From stunning beaches to the desert, there is plenty to experience in Queensland, Australia. Here's a list of the most popular destinations.
From the beaches to the desert, Queensland is one of Australia’s most diverse states, offering everything from remote rainforest wilderness to the bustling city streets of Brisbane. Because Queensland boasts such a variety of habitats and activities, deciding what to do and see can be a challenge, but you can count on these popular destinations to never disappoint.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is Queensland’s top tourist destination. The massive and majestic reef spans more than 1,243 miles along the coast and offers endless opportunities for exploration and activity. Get up close and personal with some of the area’s marine life by diving at Green Island, or explore a shipwreck under the waters at Townsville and Magnetic Island. Swim with sea turtles at Hamilton Island, or go snorkeling at Lady Elliot Island.
You don’t even have to get wet to enjoy the Reef. Take a glass bottom boat ride from Green Island, or enjoy a helicopter view with a tour from Cairns.
Tourists flock to Queensland’s Gold Coast, a 35-mile stretch of white sandy beach that runs from Southport in the north to Coolangatta in the south. The area offers an array of activities at numerous resorts, hotels, high-rises, eateries, and tourist attractions. If you’re a surfer, head to the Surfers Paradise section of the beach. Do some sun worshiping at Mermaid Beach or Burleigh Beach.
If you prefer action away from the water, cuddle a koala at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, or head to Movie World to visit re-creations of old movie sets. This tourist hot spot is a one-hour drive south of Brisbane.
The largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island has more than just beaches. Rainforests, more than 100 freshwater lakes, and miles of sand dunes punctuate the landscape of this popular island destination. The setting is ideal for camping, and popular daytime activities include hiking, fishing off 75 Mile Beach, and touring Great Sandy National Park on a four-wheeler. Visit the rusted Maheno shipwreck, see the colored sandstone cliffs of The Cathedrals, or stop by the Champagne Pools, a section of bubbling rock pools. To get to Fraser Island, take the ferry from Rainbow Beach and Harvey Bay.
Journey from the sea to the rainforest and visit Kuranda, a village 15 miles northwest of Cairns. To get there, take the Kuranda Scenic Railway or the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, both offering extraordinary views of the Kuranda Range Rainforest. Once inside the village, learn about the local aboriginal culture at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, get up close with a koala at Kuranda Koala Gardens, or visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the country’s largest butterfly exhibit. Be sure to visit the many small markets and colorful shops featuring local artisans.
Daintree National Park
Roughly 80 miles north of Kuranda is Daintree National Park, one of the oldest surviving rainforests in the world. The park provides plenty of opportunities to glimpse rare animals, as the rainforest has one of the highest concentrations of threatened and endangered species. In addition to the animals, more than 18,000 plant species live within the park boundaries. Start south of the park at Port Douglas and embark on a rainforest wilderness safari, or plan a visit to the Daintree Discovery Centre to take a guided tour or enjoy the canopy tower and aerial walkway. Popular spots within the park include Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge.
If you’re hoping to experience the quintessential Australian Outback, Longreach is your destination. Located in Central Queensland, this region boasts stunning scenery and a friendly atmosphere. Visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame to get a glimpse of the rural Outback life, or plan a trip to the Qantas Founders Outback Museum for an inside look at the aviation giant, Qantas Airlines. Take an Outback tour for a guided look at the area, and even enjoy a cruise and show along the Thomson River. To get to this exquisite area, fly direct from Brisbane into Longreach Airport.
Granite Belt Wine Country
Located a short three-hour drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, the Granite Belt Wine Country claims to be the only place in Queensland that has four distinct seasons. The climate and land, which sits nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, makes for excellent wine production, and the region boasts close to 50 wineries.
As you travel along the New England Highway, take in the stunning scenery of the region, which is known for its large granite rocks punctuating the countryside. Make your way to the heart of the region in Stanthorpe, where you can experience some local Queensland history at the Stanthorpe & District Historical Society Museum. Guided wine tours run from Dalveen in the north to Ballandean in the south; if driving, make sure you have a designated driver for the trip.
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