Queensland (pronounced KWEENZ-land) is the northeastern state of Australia, famous for natural wonders, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest or Fraser Island. With just over a 5 million inhabitants, most of them in the southeast, in or around the capital Brisbane and the Gold Coast resort city, much of the state is uninhabited, or very sparsely populated.
Climate shifts within Queensland; the inland west is desert, the north is tropical with a wet and a dry season, and the south-east is subtropical. In the southern winter, it is a popular getaway for Australians living in the south.
The state has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with two of them shared with another state. Each region of Queensland has at least one, and the sites include the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics of Queensland, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (which is shared with northern NSW), Fraser Island, and Riversleigh (under "Australian Fossil Mammal Sites", shared with Naracoorte in SA). There are also two sites on the tentative list – the first is Bunya Mountains National Park, home of the 10-kilo bunya pine and the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park.
|South East Queensland (SEQ) |
The gateway to the state, South East Queensland contains the capital Brisbane and the vibrant holiday playground of the Gold Coast.
|Central Queensland |
Charming towns, endless sugarcane plantations and a melting pot of coastal and country influences can be found along this stretch of pristine tropical coast.
|Far North Queensland (FNQ) |
Home to Cairns, Port Douglas and the lush Daintree Rainforest, the Far North is an ideal base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
|Outback Queensland |
Wide open spaces stretching the length of the state provide unique experiences, interesting locals, rugged terrain and remote country festivals.
|Darling Downs |
Queensland's agricultural centre has a blossoming food and wine culture and stunning natural heritage attractions.
|Great Barrier Reef (GBR) |
The world's longest reef system is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and consists of more than 2,900 reefs and 900 islands housing unique coral species and marine life.
- 1 Brisbane – the state capital
- 2 Bundaberg – the ginger beer capital of the world, home to the world famous ginger beer company "Bundaberg"
- 3 Cairns – popular holiday spot in North Queensland is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef
- 4 Gold Coast – famous for Surfers Paradise
- 5 Noosa – known for its beaches, an alternate holiday spot to the Gold Coast
- 6 Port Douglas – an alternate gateway to the Great Barrier Reef
- 7 Rockhampton – industrial and agricultural centre of the north, and is the regional centre of Central Queensland
- 8 Sunshine Coast – a budget and northerly alternative to the Gold Coast
- 9 Townsville – colloquially called the Capital of North Queensland
- 1 Boodjamulla National Park (Lawn Hill) – home to Riversleigh, one of the largest fossil deposits in Australia and a world heritage site along with several scenic gorges.
- 2 Carnarvon National Park – known for its impressive landscape and its large amount of rock art
- 3 Daintree Rainforest – the world's oldest living rainforest with lush tropical rainforest of breathtaking beauty including lowland rainforest, swamps, mangroves and beaches – all available via walking tracks
- 4 Fraser Island – World Heritage listed island and the only place on the planet where rainforest grows on sand. Over 120 km long and 30 km across at its widest point. Features a wealth of natural attractions including pristine fresh water lakes, champagne pools, amazing coloured sand formations and a shipwreck.
- 5 Glass House Mountains National Park – according to Captain Cook, they apparently "looked like glass houses"
- 6 Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest living organism, stretching over 2,000 kilometres in length and 348,000 square metres (larger than the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Switzerland combined). Home to tens of thousands of species of brilliantly coloured fish, corals and other marine life including whales, dolphins and turtles.
- 7 Hinchinbrook Island National Park – the largest island on the Great Barrier Reef
- 8 Lamington National Park – the most prominent park of the Qld section of the World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Located in South East Queensland, is the most extensive areas of subtropical rainforest in the world with large areas of warm temperate rainforest and nearly all of the Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest.
- 9 Whitsunday Islands – off the coast in Central Queensland and home to some of the world's whitest beaches.
Known as the Sunshine State, Queensland is about seven times the size of Great Britain, and is larger than every single US state and all Canadian jurisdictions but Nunavut. It offers a diverse array of pristine rainforests, endless beaches, mountain peaks, rangelands and laid-back communities that conjure a southern Shangri-La. Not to forget, Queensland also has its unique Outback culture – something that's not often associated with the state.
Before travelling to Queensland, the first thing you should remember is that Queensland is huge and you will not be able to explore all of it at once – or doing that would be trying to attempt the entire American south in one go. The state stretches from -9° from the equator in the north down south to -29° which is about 2,200 km (1,400 mi) as the crow flies. For those that find it hard to conceptualise, Vancouver in Canada to Tijuana in Mexico is only 1,900 km (1,200 mi) as the crow flies and 2,000 km (1,200 mi) from Florida Keys to Toronto – so more than an entire coastline of the United States except that it's confined to a single state. Even if you visit Queensland as many times as you possibly could, the state is never short of something to offer.
One noticeable distinction that you might notice is that Queenslanders have a strong sense of identity, more so than the other mainland states. That is, someone from Queensland is more likely to say they're from Queensland than Australia. It also means that placenames are more likely to be identified by its state – so you're more likely to encounter "Thursday Island, Queensland", as opposed to "Thursday Island, Australia", per se. The main exception to this is Cairns, which should be no surprise as it's one of the state's major international tourist destinations.
