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Very aptly called ‘The Sunshine State’, Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. But more importantly Queensland is a state of excitement!
Queensland has an abundance of natural beauty, including: the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast featuring some of the state’s most incredible beaches; the Bunya Mountains and the Great Dividing Range with numerous lookouts, waterfalls and picnic areas; the wondrous Carnarvon Gorge; the stunning islands of the Great Barrier Reef; the Whitsunday Islands and Hinchinbrook Island, to name a few.
And if that isn’t enough, Queensland also contains six World Heritage listed preservation areas: Australian Fossil Mammal Sites at Riversleigh in the Gulf Country, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, Fraser Island, Great Barrier Reef, Lamington National Park and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
However the jewel in the crown would have to be the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world, covering 2,000 kilometres. It is actually made up of 3,000 individual reefs and around 2,000 islands. The Great Barrier Reef stretches from Cape York, near East Timor right down to Bundaberg in Central Queensland.
Queensland is divided into eight distinct tourist regions: The Gulf Country and Cape York; Tropical North Queensland; Outback Queensland; The Whitsundays and Mackay; Central Queensland encompassing the Capricorn Coast and Gladstone; Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast; South East Queensland including the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast; the Southern Queensland Country.
The remote and vast Gulf Country covers the southern shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the country surrounding the many rivers that flow into the gulf. It is largely a tropical savannah region covering around 425,000 square kilometres and is renowned for its fabulous fishing.
The main settlements in the region include the towns of Doomadgee, Kowanyama, Karumba, Normanton, Croydon and Burketown. It also includes the catchments of the Mitchell, Gilbert, Staaten and Norman Rivers, that remain relatively undisturbed.
It also reveals a couple of treasures such as Undara Lava Tubes and Mt Surprise, Riversleigh World Heritage Area and
Boojamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park.
Cape York Peninsula is a large isolated peninsula located in Far North Queensland at the tip of the state of Queensland. It is the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia and one of the last remaining wilderness areas on earth. To explore this region it is strictly four wheel drive with challenging and scenic 4WD routes. Most of which are closed in the wet season.
Cape York Peninsula contains the historic town of Cooktown, remote savannah and rainforest clad National Parks and really is the last frontier of Australia.
Wild, unspoilt, and bursting with nature, Tropical North Queensland is home to two World Heritage-listed natural wonders of the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, and one of the most untouched rainforest areas in the world, The Daintree.
The laid-back, tropical centres of Cairns and Port Douglas are major gateways to the Great Barrier Reef. You can stay in one of the many 5 star resorts and pamper and indulge yourself; or explore the reef on a diving boat charter; or take the famous Kuranda Sky Rail or Train into the Cairns hinterland area, Kuranda; or just chill out at one of the stunning beaches.
Townsville is the largest city in North Queensland and is yet another gateway to the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. The region extends from the bustling city of Townsville, north to the Hinchinbrook area, south to Burdekin, west to historic Charters Towers, and encompasses the Palm Islands and Magnetic Island.
Amongst the many attractions in the Townsville region is to stroll the 2.2 km Strand along the waterfront, hike up Castle Hill, discover the military history, visit the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium and explore the magical Magnetic Island and the adjoining Great Barrier Reef.
The Outback is part of the fabric of Queensland’s identity and encompasses the vast interior of the state. Covering an area the size of several small European countries, it’s a hard place to define, but fully worth the effort. It’s one of those true blue Aussie experiences that you have to do!
You can follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs in Winton, grab a beer in a grand old pub in any one of the many country towns, get a real taste of the outback at the Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame in Longreach, visit the place where the Royal Flying Doctor Service was founded in Cloncurry, or party with the locals at bush races.
In the heart of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef lies Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays, that are located about halfway up the Queensland coast. The Whitsundays are the epiphany of paradise, with 74 tropical islands to discover and a world of adventure to immerse yourself in, above and below the water’s surface.
