going to the desert, expect some tough times. Just take the high temperatures, the distances and the lack of all the comforts of civilization. You must be well prepared for a trip through the desert, both mentally and physically. Buy a proper map, an extra can or two of petrol and a whole bunch of drinking water so you have the basics, then all you need is heaps of patience and a taste of this kind of trip. This is not a trip for the faint-hearted, nature-shy or the heat-sensitive one.