Queensland has over 4,000 miles of stunning coastline and is home to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, however, there is so much more to Queensland than just the reef.
Starting in the north of The Sunshine State and travelling south these are Destinology's Top 10 recommendations for experiences away from the reef.
1. Port Douglas and Daintree National Park
Port Douglas is known for its beach location and as a base for visits to the Great Barrier Reef, The Daintree National Park, a biodiverse rainforest, and curving south, is Four Mile Beach.
For something other than reef take a cruise on the Daintree River, known locally as Julaymba, through the mangroves and wetlands on a search for crocodiles. Most trips have an experienced guide who knows the crocs best hiding places and can point out other native camouflaged wildlife. The Daintree River is north of Port Douglas.
2. Cairns and Barron Gorge National Park
Cairns, all be it a laid-back town, is filled with adrenaline pumping activities to test anyone’s sense of adventure.
If White-Water Rafting is on your bucket - list then we recommend you take to your dinghy here. Available are Grade Two and Three rapids including the charmingly named Rooster Tail in the Barron Gorge National Park, North West of Cairns.
If that is not dangerous enough to rock your boat! try the Tully River, south of Cairns, where the rapids are graded three and FOUR.
3. Mackay and Eungella
Mackay itself is known for its Art Deco buildings, Harbour Beach, and Bluewater Lagoon – a city water park.
Inland you will find Eungella National Park one of Australia’s most ecologically diverse parks. It is home to Eungella Dayfrog, Eungella Spiny Cray and the Aussie icon the Duck Billed Platypus. The Platypus is a solitary and shy creature who forages for food around dawn and dusk. Bush Walk to Broken River, where there are viewing decks to increase your chances of seeing this unlikely creature – a hodge-podge of duck, beaver and otter.
4. Rockhampton and Canarvon Gorge
Canarvon Gorge situated inland from Rockhampton, within the Central Highlands, is a marvel of beauty and diversity. Natural architecture has been created over tens of thousands of years by running water and now pathways run through crevices into gorges which have chasms as deep as 60m hidden inside them.
A visit here must include the ‘Art Gallery Walk’ a spectacular display of Aboriginal rock art. The easy walk includes a 62m long sandstone wall featureing 2000 engravings, ochre stencils and free hand paintings. Within the drawings you can find boomerangs, stone axes, shields and assorted animal tracks.
5. Hervey Bay and Fraser Island
Hervey Bay is situated in Southern Queensland and is most famous for being a hub to Humpback Whale watching during the months of July to November. It has a waterfront esplanade that links to the city’s marina and beaches and offers calm water for swimming.
From Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, a World Heritage site, is a must visit. The island is the largest sand island in the world that has rainforests that grow in the sand and crystal clear fresh water creeks and lakes. Expect to see wallabies, foxes, turtles and the infamous Australian dingo and look out for possums, flying foxes and echidnas. It is strictly 4WD territory so take an organised tour or stay on the island and explore on foot.
6. Caloundra and Golf
Caloundra, south of Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast has stunning coastal paths and board walks which lead to scooter-happy trails, picnic spots and playgrounds. Kids will love it here. There is an ocean front, salt water swimming pool and a gently beach break protecting swimming areas.
A visit to Caloundra isn’t complete without a game of golf at Pelican Waters Golf Club one of the first designed by the Great White Shark himself – Greg Norman. The course is 18-hole, Par 72 and has 66 bunkers.
Also, within a 1 hour drive are Caloundra Golf Course, Glenview Par, Beerwah & District and Woodford Golf Club.
7. Brisbane and Story Bridge
Brisbane is a city of breakfast lovers, so a visit demands a good Aussie treat. Try Aussie Pancakes with fruit and honey, or if feeling healthy an Acai Bowl. Try the City Reach Boardwalk or around the Eagle Street Pier ferry terminal and then you can overlook the River whilst you fill up for your day.
In Brisbane you must take to the dizzy heights of Story Bridge and undertake the Adventure Climb. 360° views of the Glass House Mountains, Moreton Bay and the Scenic Rim Mountains as well as the city skyline. The Story Bridge is the only bridge climb in the world where you can abseil down.
8. Tamborine Mountain and Glow Worm Caves
In-land from Brisbane is Tamborine Mountain – breath-taking scenery and clean and clear mountain air. The area has a strong cottage industry, so souvenirs and gifts are a plenty. Take the ‘Gallery Walk’ a shop-a-holics dream amble through 60 art, craft, gift and nick-knack shops. You will also find culinary delights including local fudge and chocolates.
Activities are also a plenty. Rainforest Skywalk, Mountain biking on the Guanaba Experience and Tree Top Challenge are for the adventurous, but we recommend ‘Glow Worm Caves’ Walk through the rain forest past waterfalls on a raised boardwalk and enter the amazing caves, homes to thousands of glow worms who thrive in this specific environment.
9. The Gold Coast and Theme Parks
The Gold Coast south of Brisbane is home to Surfer’s Paradise, a playground for everyone. The foreshore, overlooking the sand and surf, is bustling throughout the day with walkers, cyclists and skateboards, at night there are beachfront markets, dining venues and bars.
Australians head to the amusement and theme parks and so should you.
Warner Bros. Movie World - Justice League 3D -The ride tops the bill, grab your laser and join Batman and Superman in a battle against alien spores. The Green Lantern has the steepest drop in the world if you dare.
Dreamworld - kids rub shoulders with the characters from Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda and thrill seekers can take to the Tower of Terror II.
Wet’n’Wild -the ‘Constrictor’ water slide has the tightest turns in the world and the ‘Aqualoop’ drops you through a trapdoor sending you into a massive vertical free fall.
10. The Granite Belt and Strange Birds
South-west of the Gold Coast on near the New South Wales boarder you will find the Granite Belt. In 1905 the area was described by the Queensland Government as the ‘health spa’ - 1000m above sea level the sky seems bluer here and there are four distinct seasons and sometimes snow.
This is Queensland’s premier food and wine region. Yummy!
Take the Strange Birds Wine Trail. Strange Birds is how they describe the alternative wine varieties grown in the area and cellar doors offer friendly wine experiences and sampling. At some vineyards you can stroll through the vineyards guided by vignerons who will explain the grapes – Verdelho, Pinot Gris, Sagrantino, Viognier and Muscat to name only a few. Vineyards often have their own delis, cafes and restaurants serving foods from the region, if not you will find something delicious to devour in towns along the route.