The best way to see these magical islands is to charter a yacht and sail around the pristine waters of the Whitsunday Islands, diving or snorkelling around breathtaking reefs teeming with colourful marine life. A must see is a visit to Whitsunday Island to walk the pure white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach.
Further north the city of Mackay offers something for everyone with art deco architecture, palm-fringed streets, casual alfresco dining, bars and boutique fashion. It boasts beautiful tropical islands and 31 sandy beaches for swimming, snorkelling, fishing and sun bathing. Explore this stretch of coastline and discover the islands’ fringing reef, full of marine wildlife.
Inland of Mackay lies the lush ancient rainforests of Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge, or explore Cape Hillsborough National Park where the rainforest meets the sandy beach of the Coral Sea.
Straddling the Tropic of Capricorn and sitting halfway along the Queensland coast between Brisbane and Tropical North Queensland, the Capricorn region packs in a wide and wonderful selection of holiday experiences. It encompasses the stark beauty of the Sapphire Gemfields in the west, heading east across the Central Highlands and down to the crystal clear island waters of the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the thriving ‘beef capital’ of Rockhampton.
The Capricorn Coast boasts 13 stunning beaches stretching from Yeppoon to Emu Park. Inland, you can see Aboriginal rock art in Carnarvon National Park and the picturesque Rainbow Falls in Blackdown Tableland National Park.
The Gladstone region is the centre of the Southern Great Barrier Reef and gateway to the picturesque islands and reef, including Heron, Wilson, Lady Musgrave and the Capricorn Bunker Group of Islands.
Then there is the postcard perfect coastline of the seaside communities of Agnes Water, Town of 1770, Turkey Beach and Baffle Creek that are untouched, pure and exciting. Imagine yourself swimming in crystal clear waters, unwinding on your own deserted beach, kayaking or surfing alongside turtles and dolphins, sailing or bushwalking.
Explore gracious old buildings and sugar and rum-making history in the town of Bundaberg. Join a diving or fishing trip to Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island, the southernmost coral isles of the Great Barrier Reef. See loggerhead turtles nest and hatch at Mon Repos Beach or visit the laid back beach resort town of Bargara.
Protected by 123 kilometre long Fraser Island, Hervey Bay, pronounced Harvey, includes the coastline between Bundaberg and Maryborough. Here you will discover safe, calm beaches ideal for family holidays. Hervey Bay is known as the ‘whale watching’ capital of Queensland due to its calm tranquil waters and secluded bay, where the whales like to come and frolic in the Winter months.
The sandy straights between Fraser Island and the Hervey Bay coastline create ideal conditions for sailing and fishing. However a visit to the area would not be complete without a trip to the magnificent Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, that boasts World Heritage status. Here you will witness high coastal dunes and cliffs of multi-coloured sand rise above the long, wide beaches. It is a truly spectacular island.
Possibly the most sought after tourist destination in Queensland, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast are in the south-east corner of the vast state.
The Sunshine Coast, a little over an hour from Brisbane, is perfect for an action-packed holiday or quiet escape at any time of year. The Sunshine Coast has four sub-regions, all with their own unique attractions. Pristine beaches stretch for miles, with both safe swimming beaches and spectacular surf breaks.
Soak up sunny sophistication on Noosa’s Hasting Street or catch a glimpse of koalas in the coastal rainforest of Noosa National Park. Get out into nature and ride a mountain bike, abseil the volcanic peaks of Glasshouse Mountains or trek through rainforest in Kondalilla National Park. Feast on seafood on the Mooloolah River in Mooloolaba and relax on the wide beaches of Maroochydore. In family-friendly Caloundra, you’ll find great surf beaches and estuary creeks brimming with fish.
Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland is known as the river city or ‘Brisvega’. In this exciting city you may bike ride along the riverway or in the City Botanic Gardens, or cruise down the Brisbane River on a river cruise taking in the gorgeous city landscape. Otherwise laze in the gardens and lagoons of South Bank, or explore Fortitude Valley’s cafes and boutique shops.
