It’s hard to describe the vast variety of natural beauty that is Queensland, the northeastern state of Australia. Here is where you can be enveloped by the jungles of a tropical rainforest, sink your toes into the pillowy soft sand of world-famous beaches, kayak through the Noosa Everglades, explore the Australian Dinosaur Trail (home to some of world’s best-preserved fossils from those millions of years ago) and dive or snorkel around one of our world’s greatest treasures – the Great Barrier Reef.
You can’t go wrong with exploring any of Australia – but there’s something special about Queensland.
Most international flights will fly directly to Cairns Airport, right on the coastline of the Coral Sea and the closest option to the Great Barrier Reef. Other international airports are located in Brisbane and Townsville. Townsville about four hours south of Cairns, while Brisbane is in the very southeastern tip of Queensland, near Australia’s famous Gold Coast and approximately a 19-20 hour drive from the Great Barrier Reef. Unless you plan to stay in the urban glamour of Brisbane and the glamourous beaches of the Gold Coast, we recommend flying into Cairns or Townsville for easier access to some of the wonderful natural environment in Queensland.
* Traveling tip: Turtle season is November through March, in the middle of Australia’s summer. (Nesting will be earlier in the season, while eggs begin hatching in January and can go on through April.)
Where to stay
Whether you’re looking for ecofriendly yet luxurious rainforest lodging, or glamourous urban stays with all of the amenities, you’ll find something that perfectly suits you in Queensland.
Again, since you’re there to get the most out of the natural environment, we recommend staying around Cairns or Port Douglas (the northern portion of Queensland).
There are also some islands along the coastline with varying accommodations, including camping.
What to do
The Australian Dinosaur Trail takes you through five spots across Queensland, and could easily take 4-5 days as you drive a loop around the state. It features Winton, the “Dinosaur Capital of Australia,” where you can stop at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and view the only recorded evidence of a dinosaur stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park. There you’ll find more than 3,000 footprints preserved in stone forever. (Jurassic Park fans – this is what inspired that iconic movie scene!)
Just two hours north of Cairns, the Daintree Rainforest is the oldest tropical rainforest in the world, serving as the inspiration behind the vivid jungle scenes in the movie Avatar. There are plenty of hiking trails and ziplines where you can enjoy the flora and fauna up close. Cruise operators will take you along the Daintree River for glimpses of saltwater crocodiles. Aboriginal guides are available to hire for guided tours. Renowned environmentalist Sir David Attenborough himself called this “the most extraordinary place on Earth.”
And of course, we have to mention the Great Barrier Reef. There are plenty of ways to enjoy this natural wonder, from deep diving to taking seaplanes for a bird’s eye view. Michaelmas Cay and Agincourt Reef provide plenty of opportunities to take the boat out to prime snorkeling or diving spots, with boats on Agincourt Reef able to take you right to the edge of the Great Barrier Reef itself. You’ll be dazzled by this colorful underwater paradise.