Queensland is Australia’s second largest state and offers numerous idyllic holiday destinations. From the surf-loving beaches of the Gold Coast to the wildlife-rich rainforests of the Daintree, Queensland spreads a dazzling array of wonders. The state’s most famous attraction is the marine-rich kingdom of the 2000km-long Great Barrier Reef. Islands are also a Queensland specialty, and with over 1000 of them, you’ll find everything from idyllic white-sand beauties ringed by coral reefs to rugged dune- and forest-covered locales ripe for adventure.
Speaking of adventure, the Sunshine State delivers the goods. You can snorkel or dive through underwater landscapes, go white-water rafting on grade-four rapids, kayak enchanting coastlines, or bushwalk through rainforests and gorges, up mountains and along lakes and rivers. Wildlife watching is superb, with tropical birds, whales, cassowaries and even crocs on Queensland’s greatest-hits list.
Two-thirds of Queensland lies above the Tropic of Capricorn. In the monsoonal Far North, visitors can venture into magnificent ancient rainforests, like those of Daintree National Park, where cool respite lies in places such as the boulder-strewn Mossman Gorge. South of the capital city, Brisbane is the famous Gold Coast. With more waterways than Venice and 300 days of sunshine each year, it is the perfect place for swimming and surfing. The theme parks here will terrify and astound, while in the hinterland, an emerald-green paradise allows visitors to soak up magnificent views among waterfalls and rainforest trees.
Off the coast of Queensland are the tropical islands that make up the Whitsunday Islands and the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns, Port Douglas and Townsville are departure points for cruises to the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands.
Top Reasons to Visit Queensland Australia
EXPLORING THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
With a multitude of coloured fish and beautiful coral formations the Great Barrier Reef is the closest you’ll ever get to seeing another world. So, pull on your flippers, air tanks or snorkel and jump into the blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is the #1 attraction that draws thousands of visitors to Queensland each year and for good reason. The Reef offers the ultimate in diving with 2000 species of fish, dugongs, turtles and extensive coral gardens, all protected by World Heritage listing. There are thousands of spectacular dive sites scattered along the coral spine of the Great Barrier Reef, some within close proximity of the mainland. Coral reefs rise out of calm, blue waters teeming with colourful fish and the Reef waters are warm enough for swimming year-round.
Best places to access the Great Barrier Reef:
ENJOYING THE OUTDOORS
Queensland abounds with natural attractions and experiences which makes it a perfect holiday destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. So, pack your bags and head to the Sunshine state.
There’s so much to see and do in the great outdoors of Queensland. From the white sandy beaches of Queensland islands to the lush green rainforests of Queensland’s interior, there are plenty of natural wonders and adventure activities in between. Choose from exploring rainforests and reefs, unspoiled beaches and islands, rushing rivers, dramatic gorges, distinctive wildlife, hiking, and water sports. Whatever you choose to do, Queensland’s outdoors will definitely impress.
Must-visit outdoor destinations:
Wildlife viewing is a prime pastime for visitors to Queensland thanks to the abundant wildlife habitats found around the state. So, pack your binoculars and head for the national parks and islands of Queensland.
Queensland is one of the best places in Australia for wildlife watching. Animal lovers will be spoilt for choice with the abundant wildlife that can be found throughout the state. Flora and fauna on the islands themselves can be fascinating: rainforests, hills and rocky areas, and postcard-perfect beaches provide diverse habitat for everything from turtles, birds, and lizards to echidnas and bandicoots. While Queensland’s national parks are prime wildlife habitat, many wild animals can also be found in other areas around Queensland.
Best wildlife watching experiences:
RELEASING YOUR INNER CHILD
From exciting theme parks to world-class wildlife zoos and parks, Queensland is packed with fun attractions for kids and the young at heart. Find your inner child on a trip to Queensland.
There’s more to Queensland than just its natural wonders. There are plenty of fun and exciting activities to suit kids, families and the young at heart. Queensland’s Gold Coast is abuzz with world-class theme parks – from thrill rides and water parks to Outback-inspired extravaganzas. Queensland also has some of the best wildlife zoos, parks and aquariums in the country – Australia Zoo and Currumbin Wildlife Park are extremely popular with both young and old.
Must-visit fun attractions:
EXPERIENCE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS CULTURE
Queensland is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of Aboriginal culture outside the Northern Territory. Go off-the-beaten track to experience something unique.
The Kuku Yalanji people have lived in the area between Port Douglas and Cooktown for millennia. A highlight of visiting the region is experiencing this unique landscape from the perspective of its traditional owners. Several day and multiday tours allow you to experience Kuku Yalaji culture and visit some of the area’s spiritually significant sites. This is one of the few places outside the Northern Territory where you can get a good understanding of Aboriginal culture.
Not-to-be-missed Aboriginal experiences:
History of Queensland
Europeans first arrived in Queensland in the 1600s with Dutch, Portuguese and French navigators exploring the north-eastern region, and then in 1770 Captain James Cook took possession of the east coast. By 1825 the area that is modern-day Brisbane Central Business District was established as a penal colony for the more intractable convicts. Despite fierce Aboriginal resistance, the area was later settled and in 1859 the state became a separate colony independent of New South Wales. Since then, Queensland has experienced dynamic growth and progress, aided by the discovery of gold and other minerals in the 1860s and ‘70s, and successful sugar-cane production. Mining and agriculture continue to form the state’s economic backbone today.
Queensland’s climate isn’t really broken up into summer and winter; it’s a tropical state so it has wet and dry seasons. Loosely, the dry season runs from April to December. In the far north (anything north of Cairns) and outback Queensland, however, January to March (December to April in Cape York) is the wet season and the heat and humidity can make life pretty uncomfortable. Once the monsoonal rains of the Wet arrive, which usually occurs in January and February, most parts of the Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria, and much of the outback, are often inaccessible except by light aircraft. The Daintree region virtually shuts down and the Bloomfield Track is often unpassable. Cooktown too only has limited services between November and May. Deadly ‘stingers’ (box jellyfish) also frequent the waters at this time. The further south you head the less are the effects of the wet season.
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The best time to visit Queensland is during the winter months – June to October. The extreme heat and stifling humidity of summer have been replaced by warm, sunny days and refreshingly cool nights. Also, these months are peak visibility time for divers; the temperature rarely drops below 72°F (22°C).
Map of Queensland