- See also: Indigenous Australian culture
The first people to settle Queensland were indigenous Australians around 60,000 years ago and it is believed that over the course of 10,000 years the entire continent including Queensland was subsequently settled. How they came is not exactly known, but it's likely they came via boat or land bridge across Torres Strait (the Torres Strait was land before the last ice age), and became divided into over 90 different language groups.
Starting around 25,000 BC, when the Ice Age began, large areas of the area were temporarily uninhabitable. With the end of the Ice Age around 15,000 BC, humans and animals spread across the land again. There were many semi-permanent indigenous settlements, especially along the coast, but also in the mountainous areas and inland. The population of the area which makes up Queensland today before the colonisation of Australia is estimated at between 200,000 and 500,000.
The first known European to set foot on Queensland was the Dutch explorer Willem Jansz in what is now the town of Weipa in the Cape York Peninsula in the north in 1606. The state was also explored by Dutch, Portuguese and French navigators. Captain James Cook made his famous voyage along the coast in 1770 by sailing along the east coast of the state. At Possession Island, he had claimed the entire east coast of Australia for Britain.
Queensland became a part of New South Wales in 1824 and was established as a separate colony by Queen Victoria on December 10, 1859. The first elections took place in 1860.
In 2009, Queensland celebrated the state's 150th anniversary and several "Q150" icons have continued to play a vital role into the Queensland today, someway or another.
A founding state in the Commonwealth of Australia, Queensland is a parliamentary monarchy and is divided into 53 administrative regions.
King Charles III is represented as head of state by the Governor of Queensland elected directly by the people of the state, while the head of government is the Premier who is appointed by the Governor but must have the support of the Queensland Legislative Assembly. As of 2022, the Premier of Queensland is Labor Annastacia Palaszczuk who forms an "Executive Council" from among the 93 members of the Queensland Legislative Assembly.
The 89 elected MPs of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland are responsible for legislation. Queensland is the only state in Australia with a unicameral system with the members of Queensland's Legislative Council, formerly the state's lower house, having voted to abolish the body themselves in 1922. Other ministers are appointed by the Governor from among the members of the Legislative Assembly on the recommendation of the premier.
In 2001, the state passed a new constitution, repealing most of the various Acts of Parliament that had previously built the constitution. The new constitution took effect on June 6, 2002, on the anniversary of the formation of the independent colony of Queensland upon the signing of the Letter Patent by Queen Victoria in 1859.
Queensland is largely located in the tropics meaning that the further north you go, the temperature difference between summer and winter becomes more a case of rainfall. The dry season is from April to October and is usually the best time to explore North Queensland as the roads are very passable (particularly in July and August) and is cooler in Brisbane and Surfers Paradise and therefore winter is the recommended season for the entire state. It's hardly cold but mostly in the mid-20s but this is subject to region – some parts in the north can go to the low 30s during the winter, but you need to remember that most of Queensland is within 28 degrees from the equator.
The rainy season is from November to March and the area north of Townsville is then regularly plagued by heavy rainfall and an occasional cyclone (hurricane) or tropical storm. During this period it can be oppressively hot due to the high amount of moisture in the atmosphere. Flooding also occurs regularly around Innisfail, between Townsville and Cairns and in the area around Rockhampton and Bundaberg.
The area west of the coastline between Brisbane and Mackay is plain barren desert. In summer (November - April) it gets very hot here during the day. Make sure you have enough water with you when you enter this area.
Cyclones and harsh storms regularly hit the state during the wet season. Unless you are going to the southeast of the state during the wet season, Queensland is generally not a place to be during the wet season. Many roads, particularly in the north, are closed for around four months of the year – meaning you could be stranded for months on end.
Queensland is a large, diverse state stretching over 1,730,648 km2 (668,207 sq mi). Driving distances are long but doable if you plan carefully. There are 12 main highways but the coastal route is scenic and offers plenty of diversions.
Queensland is in the UTC+10 time zone, 30 minutes ahead of the Northern Territory. Unlike New South Wales or the other southern states, it doesn't observe daylight saving, so set your watch one hour back when you cross the border into Queensland during summer.
Visitor information centres
Accredited visitor information centres are available for visitor help and advice when travelling around Queensland. For a list of where to find these centres, Visit Tourism Queensland’s Visitor Information Centres page. On top of that, some national parks may also have visitor centres, although this is not as commonly found as other states.
Most of Queensland has an English speaking majority and Queenslanders are known for their classic Aussie slang and accent, often the accent that Australia is internationally recognised for, thanks to Steve Irwin. However, this is not really heard in the southeast, but it is almost always heard once you go out either west or north.
In the Torres Strait Islands, located in the far northern parts of the state, the islanders speak Torres Strait Creole, which is a creole language based on English. It is not easily comprehensible to an English speaker nor is it related to any Aboriginal language (though remember that the Indigenous peoples of the Torres Strait Islands are not Aboriginal) and Torres Strait Creole is more closely related to Tok Pisin and Solomon Islands Pidgin. However, signs are all in English, or bilingual so you will generally not have a language issue.
Most interstate travellers have the choice of flying to Queensland with Qantas, Virgin Australia or Jetstar. Flights to major towns are frequent and regional airports are dispersed throughout the state.
Other airports in smaller towns in Queensland are served by indirect flights via one of the airports above.
- Brisbane Airport is a 15 km or 20 minute drive from the CBD, or about 25 minutes byAirtrain, which also continues on to the Gold Coast.
