When visiting the US – most people know that when you are visiting Los Angeles and Disneyland, they are in California and when heading to cruise ports of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, they are in Florida. Most people who travel to Australia know the city names or the attractions that they want to see, but very rarely the State that they are traveling to.
The State of Queensland is pretty large, 2.5 times the size of Texas, so there is plenty of land to cover, and plenty of sights to see along the way. Narrowing this down, more than 70% of the population of Queensland reside within 50 miles of the coast, which reduces the amount of land you need to cover without missing out on too many of the highlights.
More often than not, the Great Barrier Reef is on the top of the Australia Bucket List of experiences. Located in Queensland, the reef stretches for over 1,400 miles and begins near Papua New Guinea and continues south along the Queensland coast to Bundaberg (just north of Brisbane). With over 450 types of coral, 1500 types of fish and 4,000 types of mollusks the reef is as diverse as it is as colorful. Dive with turtles and manta rays off Lady Elliot Island, snorkel the spectacular Low Isles coral cay off Port Douglas and Cairns, take a romantic scenic flight over the iconic Heart Reef, or perhaps try a helmet dive at Green Island.
Island hopping is another option to get the best sea and land experience. Offering a range of island experiences that run from the far north to the Queensland border, there is an island for all budgets and penchants. Explore the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island that features inland lakes, rainforest and a 75-mile beach that is a dedicated 4WD highway. Experience world-class snorkeling amongst island jewels like Lady Elliot or Heron Island. Hamilton Island is the largest residential island of the 74 in the Whitsundays, offering a range of accommodation from the luxurious qualia, to adults only or family friendly hotels. Upmarket resort options include Lizard Island, One & Only Hayman and Orpheus Island.
Queensland has over 8,000 miles of coastline, making a coastal vacation a beachside option. From the long, sandy surf beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, to the protected bays and palm-lined beaches of the tropics, and private island beaches, you could spend weeks’ months exploring them all. Don’t forget the stunning Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, which is regularly voted the world’s most beautiful beach – with pure white silica sand surround by clear waters.
Now with so much coastline, there is bound to be plenty of marine life that swim past! Each year, between June and November, more than 7,000 humpback whales stop to stay and play in Hervey Bay as part of their annual 3,100-mile migration to Antarctica. Whales stop to teach their baby calves skills such as breaching, spy hopping and survival skills.
Fishing is also a popular recreational sport in Queensland. Try surf fishing on Fraser Island or go deep sea fishing off Cairns in search of the great Black Marlin. Land a Barramundi right off the beach in Gladstone or perhaps try crabbing in lakes or estuaries. Nothing is better than spending a day out fishing and coming back to the hotel and grilling it on the ‘barbie’.
You can learn to surf on Bondi Beach, but what about learning to surf on the iconic Surfers Paradise Beach, one of Australia’s most famous surf spots. The Quicksilver Pro and Noosa Festival Surfing are among some the best surf events on the international calendar. Did you know there is even a competition for surfing dogs?
Get your adrenaline going with 4WD adventures along the beach highways on Fraser Island, Rainbow Beach, Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island. Go sand-boarding or perhaps stand-up paddle boarding.
For land lovers, Queensland has more than 1,000 National Parks and five of the 16 World Heritage-listed sites in Australia. Explore underground lava tubes at Undara or walk through the Earth’s oldest living rainforest in the Daintree National Park. Make your way to Cape Hillsborough National Park where the rainforest meets the shoreline and wallabies and kangaroos scour the morning tide for mangrove sea pods, seaweed and coral sand dollars. Walk amongst the rainforest on the Tree Top Walkway at Cunungra or through the Misty Mountains wilderness walking tracks outside of Ravenshoe. Go bushwalking on Keswick Island, birdwatching in Dysart or fossicking for dinosaur fossils in the Outback.
No matter what you adventure or experience you are seeking, look no further than Queensland – home of the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree National Park, Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, the largest sand island in the world and so much more.
For more information about Queensland, check out Down Under Answers.
Down Under Answers is a paid sponsor of Budget Your Trip.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.