Queensland is Australia’s second largest state. Commonly called the -Sunshine State-, it boasts a warm climate, tropical beaches, World Heritage rainforests, a portion of the outback, the Great Barrier Reef, cozy beach communities and Brisbane, the third largest city in Australia.
Most visitors to Queensland arrive in Brisbane, as it is the main gateway to this region. Brisbane is a city for every traveler, offering an abundance of outdoor activities, art galleries and museums, shopping, beaches, fine dining and nightlife.
Here are some of the most popular attractions in Brisbane:
– South Bank is a community vibrant in arts and culture, situated on 16 hectares of waterfront property. It is full of outdoor markets, cafes, restaurants, walk ways and bike paths. And for those warm Aussie days, cool off at Streets Beach by taking a dip in the swimming lagoon. Home of the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and the Performing Arts Center it’s a great destination with those who have art in their hearts.
– Story Bridge: Bridge tours are available on this famous bridge. A guide will take you on a 2 ½ hour climb, almost a kilometer up the bridge, providing stunning 360 degree views of the city, the Bunya Mountains and the Brisbane River.
– Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. The Sanctuary offers opportunities to get close to many different types of Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, wombats, dingos, and of course koalas! You can even experience holding a koala. The soft marsupial will cling to you like a young child; it is not your average animal!
– Riverlife Adventure Center is a perfect way for any outdoor adventurer to spend the day. Located on the edge of the Brisbane River, they offer rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, cycling and rollerblading.
– Moreton Bay Islands are just a short drive and ferry ride from Brisbane. Offering dozens of sandy islands in the sheltered blue waters, Moreton Bay is a favorite getaway for Brisbane locals and visitors alike. Here you can feed the wild dolphins or make the rewarding hike up to the summit of Mount Tempest.
The Gold Coast is a very popular destination. In fact, it is where many Aussies go for holiday. With 70 kilometers of sandy beaches, theme parks, restaurants and shopping, you can’t go wrong.
Here are some highlights of the Gold Coast:
– There are 35 beautiful beaches on the Gold Coast boasting activities like sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, speed boating, deep sea fishing, and simply enjoying the beach. Some of the more popular ones are Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta, Broadbeach and Currumbin.
– The major theme parks in this region include Dreamworld, Sea World, Warner Bros Movie World, Wet N Wild Water World and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. These parks are a wonderful way to bring out the kid in you!
– The Gold Coast is home to some of Australia’s best National Parks and Rainforests. Lamington National Park is where you will find Australia’s largest preserved subtropical rainforest. If you visit Lamington, make sure to try the Tree Top Walk. It is an elevated track, 15 meters above the rainforest floor made up of 9 suspension bridges. This park also has many walking and hiking trails, and picnic areas complete with bbq’s.
– Also in this area are Springbrook National Park and Tamborine Mountain. Both have a plethora of gorges cascading water, interesting native flora and fauna and scenic walking trails.
The Sunshine Coast is located just 1 hour north of Brisbane. It is known for its 100 kilometers of gorgeous beaches and quaint villages. It is also home to the internationally renowned Australia Zoo.
Here are some highlights of the Sunshine Coast:
– Reaching into the sky at 500m, the Glass House Mountains offer an array of hiking trails for all levels, picnic areas and amazing lookouts of the 16 volcanic crags.
– Known for being a swanky holiday resort, Noosa is one of the more sophisticated beach towns in Queensland. Still offering activities like surfing, horseback riding, sea-kayaking, diving and rock climbing, it attracts travelers of all types and styles making for an enjoyable place to hang out.
Fraser Island is about 180 miles north of Brisbane. At 120 km long and 15 km wide, it is one of the largest sand islands in the world. It is well known for its beautiful white sand beaches, dense rainforests and over 100 fresh water lakes. Unfortunately the beaches on Fraser Island are not safe for swimming due to strong undertows and tiger sharks in the area. There are many great swimming spots at most of the lakes including Lake McKenzie and Yankee Jack Lake.
Just north of Fraser Island is Great Keppel Island. It’s tropical climate and 17 km of fine, white sand beaches have been attracting visitors for years. Since about 90 percent of the island is covered in natural bushland, there are many hiking options. Some of the many popular activities on the island include snorkeling, diving, swimming, water skiing, and parasailing.
The Whitsunday Islands are described by many as pure island paradise. They are made up of 74 islands, however only 8 are inhabited. These beautiful islands are bordered by the Great Barrier Reef. Known for its spectacular sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, golf and tennis, it’s a great destination for the active traveler.
Cairns is a tropical relaxed city bordered by rainforest mountain ranges on one side, and the Coral Sea on the other. It is the primary gateway to this area and the Great Barrier Reef.
Here are some of the main highlights of Cairns:
– The Cairns Esplanade is an oceanfront promenade full of restaurants, outside cafes, shops, waterfront hotels and even a saltwater swimming lagoon.
– Cairns features an abundance of adventure activities, such as sky divining, bungee jumping, white water rafting, and tours to the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is a must-see for anyone visiting Australia. It the largest reef system in the world, at more than 2,000 kilometers long. It is home to more than 400 types of coral reef, fish and sea life. Take a tour by boat, plane, helicopter, or underwater observatories. To get a closer look at life on the reef, consider taking one of hundreds of snorkeling and/or dive tours as it offers some of the best diving in the world.
Approximately one hour north of Cairns is the sophisticated yet laid-back town of Port Douglas. Here one can find the pristine 4 Mile Beach, many fine dining options, upscale boutique shops, and a variety of oceanfront resorts and hotels.
Kuranda is a vibrant little village hidden high in the rainforest and it quite famous for its markets. Making your way to Kuranda can be even more fun than the actual visit. The two main options are:
– Scenic Railway departs from Cairns, going through 15 tunnels and over more than 30 bridges.
– Skyrail Rainforest Cableway runs between Caravonica to Kuranda, above the Barron Gorge National Park.
Cape Tribulation is the most northern settlement in Queensland. It is a beautiful, small village in the rainforest, where the rainforest literally meets the reef!
Daintree Rainforest is the largest rainforest in Australia and is over 135 million years old. It also has the largest and most diverse range of plants and animals on earth. For visitors, it features hiking trails, camp sites, picnic tables, swimming holes and beaches. Guided tours are available, including river tours on the Daintree River.
Look for our series of articles on the five other states of Australia including Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, and its mainland territory, Northern Territory.
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