- The AirTrain runs every 30 minutes from 6AM to 7PM every day and connects to Central station.
- The domestic terminal is separate from the international terminal, but AirTrain provides a 5-minute connection.
- There are shuttle buses which provide direct hotel transfers, and plentiful taxis and hire car providers.
- Both terminals provide undercover parking for short and long term periods.
- Brisbane Airport provides a handy map of flight routes and general timetables.
- Cairns Airport is located 7 kilometres north of the CBD.
- Domestically, Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia all operate out of Cairns, with scheduled services to most Australian state capitals, as well as regional locations.
- Cairns also handles international flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
- Rental Cars can be located at the domestic terminal in the QantasLink arrival lounge.
- Shuttle buses to Cairns and Port Douglas depart hourly.
- Taxis are also available 24 hours a day, and the fare to the city centre costs around $16.
- Short-term and long-term parking is located next to the passenger terminal.
Gold Coast Airport
Gold Coast Airport is on the Gold Coast Highway at Bilinga (close to Coolangatta) on the southern end of the Gold Coast, and is only minutes from the beach. Part of the runway actually extends into New South Wales.
- The airport is 30 minutes’ drive from Surfers Paradise and an hour from Byron Bay. The drive to Brisbane can take an hour and fifteen minutes.
- Jetstar, Qantas, and Virgin Australia all have frequent domestic flights from Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
- Internationally, AirAsia X and Air New Zealand fly in from New Zealand and Malaysia.
- Surfside Bus Lines offer convenient transfers to hotels and theme parks. The free Airport Link shuttle takes you straight to the Gold Coast Highway, where public transport is readily available.
- Car rental companies can be located opposite the check-in counters at the airport.
- Taxis are available immediately outside the terminal.
Interstate Travel Times
- Sydney to Brisbane – 1 hour
- Melbourne to Brisbane – 2 hours
- Adelaide to Brisbane – 2.5 hours
- Darwin to Brisbane – 4 hours
- Perth to Brisbane – 6.5 hours
There are a number of companies that operate bus services between cities and towns throughout Australia, and there are also interstate trains.
Queensland’s wide open spaces make it ideal for exploration by car. The roads are high quality and well-signed so getting here is easy.
- Sydney to Brisbane – 8.5 hours
- Melbourne to Brisbane – 18.5-19 hours
- Darwin to Brisbane – 25-40 hours
- From Melbourne or Sydney, take the coastal Pacific Highway (M1/A1); the more inland New England Highway (A15) through New South Wales; or the inland A32 from Adelaide which also goes through New South Wales.
- If you have time up your sleeve, you can continue taking the coastal route (the Bruce Highway, A1) all the way north to Cairns. The highway is scenic, comfortable to drive and offers plenty of attractions along the way; but you’ll need to allow two to three days for the journey from Brisbane.
- For an alternative entry into Queensland, drive up from New South Wales via the New England Highway (A15) through the Southern Downs. This will take you through Warwick and Toowoomba, towns rich in pioneer history. From here you can continue north to the vineyards of the Granite Belt and South Burnett regions.
- South East Queensland is well-connected with motorways and distributor roads, from the Gold Coast all the way up to the Sunshine Coast.
- Serious outback travellers heading east from the Northern Territory can enter Queensland via Mount Isa on the Barkly Highway (A2); or drive up from South Australia via the Birdsville Track (an old stock route and now a dirt track) and on to Longreach. This journey is recommended in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
It is important to be realistic about the distances and travel times involved: for instance the trek from Mount Isa to Brisbane covers over 1800 km of road - which equates to about 22 hours of continuous driving. See Driving in Australia
If backpacking or on a tight budget, check to see if you can double up with other low-budget travellers who may be driving interstate, or investigate rental car places that sometimes offer deals charging less to return their stock to capital cities.
The XPT service from Sydney is the only interstate service. The trip from Sydney to Brisbane takes around 14 hours; the connecting journey from Sydney to Cairns takes a little less than two days if you choose not to break it up along the way.
The Brisbane XPT train runs once a day from Sydney’s Central station to Brisbane’s Roma Street. The train departs at 4:20PM in the afternoon, travels overnight and then arrives in Brisbane at 6:30AM the following morning. You can also board the train at Strathfield or Hornsby station, at Broadmeadow in Newcastle or at one of the stations along the way.
You can also travel to Brisbane during the day by catching the NSW Trainlink Casino XPT train from Sydney Central station to Casino, then changing to a connecting coach. The bus takes you from Casino via the Gold Coast to Brisbane’s Roma Street station. The whole journey takes fifteen and a half hours - of which only the final three hours are on the bus. The train departs Sydney Central station every day just after 7AM in the early morning, and the connecting coach arrives at Brisbane Roma Street station at around 10:30PM that evening.
- Sydney to Brisbane: 1 sea day
- Brisbane to Whitsundays: 1 sea day
- Brisbane to Cairns: 2 sea days
- Brisbane to New Caledonia: 2 sea days
Portside Wharf is Brisbane’s cruise ship port. It's in Hamilton, 6 km from the Brisbane CBD or about a 20-minute drive. Buses into town and ferries service the port regularly. It also houses a fresh produce market, riverside restaurants, cafés and eateries, boutiques and cinemas. Portside Wharf provides a handy shipping schedule.
