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Guide to Queensland

From the bright lights of the Gold Coast to the technicolour underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland has a piece of paradise to suit every traveller.


By Martha Tattersall

Explore ancient rainforests, snorkel with rainbow fish, sink your toes into some of the world's whitest sand and watch whales on their annual migration. Discover the living masterpiece that is the Great Barrier Reef, stay at one of the world's best hotels or shop up a beachside storm on the cosmopolitan Gold Coast. Head north to admire the world's largest sand island, explore the tropical city of Cairns, and experience a thriving cultural and arts scene in an emerging world city – the state of Queensland really does have something for everyone.

HOW TO GET THERE

Queensland has international airports in Brisbane, Cairns and the Gold Coast, with direct flights from many global hubs. Within Queensland, domestic air travel is an efficient and reliable way to get around, with airports located along the coast, on islands and inland. Road-tripping is another popular way to get around – the roads in Queensland are excellent and well-maintained. 

 

DON’T MISS

  • Snorkel, scuba dive or take a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef
  • Gaze at the Daintree, the oldest living rainforest on Earth
  • Stay at one of the world's best resorts in the Whitsunday Islands

TOP THINGS TO DO

Admire the incredible Great Barrier Reef
The living masterpiece that is the Great Barrier Reef stretches for more than 2000 kilometres (1200 miles) along the Queensland coastline. There are hundreds of tours and experiences available along the Great Barrier Reef coastline – most notably from the towns of CairnsPort DouglasTownsvilleAirlie BeachHamilton IslandSeventeen SeventyBundabergGladstone and Mackay – but whether you snorkel, scuba dive, fly, motor or sail over it, you simply must experience the colours and textures of this natural wonder. 

Visit tropical Cairns
With its international airport and excellent shopping, the tropical city of Cairns, in Queensland's far north, is a convenient access point for the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, but don't miss the great things to do in and around town. You'll find brilliant cafés, bustling markets and plenty of beaches nearby. Relax by one of the pools at a five-star resort, day trip to the nearby stylish villages of Port Douglas and Palm Cove, or spend your days out and about exploring this city oasis.

Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree, a two hour drive north of Cairns, is the world's oldest tropical rainforest and so beautiful that it provided inspiration for the movie Avatar. Stand in awe under the branches of the 600-million-year-old Zamia Fern, which has an underground trunk system evolved in defence against dinosaurs. Cruise the Daintree River, where you might spot a crocodile waiting in the mangroves or glimpse a turtle in the clear, sparkling streams below. Stay at one of the luxury eco lodges nestled in the rainforest such as Silky Oaks Lodge, or in the lovely beach village of Port Douglas nearby. 

Explore Brisbane
Soak up the subtropical climate, explore river, parks and outdoor spaces or delve into its arts and culture at South Bank. Take a paddle steamer or ferry down the Brisbane River or bike ride through the City Botanic Gardens. Brisbane is the perfect gateway from which to explore the wonder and beauty of Queensland.

The Gold Coast
From the iconic Surfers Paradise beach and the dining precincts of Main Beach and Broadbeach to the lush, green hinterland, there’s an experience waiting for you at every turn on the Gold Coast. In Australia's "theme park capital" see native Australian wildlife, meet your favourite movie characters and superheroes, or swim with dolphins.

Whitsunday Islands
Made up of 74 tropical islands, the Whitsundays archipelago lies just off the Queensland coast next to the Great Barrier Reef. Here, you’ll find some of the world’s best island resorts, including One&Only Hayman Island and qualia, as well as Whitehaven Beach – regularly voted into top 10 round-ups of the world's most beautiful beaches for its powder fine sands and dazzling aqua water – and the incredibly shaped Heart Reef.

Watch whales at Hervey Bay
The safe, sheltered waters of Hervey Bay make it one of the best places on Earth for whale watching. In winter months (July to November), humpback whales travel north along the Queensland coastline from Antarctica to the warm waters of the Whitsundays, stopping in calm Hervey Bay to breed and nurse their young.

See the world's largest sand island
A short ferry ride from Hervey Bay is World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. It's easy to see why the traditional Aboriginal owners called Fraser Island K'gari – paradise. Four-wheel drive next to the coloured cliffs of The Cathedrals, take a joy flight over 75 Mile Beach, bushwalk through rainforest growing from the sand and swim in mirrored lakes ringed with golden sand. There's also kayaking, jet skiing and wind surfing to enjoy.

Latest Articles About Queensland

The Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsunday Islands

Swim with sea turtles and rainbow-coloured fish, sail the clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef and sink your toes into the world's most beautiful beach on a tropical Whitsundays holiday.

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North Queensland's Winter Sun

North Queensland's Winter Sun

Want to make your friends jealous this winter? Tell them you're going to North Queensland, and casually mention the balmy weather, palm trees and swimmable seas. Snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef, set sail in the Whitsundays and trek back in time in the primeval Daintree Rainforest. Drive the Savannah Way to the remote Gulf Savannah. This tropical paradise is truly at its best from June to September, when the temperature averages 25 degrees Celsius and the turquoise waters are stinger free.

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Gold Coast Surfing

Gold Coast Surfing

As well as an international party destination, the Gold Coast boasts some of Australia's best, most consistent waves and hosts many international surfing competitions. The 35 beaches are patrolled year round by professional lifeguards and have surf to suit all levels of experience. If you're a surfing novice, the Gold Coast is an ideal place to learn. Sign up with one of the many surf schools, where accredited teachers will help you to stand up on your board and catch your first wave fast.

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Explore the tropical islands near Cairns

Explore the tropical islands near Cairns

Off the coast of Cairns you’ll discover an array of tropical islands – each with their own ecosystems. There are Vlasoff Cay and Michaelmas Cay; the coral wonderlands of Green Island and the Low Isles; the more substantial, densely forested, Fitzroy Island; and the five tiny islands that make up the Frankland group.

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Brisbane's Cultural Life

Brisbane's Cultural Life

Brisbane is a city with some serious cultural credentials. This is where you'll find the sprawling Queensland Cultural Centre on South Bank, which hosts every manner of artistic endeavour and a growing number of world-class exhibitions. But this national treasure trove of galleries, museums, theatres and arts spaces is just the start. Brisbane's cultural hot-spots include eclectic New Farm and Fortitude Valley and the city, with its public art and heritage buildings.

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Fraser Island

Fraser Island

Embrace nature on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, a short ferry ride from Hervey Bay on Queensland's Fraser Coast. On the world's largest sand island, you can 4WD next to coloured sand cliffs, hike through rainforest, meet native wildlife, whale-watch and swim in freshwater lakes ringed with gold. Get here on the Pacific Coast Touring Route or Great Sunshine Way.

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A culinary adventure in Queensland

A culinary adventure in Queensland

Blessed with amazing produce from land and sea, combined with a climate that makes outdoor dining a pleasant reality nearly every day of the year, Queensland’s cuisine focuses on relaxed sophistication, where the local ingredients star and the views provide a spectacular backdrop. Chinese journalist and restauranteur Jing Li, Malaysian celebrity chef Sherson Lian and Indian executive chef Kunal Kapur uncovered the gourmet experiences from this beautiful state.

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Great Barrier Reef Animals

Great Barrier Reef Animals

Here's how to get up close with local marine life on the Great Barrier Reef.

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10 Reasons to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

10 Reasons to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

As the world’s largest and most extensive coral reef system, it’s no wonder the Great Barrier Reef – which extends from Bundaberg in the south to beyond Cape York in the north - is an international icon.

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