And, Queensland is massive, stretching from Australia's northernmost mainland point at Cape York Peninsula all the way south to Brisbane and the Gold Coast almost 3,000km away. With all that being coastline, there are understandably some magnificent beaches, complemented further by the 2,000 islands that dot the Coral Sea and make this Australia's water wonderland.
Ruling the roost in the south, Brisbane is a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant music and bar scene, incredible restaurants featuring the best seafood this part of the world can offer, and a relaxed lifestyle that other Australian capitals can only look on at with envy. But, in addition to being a great destination itself, it's a jumping off point for an amazing number of attractions squeezed into the south-east corner of the state. The Gold Coast to the south offers highrise living & resorts, endless golden beaches and the surfie culture that defines this part of the world. Moving north, the more laid back and less developed Sunshine Coast takes you to the very chic surfing playground of Noosa. With a side-trip to the nation's most popular zoo at Australia Zoo, there's more than enough to keep you occupied for a couple of weeks in this tiny corner....and that's just scratching the surface.
Arguably, Queensland's biggest ticket items are further to the north. Stretching over 2,300km off Queensland's coast, the Great Barrier Reef is by far the world's largest reef system, and a must-visit on any Queensland itinerary. The best way to experience the wonder of the reef, a day of snorkelling celebrates the brilliant colour and wildlife of this rare ecosystem. Right in the middle of the reef, the white sandy beaches and azure blue seas of the Whitsunday Islands offer the greatest island-hopping, yacht exploration and beach-grazing that Australia has to offer. Just pick an island or two and you're set for a week or more.
Deep in the heart of tropical north Queensland, and back on land, but still hugging the coastal edges, Daintree National Park is Australia's ecological heartland. Possessing the lion's share of animal and plant species that inhabit Australia, the Daintree is home to the world's oldest rainforest, and features prehistoric animal and plant species unlike anywhere else on the planet.
All this is accessible from the two major centres for accommodation and exploring. The larger of the two, Cairns, is the premier jumping off point for exploring both the Reef and the Daintree, and serves up a great array of accommodation, from hostels serving this backpacker hot-spot, to typical high quality resorts. Smaller, and more laid back (though Cairns is still pretty chilled), Port Douglas is a major dive centre for the Reef, serves up some amazing resorts, and is renowned for its high quality restaurants.
Queensland has a holiday escape for everyone, from its pristine beaches and amazing aquatic features to rainforests and an interior worth exploring that we've barely touched on here. And, all in a wonderfully relaxed and laid back environment with a climate to die for!
Image by Martin Valigursky, Shutterstock
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