There are occasionally ferries from the Torres Strait Islands to Papua New Guinea although the ferries have been halted due to Covid with no reoperation date set.
Air travel in Queensland is easy to organize. With international airports in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and the Gold Coast, plus many regional and island airports, air travel is an efficient and reliable way to get around. Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar and a number of smaller regional carriers operate in Queensland.
- See also: Driving in Australia
The motorways that are not really motorways
Although it defies international standards of what a motorway (or freeways for those coming from the rest of Australia except NSW) should have, a motorway in Queensland does not necessarily have to have two lanes in each direction – something that may surprise anyone coming from outside Queensland. This is particularly reflected in parts of the Sunshine Motorway on the Sunshine Coast, parts of the Bruce Highway in Townsville, the southern parts of the Centenary Highway in SW Brisbane or the Gore Highway section of the Toowoomba Bypass, all of which are identified as motorways (even to the point with "Start Motorway" signs), though they are not really motorways.
Additionally, some motorways have roundabouts contain them. This is becoming increasingly rare though, and the only few left are on the Sunshine Motorway (SR 70) and on the last few kilometres of the Centenary Highway.
Queensland's road network is extensive, especially on the coast. Many inland or outback towns can only be reached by dirt tracks, some of which are only suitable for four wheel drives. Ensure if travelling into the bush or the outback, you take adequate supplies and let others know where you will be going and when to expect you back. The state also has over 600 km (370 mi) of motorways, though all but two are in SE Queensland (and to an extent, the future Bruce Highway upgrade in Curra).
Although the distances may scare you off, the roads in Queensland are generally well maintained. The south-east may be the only region with an extensive motorway network, though in areas outside SE Queensland, you will still be able to travel at motorway-like speeds. Motorways in Queensland are typically marked with an "M" prefix, though some motorways may use a State Route number (e.g. Sunshine Motorway also having the State Route 70 route number) while major highways are marked with either an "A" prefix, or use a National Highway/Route – the former marked in a green and yellow pentagon while the latter with black and white instead. Other smaller sealed routes or urban routes that don't fall in to either of the former two mentioned are marked with State Routes, usually in a blue and white marker.
As with all the other states, the default urban limit is 50 km/h (31 mph) and the default rural limit is 100 km/h (62 mph). The maximum state speed limit is 110 km/h (68 mph), which can be found on most rural highways and motorways.
Distance table (kilometres)
|Weipa||Cairns||Townsville||Proserpine||Mount Isa||Longreach||Noosa||Charleville||Brisbane CBD||Gold Coast|
Queensland Rail Travel offers Australia's largest and most comprehensive network of long-distance trains, carrying more than half a million passengers each year. The dedicated tourism arm of QR Limited, the company offers a fleet of long-distance passenger trains connecting Brisbane to a host of holiday destinations throughout Queensland including Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsundays, Mount Isa, Charleville and Longreach. Each of Queensland Rail's services offer a unique travel experience. The company packages its rail experiences with accommodation, fully-guided tours, cruises, flights and car hire. It operates travel centres throughout Queensland as well as a call centre.
Some of the services offered by Queensland Rail:
- The Spirit of Queensland - Brisbane to Cairns. This train offers spacious seats that transform into lie flat beds, similar to business class on a plane.
- The Spirit of the Outback - Brisbane to Longreach. This train offers traditional sleepers, to the heart of the outback.
- Tilt Train - Brisbane to Bundaberg/Rockhampton. The fastest narrow gauge trains in the world, the Tilt Train provides an efficient, comfortable and modern standard of travel.
- The Westlander - Brisbane to Charleville. A scenic journey from Brisbane travelling across the Great Dividing Range and through the rich farmlands of South East Queensland, before arriving in Charleville, the largest town in the south-west outback.
- The Inlander - Townsville to Mount Isa. A scenic journey from Townsville travelling across the Great Dividing Range and through Hughenden and Julia Creek, before arriving in Mount Isa, the mining centre of the state.
Most of these services depart from Brisbane’s centrally located Roma Street station.
Most of Queensland is serviced by the Translink network. The network stretches from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast and a number of other large towns further north. Visit Translink's website for timetable information, maps and a helpful Journey Planner to get a wide range of transport options. A Translink ticket will take you wherever you need to go within each region.
In regional centres not covered by Translink, qconnect provides public transport services, including buses, accessible taxis and community and subsidised transport. The site maintains a detailed list of Urban Bus Services to be found in each town.
Aboriginal rock art
The place that Queensland's most known for its rock art is the Art Gallery in the Carnarvon Gorge National Park, which contains some of the finest Aboriginal rock art in Australia. Just 5.6 km from the trailhead, at the junction of Kamoloo Creek, a signposted access track leaves the main walking trail upstream of crossing number 10, providing a gentle climb to the escarpment base where the site is located. Boardwalks, interpretive signs and seating facilities provide optimum conditions for visitors to appreciate this diverse range of Aboriginal artwork without endangering it. This extensive gallery contains more than 600 stencils and 1300 engravings. Aboriginal rock art on the sandstone overhangs is a fragile reminder of the Aboriginal people who used the gorge for thousands of years for ceremonies and rituals.
