What are the best places to visit in Queensland? The answer will probably depend on the activities you enjoy the most. Whether it’s going hiking, heading to the beach, visiting theme parks, watching wildlife, or something else entirely, there’s so much to see and do in the Sunshine State.
Let’s say you’re studying in or near Brisbane and have a few weeks’ holidays coming up. Academic breaks provide an exciting opportunity to pack a bag, hop in the car, and see more of the state. Here are some ideas for where to go in Queensland on your next trip away.
The Far North Queensland city of Cairns might be over 1,600 kilometres from Brisbane, but it’s more than worth the travel time. Highlights of this tropical paradise include Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest, alongside waterfalls and river cruises. Here, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the natural environment.
Just off the coast is the Great Barrier Reef — one of the great natural landmarks of Queensland, and the largest reef system in the world. Think bright blue water, colourful coral reefs and schools of fish. Unfortunately, climate change is damaging the reef’s ecosystem. So, tread (and swim) carefully if you do visit. Here are some ways you can help save the Great Barrier Reef when you visit.
Millions of tourists visit the Gold Coast every year, making it one of the most popular destinations in Queensland, and even Australia. Situated just one hour south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is renowned for its long, sandy beaches, holiday atmosphere, and theme park attractions, including Dreamworld and Movie World.
For those not afraid of heights, take a look out over the Gold Coast from the Skypoint Observation Deck at the top of Q1, Australia’s tallest building. Alternatively, for a different kind of adventure, you can head west to explore the Gold Coast Hinterland.
For a similar coastal getaway, try the Gold Coast’s northern counterpart — the Sunshine Coast. Located an hour north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast has all of the Gold Coast’s summery feel and coastal splendour, but even more of a relaxing vibe.
Noosa is one of the most popular destinations for tourists, both from interstate and overseas, but there are quality beaches all along the coast. Alternatively, you could climb the Glass House Mountains, enjoy morning tea at a café up in the Hinterland, or stop by an attraction like Australia Zoo — the home of the late Steve ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ Irwin.
K’gari (Fraser Island)
The Butchulla people are the Traditional Owners of K’gari (Fraser Island). This island is about an hour north of the Sunshine Coast. The largest sand island in the world, K’gari is home to immense natural beauty, from forests and lakes to mangroves and beaches.
Just south of the K’gari is Rainbow Beach, home to massive multi-coloured sand dunes and the ethereal Carlo Sandblow. You wouldn’t be alone in calling Rainbow Beach one of the most unique places in Queensland.
Of the many places to visit in southern Queensland, Toowoomba might not spring to mind straight away. But, Toowoomba is the perfect choice for a budget day trip as a student. A little over an hour out of Brisbane, this city is full of fascinating sightseeing opportunities for both solo travellers and groups alike.
Toowoomba, or the ‘Garden City’, as it’s known, has parks, heritage buildings, and country charm galore. Major attractions include the 4.5 hectare Ju Raku En Japanese Garden, the heritage-listed Empire Theatre, and the historic Cobb+Co Museum.
Located in Far North Queensland, the Whitsundays are a classic holiday destination and one of the more conventional entries on this list. Anyone who enjoys snorkelling, surfing, or shopping — or all three — will be sure to get a thrill from a visit.
With their picturesque, blue water and white, sandy beaches, the Whitsunday Islands adorn many a postcard — and for good reason.
We’ve covered a lot of major city centres and popular tourist destinations on this list. If you’d prefer to explore somewhere that is often overlooked, head anywhere in central or ‘Outback Queensland’. From Charleville and Roma to Longreach and Emerald, you’ll find a range of rural towns with local charm and close-knit communities, each with a story to tell.
Many locals will be more than happy to chat with visitors. You might even be able to learn more about the First Nations history of the local areas. As long as you plan your route and stay vigilant on the country roads, your time in Outback Queensland could prove as compelling as any of the main tourist hotspots.
Photos of Charleville, Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland. Photo of Japanese Gardens courtesy of T&GWSBT.