Welcome to Queensland, where the locals are always smiling thanks to the 300 sunny days they enjoy every year. Just as welcoming as the weather and people, the Queensland landscape is famous for vast and beautiful coastlines, the wide-open spaces of the outback, lush rainforests, and the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. Made up of a number of unique and captivating regions, Queensland is like a giant living and breathing postcard, waiting to be explored.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Brisbane is full of interesting ways to spend time, including a packed calendar of music, sporting, cultural, food, and wine events. The city’s relaxed urban outdoor lifestyle offers great alfresco dining and a vibrant live music scene. Visitors can mix with locals at weekend markets, explore parklands and laneways or enjoy the cultural precinct at South Bank. This area of Brisbane is home to Australia’s largest gallery of modern art, an inner-city man-made beach, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre. Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs provide an interesting collection of urban villages with cool bars, lively pubs, live music venues, and trendy nightspots. The city is an ideal shopping destination, offering a variety of international, national and local brands selling the finest in fashion, art, and accessories.
Experience nature on Brisbane’s doorstep with iconic wildlife adventures. Discover the city’s natural wonders with peaceful riverside walks, picnics in the park, and cruises and adventure tours to hinterland and island destinations. Take a ferry to Moreton Bay and the nearby islands to enjoy beach activities such as sandboarding, quad bike tours, and dolphin feeding. An hour from the city, travelers can also visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to cuddle a koala and feed the resident kangaroos.
The Gold Coast is Australia’s capital of fun. Stunning surf beaches. World Heritage-listed rainforest, theme parks, shopping, restaurants, and year-round special events are just some of the reasons the Gold Coast Is a favorite holiday spot for Australians. Just 30 minutes from the beach is the Gold Coast hinterland, featuring World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park, home to a wide variety of animal species, walking tracks, spectacular views, and thundering waterfalls. Only one hour south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is easily accessible by air from all major Australian gateways and select international cities.
Visitors can experience the scenery in a hot air balloon followed by a champagne breakfast at a boutique winery or a scenic flight along the coastline or a sunset cruise on the Broadwater. For adventure seekers, there’s a wide choice of activities, from bungee jumping, skydiving, paragliding, and parasailing, to hang gliding and abseiling.
Located just an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is an inviting mix of pristine coastline and surf beaches, lush hinterland, fine cuisine, and a relaxed, casual lifestyle. The region extends from the seaside town of Caloundra, west to the Blackall Range, and north to the colorful sand cliffs of Rainbow Beach, the gateway to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.
Perfect for a day trip or short break, the hinterland is a lush, green haven of rainforest, farmland, mountains, waterfalls, lakes. and charming villages, complete with log fires in the winter months. Nature lovers have a whole range of national parks to choose from, including the ancient volcanic remains of the Glass House Mountains, Noosa National Park, Kondalilla National Park, and Great Sandy National Park. The Eumundi Markets are a major highlight of hinterland life. Held every Wednesday and Saturday morning, the markets feature farmers, producers, and craftspeople.
The Sunshine Coast is blessed with over 60 miles of coastline that’s safe to swim in all year round and is perfect for surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, and kite surfing. Explore the beachside towns of Maroochydore, Coolum, Sunshine Beach, and Noosa. Wildlife fans can swim with sharks or playful seals at Underwater World and watch crocodile feeding at Australia Zoo. There are many family attractions to enjoy, such as tasting delicious local produce at the Ginger Factory or go-karting at the Big Kart Track.
The Fraser Coast region is a holiday playground surrounded by nature, with long sandy beaches, relaxing island retreats, abundant marine life, and national parks. The region includes the areas of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Tiaro, and the Great Sandy Strait. It enjoys a mild climate throughout the year, making it an ideal coastal destination for travelers. Whale watching is a special experience for visitors to enjoy from July to November each year, when migrating humpback whales rest, play, and feed their calves before heading south to the Antarctic.