- See also: Queensland national parks
Queensland has the most national parks in Australia, with around 237 national parks. Not all of them are visited, but there's some particular ones that get more visitors than others:
- Glass House Mountains National Park was named by Captain Cook as he mapped the Queensland coast in 1770. The 'Glass Houses' are distinctive volcanic plugs which rise abruptly out of a patchwork of farms and forests. The Glass House Mountains are spiritually significant to the local Aboriginal people. The park is made up of several sections that include most of the peaks and forest areas. Drive to the Glass House Mountains lookout for a great view of the multiple peaks. Within the park's sections there are eight walking tracks ranging from 25 minutes to three hours, and catering to all levels of experience. Fit walkers with rockclimbing skills can reach the summits of Mounts Tibrogargan, Ngungun or Beerwah. Suitably equipped experienced rock climbers can climb and abseil Mount Ngungun.
- Wallaman Falls National Park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, boasting the highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia. Open forest dominates the ridge tops. Rainforest lines the gullies and creeks. The area is home to endangered cassowaries and musky rat-kangaroos. Stroll 800 metres along the banks of Stony Creek on the Banggurru walk, and learn about the rainforest. Look for platypus in the creek below the falls. To enjoy a closer look at the falls, take the 3.2-km Jinda walk into the gorge. Experienced bushwalkers can choose from one of three overnight hikes that are part of the Wet Tropics Great Walk.
- The fossil site in Riversleigh, Boodjamulla National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site along with Naracoorte Caves National Park in South Australia, containing some of the largest deposits of fossils, in particular, that of Australian Megafauna
- Mossman Gorge is a very accessible and scenic section of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park Strangler figs and epiphytic plants flourish and the crystal-clear Mossman River cascades over granite boulders. The area is also home to colourful Boyd's forest dragons. Stroll along the 400-m walking track to viewing platforms over the Mossman River. Look for the brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly and birds such as the eastern yellow robin. Take the 2-km loop track through lush, green rainforest to learn about the plants and find out how the local Kuku Yalanji people use them in traditional ways.
- The Great Sandy National Park in Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island, and is a must for any keen enthusiastic 4WDer. The park is also the only place where forest grows on sand.
- The Undara Lava Tubes in Undara Volcanic National Park is 3.5 hours from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland's Gulf Savannah lies a land so different in contrasts - and the Undara Experience. Undara is a pristine wilderness possessing one of the longest and best preserved lava tubes of its kind anywhere in the world.
Natural and cultural attractions
Queensland has many natural attractions outside national parks, and even though it may not be a "national park", they are very much just as interesting to see.
- The magnificent Moreton Bay - the mouth of the Brisbane river, and home to a collection of islands where boating, fishing, sailing, camping, holidays and day-trips make Brisbane such a brilliant out-door adventure city. Take a guided tour around beautiful St Helena Island, a former jail from when Brisbane was a penal colony. Spend the weekend at Stradbroke Island and surf on magnificent beaches or take the kids to Coochie Mudlo Island for a quiet day out on flat water beaches.
- SS Yongala Wreck - lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, 12 nautical miles from Yongala Dive's base at Alva Beach in Queensland. It sank in 1911 with the loss of all aboard, creating one of Australia's most intriguing maritime mysteries as she lay undiscovered for more than half a century. Lying in 14 to 28 m of water and over 100 m long it is one of the largest and most intact historic shipwrecks in Australia and provides an exciting adventure for divers due to its coral encrusted structure, the depth and the incredible array of marine life.
- Atherton Tablelands - the "capital" of the lovely Tropical Tablelands, a land of beautiful lakes, waterfalls, rich red soil and tropical rainforest. Here the temperature is cooler, the pace is slower and there is a feeling of relaxation in the air. The rich Tableland area is famous for producing peanuts, maize and potatoes. The area also has a number of natural attractions such as the Curtain Fig Tree, Millaa Millaa Falls, crater lakes and amazing rock formations. Atherton is an excellent base from which to explore most places of interest in the Tablelands area.
- See Whitehaven Beach from the air - many commercial airline companies exist that provide flight services over Whitehaven Beach. Enjoy a helicopter flight over Islands and waterways then quality time on a secluded beach in the Whitsunday's and treat yourself with a gourmet picnic hamper and ice-cold champagne. Flight types vary but can include scenic flights to and from the Reef as well as a stop over on Whitehaven Beach, Langford Reef area and a scenic flight over Hook, Hardy's and the famous Heart Reef, then continue near Langford Reef where you can swim and view the breathtaking coral gardens at your leisure with a gourmet champagne picnic hamper.
The coast of Queensland provides visitors first-hand experience to view migrating whales during the winder months. There is various vantage points right downs the coast, but to really get the most for your whale watching experience, jump on board a whale watching tour with one of the many companies. The protective waters of Hervey Bay is the most popular destination to view these gentle giants of the sea. Viewing is generally only throughout July to November.
Nesting Sea Turtles
Many varieties of turtles such as the loggerhead, green, leatherback and flatback nest from October to March each year along the Queensland coast from Bundaberg in the south to the Cape in the tropical north as well on the islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef (Heron, Wilson, Lady Elliot, Lady Musgrave). The Turtle Nesting and Hatching season is an amazing experience and visitors to Queensland will find opportunities to witness these nocturnal events in a controlled environment at a number of island and mainland locations. Near Bundaberg, Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting sea turtles on the east Australian mainland. Viewing is generally only from November to March. You can help conserve turtles by participating in a six-day camp, working alongside the Mapoon Aboriginal owners and researchers as they measure and tag nesting Flat Back and Olive Ridley turtles, fit feral pig exclusion devices to the nesting sites and remove nets from the beach. Viewing is generally only from June to September at Mapoon, Western Cape York.
