Queensland

Queensland Travel Guide

Introduction

Occupying the northern half of Eastern Australia, Queensland is this country’s sun-soaked playground. From the ritzy beach condos/hotels of the Gold Coast to the backpacker haven of Cairns, there are plenty of places to play in this vast state.

While snorkelling, diving, and surfing will occupy the time of many visitors here, there are restored mining towns, penal colony-era prisons, and modern art galleries to occupy culture vultures as well.

Cultural Attractions

Begin your cultural exploration of Queensland by taking in the Gallery of Modern Art. Located in the trendy South Bank district of Brisbane, this breathtaking structure focuses on contemporary art created in Australia, Asia, and the South Pacific.

With interactive displays coupled with exhibitions featuring acclaimed artists such as David Lynch, this is a great place to kill a couple of hours if the weather washed away one of your planned beach days.

Before it became an exciting place to start a new life far away from home, Queensland and the rest of Australia was regarded little more than a dusty penal colony by Mother England. Learn about what life was like during those days by paying a visit to the Boggo Road Gaol.

Situated in the suburbs of Brisbane, this Victorian-era jail was a dastardly place to be locked up, as torture was common, and executioners were paid extra to give doomed prisoners lashings before hanging them at the gallows. There are many stories of hauntings in this place, so keep your eyes out as you wander around – you never know what you might see!

On your way to Cairns in North Queensland, you’ll pass through the city of Townsville. This settlement was one of many that were fortified against a feared attack during the days when the English were engaged in an armed conflict with the Russian Empire.

To defend against this possibility, the Kissing Point Fortification was constructed in the 1880s. Later renamed the Jezzine Barracks, it is both a site with military and community significance. From authentic guns which were never fired in any war (despite Japanese sub attacks elsewhere on the East Coast) to art sellers hawking Aboriginal-created pieces, it is a can’t miss highlight of a visit to Townsville.

Looking for to insert a bit of history and culture during your time in Cairns? Rent a car and head 90 minutes inland to the Historic Village of Herberton. While this former tin mining outpost no longer houses the people who used to mine the riches of its nearby hills, the style of that era lives on in perfectly restored buildings contained within its 16-acre townsite.

Sample some billy tea and damper in a cafe, buy some throwback toys for your kids, or just stroll the streets in this frontier town and soak in the beauty of the Atherton Tablelands – no matter what you choose to do, Herberton is a great place if you wish to take a break from the Great Barrier Reef.

Other Attractions

After departing Brisbane, those wanting to immerse themselves in the best natural surroundings Queensland has to offer will want to spend several days on Fraser Island. The world’s largest sand island at over 120 kilometres long and more than 20 kilometres wide, there is plenty of wild deserted coast for you and your travel party to explore.

Roll up to the rusted wreck of the Maheno in a 4×4, or swim in the safe, crystalline waters of Lake Mackenzie. When the time comes to return to the mainland, though, you may struggle to find the will to leave this spectacularly beautiful place.

It can be hard to give the title of the world’s most beautiful beach to any one contender, as there are so many worthy competitors around the globe.

Upon first sighting Whitehaven Beach, however, you might be tempted to end this evaluation process on the spot. Its silica-based sands are brilliantly white, and they create a shade of aquamarine water so vivid, your friends will never believe you when you swear you didn’t Photoshop it.

Thankfully, access to this beach is controlled, ensuring this gem of the Whitsunday Islands will never be overly crowded, even in the heart of peak season.

If you headed to Cairns, chances are you are going there to snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef. While this massive shield of coral extends for well over a thousand kilometres down the coast, the best excursions are available from this tourist town.

With the reef under strain from climate change, the time to see it is now, as bleaching continues to wear down the brilliance of its corals. Stingrays, sea turtles, and sharks are often sighted in this waters, so marine life lovers will want to ensure this attraction has a central place in their Queensland travel itinerary.

Daintree National Park is another popular attraction for visitors to the Cairns area. A lush rainforest which descends from the mountains of the Great Dividing Range to the sea, there is plenty of excellent hiking, zip lining, and crocodile hunting to be had in this park.