Peaceful fishing communities line the shores of the Great Sandy Strait and capture the laidback lifestyle of the Fraser Coast region. Settled in 1847, Maryborough is one of Queensland’s oldest provincial cities, famous for its stunning colonial and Queenslander architecture, historical museums, riverside dining, and beautiful parklands. Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and home to unusual ecosystems, where crystal clear lakes lie between towering trees and sand dunes. Take a guided 4WD safari or explore the island from the air in a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft before landing on the beach. Fraser Island is accessible by boat transfer from Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach.
SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND COUNTRY
Rich in heritage and natural beauty, Southern Queensland Country is perfect for a self-drive holiday. The area is famous for its panoramic mountain views, natural attractions, boutique wineries, and warm hospitality. The region includes Toowoomba, Kingaroy, Warwick, and Stanthorpe, and is bordered by South Burnett, the Granite Belt, and the Darling Downs.
Experience the chill of winter and the warmth of a roaring fire or the refreshing cool of a rainforest walk. Enjoy the display of local wildflowers in spring, discover bargains at antique shops, enjoy a true Australian lunch at a country pub and relax in front of a rolling landscape in the perfect seclusion of a cozy cabin or Bed and Breakfast. Visitors can discover a range of local art and craft galleries, tea-rooms, cottages, farms, tranquil lakes, and wineries as they travel through this charming region.
Famous for its architecture and open spaces overlooking the Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba is Queensland’s Garden City, with more than 240 public parks and gardens, and only a 90-minute drive from Brisbane. Historic buildings such as the grand Victorian railway station, Regional Art Gallery, and the restored Empire Theatre show off the city’s vibrant past. The Bunya Mountains National Park is a well-kept secret, featuring spectacular rainforests and an unusual variety of animal and plants, including strangler figs, wild orchids, and around 120 species of mammals, frogs, and reptiles.
At the heart of the Great Barrier Reef lie the 74 Whitsunday Islands, in the warm, tropical waters of the picturesque Coral Sea. Islands that feature world-class resorts and experiences include Hamilton, Daydream, and the One and Only Hayman Islands. Celebrated for ideal sailing conditions, the Whitsundays region lies midway along the Queensland coast. Seventy percent of the region is protected as National and Marine parkland, making it an ideal destination for exploring nature or enjoying a romantic island escape.
Choose from a wide variety of ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef, including snorkeling, diving, day and overnight cruises, semi-submersible boat rides, or a scenic flight over the famous Heart Reef. The Whitsundays has a wide range of sailing vessels to choose from, including sleek maxi racing yachts, eco-certified tall ships, powerboats where visitors can chart their own course. One of the most popular sports in the Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach, has been named as one of the best beaches in the world many times over and offers a 4.3 mile stretch of white silica sand.
On the Whitsunday Coast, Airlie Beach is a vibrant beachside town with a range of accommodation, including backpacking hostels, luxury apartments, and hillside villas. It’s a social and lively place with great restaurants, clubs, and bars.
A major highlight of this region is the wide range of adventure activities on offer, including quad biking, jet skiing, parasailing, skydiving, fishing, horse riding, and camel safaris. The Whitsundays is also an ideal destination for relaxation, offering spas, yoga classes, and natural therapies, all delivered in stunning locations. The Whitsundays region boasts two airports, Great Barrier Reef Airport, Hamilton Island, and the Whitsunday Coast Airport at Proserpine.
Mackay is a lush tropical region with natural attractions including national parks, tropical islands, and beautiful beaches. A diverse range of shopping, dining, and entertainment is available here, including an award-winning modern art gallery and botanic gardens. Brampton and Keswick islands lie just off the coast, with island day cruises and fishing charters regularly departing from the local marina.