Great Barrier Reef
The Grave Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is no doubt one of the world's most magnificent wonders of the world. Being the world's largest structure made by living things and is clearly visible from space, what could go wrong here?
Unfortunately, climate change has significantly damaged the reef. As the climate rises, more corals will continue to bleach and it's predicted that more and more coral reefs will continue to bleach. In 2016, the worst die-off ever recorded in the reef occurred and two-thirds of a 700 kilometre stretch of coral were killed.
Ever since then, there have been numerous conservation programs along with funding from the government, to save the coral reefs such as replanting them, and ways of stopping the crown-of-thorns starfish. These can be seen at either Green Island or Fitzroy Island, but also in cities like Cairns too. Although most are, when going on tours, make sure that it's eco-friendly.
Although the Great Barrier Reef has many things to do, the reef itself is something to see in its own right. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, this underwater labyrinth will treat you to spectacular displays of nature found no where else in the world. Stretching from Tropical North Queensland in the north to Capricornia in the south, the rare, ancient beauty of the reef can be enjoyed from many different points of view. On the Whitsundays you can dive amongst the coral on a scuba-diving adventure, or watch the reef come on a purpose-built pontoon. From Townsville you can wonder at its beauty from the comfort of a glass-bottomed boat or view from helicopter joy-flight. On the Southern Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Mackay and Central Queensland you can go snorkelling in a sheltered coral cay, or keep your clothes dry on a leisurely reef walk.
- Underwater observatories - There is no need to get your feet wet. Observe all the wonders of Queensland's marine life from behind the glass of an observatory. Queensland is host to a number of underwater observatories including; Reef HQ - the world's largest living coral reef aquarium and national reef education centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. UnderWater World - a multi-award winning, all weather, tourist attraction located in the heart of the Sunshine Coast.
- Q1 Observation Deck - Australia's only beachside observation deck, located in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. QDeck takes you to the highest point above the city, providing stunning 360-degree views from the surf to the hinterland and beyond. Rising 235 m into the sky, QDeck is on level 77 of the iconic Q1 tower. Your journey begins with an inside look at the construction of this landmark development before boarding one of the world's fastest express lifts which transports you from ground to level 77 in less than 43 seconds. Once at the top, you will see spectacular views which reach on a clear day from Brisbane to Byron Bay.
- See also: Paleontology in Australia
- Australian Age of Dinosaurs - home to the world's largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. A working dinosaur museum and research laboratory on 14,000 hectares of spectacular mesa plateau with vast scenery, wildlife and walking trails. At the museum you'll see and hear about their exciting dinosaurs, including gigantic sauropods and "Banjo", Australia's greatest carnivorous dinosaur.
- The world heritage listed Riversleigh in Boodjamulla is home to one of the largest collections of Australian megafauna.
- For those that find driving to Boodjamulla National Park too much, the Riversleigh Fossil Centre in Mount Isa has a collection of fossils from that area, much more accessible
If there's anything that Queensland is never short of, it's adventure – fly through the air, dive through the coral, or ride the wild river rapids - a Queensland Adventure holiday really gives you something to write home about! With craggy mountain heights to scale, deep limestone caves to delve and vast treks of unchartered Outback to explore, Queensland is a land brimming with surprising discoveries and exciting adventures to enjoy. In Queensland you can learn how to hang glide off a mountain or ride a camel along a golden beach. You can camp by a billabong or feel your adrenalin surge on a real life cattle muster during a farm stay on the Western Downs. From an inflatable jet boat you can watch the whales waltz or take a jet ski eco-safari through the glorious Whitsundays archipelago. Then as the sun sets over the ocean, watch the Reef come alive under the stars, during your overnight stay on a purpose-built ocean pontoon. Treat the whole family to an exhilarating day at a world-class theme park. Feel the rush of the rollercoaster, go behind the scenes of a movie set, and get up close and personal with exotic animals from around the world.
Islands and beaches
Queensland is home to some of the most stunning islands and beaches in the world, and each one invites you to come and share in its sumptuous delights. Set like sparkling jewels in and around the pristine waters of the blue Pacific Ocean, Queensland’s islands and beaches are a true national treasure. On the islands you can treat yourself to a day spa, dive through the Great Barrier Reef, improve your handicap with a round of golf, then, as the sun sets over the water, indulge in fresh, local, mouth-watering food and wine. With sands so clean and white they dazzle the eye, a day spent on a Queensland beach is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures. With palm trees swaying lazily on one side and clear azure waters gently lapping at the other, the siren-call of a Queensland beach is impossible to ignore.
- See also: Australasian wildlife
Watching the sun set over the ocean from the white sands of a deserted tropical beach is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures. Soaking up the view from the crest of a mountain you’ve just scaled is another. And watching dolphins at play in the turquoise waters of a tropical lagoon is a memory you’ll treasure for a lifetime. All these experiences and more are waiting for you in Queensland’s wild natural environments. From the spinifex grasslands of the Outback to the lush rainforests of the Gold Coast Hinterland, Queensland is a nature-lover’s paradise. Breathe in the fresh, clean Queensland air and escape to a world free of phones, emails, meetings and deadlines. In the north, the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest yields to pristine sandy beaches and the clear blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef. In the south, majestic mountains stand guard over the rare flora and fauna within its fold. And in all places in between you’ll find rare and exciting animal encounters that will delight the whole family!