A must do day trip is to take a ferry over to the islands of nearby Moreton Bay, where you can fish, boat, feed wild dolphins and toboggan down the world’s tallest sand dunes.
Stretching along 70 kilometres of coastline with 26 kilometres of golden beaches the Gold Coast is only 60 kilometres from Brisbane. The ‘glitter city’ boasts water sports galore, sports facilities, high-rise accommodation, exciting theme parks, markets, shopping, dining, vibrant night-life and entertainment. The Gold Coast is non-stop action and has something to offer everyone.
Otherwise trek the World Heritage-listed rainforest of the Gold Coast hinterland, where you can plunge into crystal-clear rock pools or refresh and revitalise yourself at rainforest retreats like Mount Tamborine or O’Reillys.
Just 90 minutes drive from Brisbane, the unique region of the Southern Country is the only Queensland destination to offer truly seasonal experiences where you can savour crisp country air, award-winning wines and fresh seasonal produce. Southern Queensland Country is somewhere you can appreciate the spectacular natural wonders, the stories behind historic sandstone buildings, partake in some wine tasting from the vast array of boutique wineries, or just get away from it all with your loved one.
Southern Queensland Country is bordered by western country to the west, South Burnett to the north, Granite Belt to the south, and the Darling Downs to the east. It includes Toowoomba, Kingaroy, Warwick and Stanthorpe.
The area is renowned for its panoramic mountain vistas, spectacular natural attractions, boutique wineries, fertile land and warm country hospitality that can be experienced in the region’s various B&Bs. A great place for a weekend retreat, or to linger longer, to really experience the country vibe.
Until recently this was my home State, the place I lived, and not a day went by that I didn’t count my blessings for living in this paradise. There is something special about living in a place that has it all – the brilliant sunshine, the clear blue skies, the endless stretches of golden sandy beaches, the emerald colours of the hinterland and an absolute smorgasbord of things to do and see. It is true, Queensland is a State of excitement!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Pinky PoinkerAugust 25, 2014
I hope you didn’t come to Townsville without calling in to see me, Kathy!
middleagedmama1August 25, 2014
Hubster and I are thinking of hiring a motorhome and seeing some of these sights next year for our 25th wedding anniversary, if the budget doesn’t stretch to the overseas trip we’ve been dreaming about ;-)
kathymarrisAugust 25, 2014
That’s a good idea Janet. There is certainly plenty of beautiful places on the Queensland Coast, but also the Queensland Outback was interesting. Out of all of the places we visited, I loved Town of 1770 and Hervey Bay. Both places you can reach comfortably within a day trip from Brisbane.
kathymarrisAugust 25, 2014
No we didn’t travel via Townsville. We came across Outback Queensland to Rockhampton, then headed south. I would have looked you up otherwise!
Rae HilhorstAugust 27, 2014
Magic Kathy, lots of memories for you both xxx
KathyAugust 27, 2014
Yes Rae a lot of memories. Now I have to sift through all the photos and put them into a photobook!
joApril 29, 2020
Popped over today from your newsletter (which I love and really look forward to getting!) Wow, this post has just made me want to hop on a plane and come and tour Queensland. I’d love to go up to the far north and revisit some of the places you mention here as well which we’ve skimmed but not delved into. Love your photographs – and thanks for the Iso inspo!
KathyApril 30, 2020
Thank you Jo for popping over! I wrote this post years ago and when doing my research I had no idea of the wide diversity of Queensland. It truly is a remarkable state and we have only explored a tiny part of it. We’re hoping to head off soon to discover a bit more of Queensland. We intend to spend some time around Mackay, Airlie Beach and Bowen, before heading inland to Carnarvon Gorge. I’m sure you would enjoy travelling around Queensland too as its very different to the West.