Many heritage and cultural activities are on offer in the hinterland region, including gold fossicking, camping, and wildlife spotting. Eungella National Park is a one-hour drive west of Mackay and is Australia’s longest continuous stretch of sub-tropical rainforest, with walking tracks and amazing views across the Pioneer Valley. Cape Hillsborough National Park is well known for the friendly wallabies that come down onto the beach each morning at sunrise, and Broken River is famous for being one of the most reliable places in Australia to spot an elusive platypus.
SOUTHERN GREAT BARRIER REEF
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most popular destinations for travelers, and the southern tip of this natural wonder is just a four-hour drive north of Brisbane. Stretching from Bundaberg through to Gladstone, Rockhampton, and right up the Capricorn Coast, the Southern Great Barrier Reef features coral cays, authentic seaside towns, and glorious offshore escapes on Lady Elliot, Lady Musgrave, Heron, Wilson, and Great Keppel Islands.
This region invites visitors to explore the many natural wonders and activities on offer, with large coral reefs, colorful fish, and big marine stars like turtles and manta rays on display. Whether it be island-hopping and yachting, scenic country drives and tasting great local produce, or exploring sandstone gorges, national parks, and the Sapphire Gemfields, there is a huge range of things to do in this region. A quiet retreat from the crowds and tourist hotspots, the Southern Great Barrier Reef is the hidden gem of the Queensland coast. This unique and accessible region can be included as part of a larger itinerary.
CAIRNS & GREAT BARRIER REEF
Discover where the rainforest meets the reef at the heart of Australia’s tropical paradise. Nowhere else on earth do two World Heritage sites exist side by side — the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest tropical rainforests, both renowned for their scientific value and natural beauty. Extending from Mission Beach/Tully in the south to the Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait Islands in the north, and the Outback/Gulf Savannah in the west, the region is full of magical scenery, from fast-flowing rivers to deep gorges, waterfalls, and mountain summits with rainforest views.
The region is home to one of the oldest continually surviving rainforests on earth. The World Heritage-listed Tropical Rainforests are directly descended from the forests of Pangaea and Gondwana, hundreds of millions of years ago. It has Australia’s greatest diversity of plant and animal species. with many found nowhere else in the world.
Inland from Cairns is the fertile plateau of the Atherton Tablelands, containing ancient rainforests, stunning lakes, beautiful waterfalls. Ten Great Barrier Reef islands including Lizard, Green, and Fitzroy sit just off the coast of the region. Just north of Cairns are the beach villages of Palm Cove and Port Douglas. The rainforest village of Cape Tribulation and Kuranda are also within easy reach. Located halfway between Townsville and Cairns. Mission Beach is a relaxed beachfront town with golden sandy beaches fringed by rainforest.
TOWNSVILLE NORTH QUEENSLAND
Townsville is Queensland’s second-largest city and the gateway to a wide range of experiences including the Great Barrier Reef, tropical islands, World Heritage-listed rainforest, the Australian Outback, and Indigenous experiences. The region stretches from Hinchinbrook Island in the north to Charters Towers in the west and the Burdekin to the south.
Townsville’s relaxed tropical lifestyle blends with a lively urban atmosphere at the two inner-city cultural hubs — the Strand and Riverway lagoon precinct. Magnetic Island, known as ‘Maggie’ to the locals, is a popular destination and home to 23 stunning beaches and bays, 15 miles of walking trails, and the largest population of koalas in northern Australia. Travelers can visit four more islands from this region — Orpheus, Hinchinbrook, Bedarra, and Dunk.
Home to one of the world’s best wreck dives for certified divers, the SS Yongola is an underwater hot spot. You can also scuba dive or snorkel amid the rich clusters of coral, swim in the warm ocean shallows, or fish for the seasonal game on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Outback connects travelers with Australia’s cultural heritage and pioneering spirit through a vast network of welcoming communities. Sand dunes, dinosaur fossils, colorful birds, hidden waterholes, sunsets, and star-studded night skies are among the experiences to be enjoyed in the Outback. The area is filled with magnificent national parks and attractions showcasing the region’s history and Indigenous culture.