Queensland is host to a large range of events right across the state.
Some of the major events in Queensland include;
- January – Brisbane International Tennis Brisbane
- May – Magic Millions National Sale Gold Coast
- June – World’s Greatest Pub Crawl Maryborough
- July – Wide Bay Australia International Airshow Bundaberg
- July – Gold Coast Airport Marathon Gold Coast
- July – Tara Festival of Culture & Camel Races Tara
- November – Mud Bulls & Music Kingaroy
- November – Bundy Thunder Wide Bay
- Catch The Savannahlander from Cairns to Forsayth - this unique four-day train trip is a great way to see the Australian outback.
- See also: Shopping in Australia
From bargains at the markets to one-off creations at designer boutiques, there’s a shopping sensation to satisfy. For elite high-fashion labels, beat a path to exclusive shopping precincts in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and fabulous Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. There you’ll find exclusive boutiques and fashion to die for! For the quirky and the vintage, you can’t go past the markets of Tropical North Queensland and Brisbane.
If trawling through second hand shops for antiques and collectibles is your idea of the divine, you won’t be able to resist the quaint hinterland villages of South East Queensland Country.
For travellers looking for souvenirs, many small towns usually have one or two gift/souvenir shops, while larger towns will have many. Some QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service) managed parks may also have one or two, but this is not very common. Like elsewhere in Australia or even most of the world, most major attractions will have a souvenir shop at the exit.
- See also: Australian cuisine
Much of Queensland's income is still derived from agriculture, with different regions specializing in different produce. Famous examples include sugarcane in the Whitsundays; peanuts for Kingaroy; and mangoes for Bowen. Fresh local fish can also be found right along the coast, usually sold in fish and chip shops. Brisbane and surrounding areas like the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are becoming very well known for quality restaurants, cafes and take-aways. Whether it's 5 star or fast food you are after there is no need to eat poor quality food in Queensland. With so much fresh food available, seek out boutique and independent operations with a focus on quality and freshness. You won't usually pay more than its worth. Demand for organic food is also growing, as is awareness of variations in peoples dietary preferences, so gluten and dairy intolerant or vegetarian/vegan eaters will often find that choices are available in most places, or can be prepared in the kitchens on request. Pub food in Queensland is no longer just the sad old counter meal variety; if you find a fairly modern pub you'll find a fairly modern kitchen and while you can often still get lunch for $10, generally the low price won't be reflected in the quality. Breakfast is big in Brisbane and markets are particularly good places to go for a local brekkie. Alternatively, you'll find free and clean public BBQ's in lots of the public parks, so bring your own picnic along and enjoy Queensland's gorgeous weather while you cook up your own true Aussie BBQ. To be fair to the other patrons, give the BBQ plate a wipe down after you've finished with some clean newspaper, and place your rubbish in bins provided.
How fresh can it get? Straight from the farmer to you is the latest trend and foodies throughout Queensland are loving the range and quality of local seasonal produce. It pays to get up early with the sun, pack plenty of extra bags and don't forget a cold pack in case some divine seafood or meat takes your fancy. Stroll around the stalls and chat to the farmers, once you get past the weather you'll discover a wealth of information about how to select, store and cook your purchases.
- Brisbane - Head to The Powerhouse at New Farm in Brisbane by at least 7AM on a Saturday morning and you'll discover locals armed with trolley bags snapping up high quality produce and seasonal bargains on a regular basis. On the last Sunday of each month the stallholders move to suburban Mitchelton. If organic is your style the Green Flea Community Markets at Davies Park in West End or the Northey Street Organic Market at Windsor will keep you busy.
- Gold Coast - Foodies are well catered for with the farmers markets at Banora Point, Bundall, The Spit, Miami, Mudgeeraba and Tamborine offering fresh produce.
- South East Queensland Country - Enjoy fresh food right where it is grown on the Southern Downs at the Glengallan Seasonal Farmers Markets, 15km north of Warwick on the first Sunday of each season. Don't forget to look for fresh seasonal produce across the region on road side stalls.
- Sunshine Coast - The Noosa Farmers Market on Weyba Road at Noosaville showcases some of the Sunshine Coast's best produce every Sunday from 7AM to midday. All products are grown, reared, caught, baked or prepared by the stall holder. You'll find farm fresh fruit and vegetables, breads, cheeses, preserves, seafood, red claw, poultry, beef, lamb, coffee and the chance to swap ideas with local producers. The Eumundi Markets are another food lover's delight with everything from fresh produce to taste sensations you'll find hard to resist.
- Central Queensland - Keep your eyes open for roadside stalls just off the farm. This area is the fruit bowl of the Coral Coast and supplies chillies, tomatoes and the sweetest of peas to southern states.
- Mackay - Head for the local showgrounds located in the centre of town for the Mackay Farmer's Market every Saturday morning from 6AM at the Showgrounds. This is the best spot to gather all local fresh produce and freshly cut flowers.
- Tropical North Queensland - Rusty's Markets in Cairns are an experience that should not be missed by market lovers. This is an Asian-type market experience with stalls overflowing with exotic local produce and flowers.
Dining & eating out
Queensland offers visitors some great locations for Dining and Eating. Australian cuisine blends fresh ingredients and uses European culinary traditions and the light touch of Asian seasoning. You'll taste some of the best food in the world and even the most discerning diner will be satisfied, with fresh barramundi, mud crab, exotic crocodile meat, mangoes and macadamia nuts.
The local mass produced Queensland beer is "XXXX", known locally as 'fourex'. The most common glass measure is called a pot, so just about any pub in Queensland will pour you a pot of fourex'.
Rum is also produced in Queensland at the central coast town of Bundaberg. It is creatively called Bundaberg Rum, or 'bundy'.
Wineries, vineyards and Breweries
The burgeoning Queensland wine industry is one of the state's best kept secrets. Find a cellar door near you, or even a microbrewery to your taste. Queensland offers a gourmet paradise with delectable, award-winning wines, organic produce and fresh seafood. Follow a food and wine trail and you'll be sipping on a Chardonnay or rolling a Shiraz around your mouth on a grape-fuelled adventure.
Many accommodation options are available in Queensland for every traveller’s budget. Whether you are looking for a plush five star resort or a cosy Bed & Breakfast thousands of hotels, B&Bs, apartments, resorts and hostels are available to help you find the perfect place for your holiday.
The variety of accommodation available in Queensland is listed below:
- Hotels and Motels - range from warm country pubs to swanky high-rises. Every convenience is available at hotels and motels to ensure your holiday spells relaxation.
- Resorts - luxurious resorts in ideal locations offer comfort and service to world-class standards.
- Bed and Breakfast -experience the warm welcome and the comforts of home at a Queensland B&B.
- Self Contained - self-contained apartments, cabins and holiday houses offer all the conveniences of home.
- Camping and Caravans - camping sites and caravan parks offer the opportunity for you to stay in superb locations, gather with other travellers or relax in complete privacy.
- Backpackers - backpacker accommodation in Queensland is among the best. Enjoy modern facilities at ideally located hostels.
- Farm Stay - farmstay accommodation is as down-to-earth as their friendly hosts. Immerse yourself in Queensland's country heritage.
- Holiday houses are popular in Queensland. Check local papers and local internet sites for availability as they are often privately leased and generally modern and clean.
- The weather in Queensland is often excellent for camping, and there are fantastic camping grounds all over the state with a variety of facilities. These include local council's campgrounds, state conservation parks, state forests and national parks. Some national parks require pre-booking but most work on a 'register on arrival' basis.
- Saltwater crocodiles are common throughout the tropical northern half of Queensland all the way down to Rockhampton. Some people play down the threat to humans posed by the Saltwater Crocodile. The facts are that the Saltwater Crocodile has been protected for decades now and there is a healthy population in northern Australia. It is always best to play it safe as a saltwater crocodile can grow to over 5m in length, and are found both in salt and fresh water. Beaches, rivers, creeks and waterholes can be home to large crocodiles. They are not known to frequent the Great Barrier Reef but instead live in coastal areas and rivers in tropical Australia. Generally, authoritative local advice can direct you to a place to swim which is known to be free of crocodiles or has been cleared of them.
- When swimming at surf beaches, swim on beaches patrolled by surf lifesavers and between the red and yellow flags. Surf conditions can change quickly, and invisible rips can cause problems for even the strongest swimmers. The flags denote the safest area to swim in and the area is monitored.
- If you see signs warning swimmers that "stingers" (poisonous animals) are in the water, read them carefully as some are deadly. Find a pool or use one of the net protected beach enclosures common on many main beaches.
Crime in most of Queensland is generally similar to the other five states, and in most of the south-east, is generally lower than most of the country. Vandalism of cars is low, and the same goes with car break-ins – the only way to prevent it is to avoid leaving valuables visible, and your car should be fine. Pickpockets are rare in the south-east, and even unheard of in some places.
However, things can get pretty bad in the urbanised parts of the north, and cities like Cairns or Townsville have been rated as some of the most dangerous cities of Australia, only behind Darwin, and the most common type of crimes include property crime, assaults and theft. While crime may not be as bad as the Northern Territory where parts of which have a crime rate 30 times more than the United States (as of the late 2010s), it is still something to keep an eye out for. However, like in Darwin, there is not much you can or need to do to prevent crime, and the same usuals can be applied anywhere is the best you can do to keep yourself safe.
Skin cancer is a serious health issue in Australia, and sunburn and sunstroke are related problems. Make sure you wear SPF 15+ sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and t-shirt or long sleeved shirt whenever you can in summer even on cloudy days. Particularly, protect children's skin between 10AM to 2PM, as the summer sun can cause a severe burn that will at best ruin your holiday, and at worst end in a trip to the local hospital. Many media outlets list the UV Index (sun factor) with the weather broadcast. In summer in Queensland expect that the UV Index will be extreme every day.
- Drink water: most locals carry a bottle of water with them at most times in the summer. The humidity can take you unaware, and dehydrate you quickly. Make sure children take regular drinks if they are playing outdoors, and carry water with you on car journeys, hikes or any time you may inadvertently end up somewhere unexpected.
While mainland Australia has been officially malaria free since 1982 (making it the only country in the tropics to be malaria-free), malaria is occasionally found in the Torres Strait Islands. See the Queensland Health and Wikivoyage's article on malaria for more specific details.