5 Places to Visit in Queensland
Guest Post from Thrifty Family Travels
Melissa is the creator and writer for the Thrifty Family Travels website; which details her family’s travels both locally and across the globe. Together they travel the world, experience new cultures, indulge in local delicacies, and explore every corner of our beautiful earth, navigating their way around the world. Thrifty Family Travels hope to inspire other families to travel and to show them all the fantastic places the world has to explore.
If you are visiting Australia, Queensland should be at the top of your list! As the slogan goes, “beautiful one day, perfect the next” with the beautiful warm sunny weather, stunning beaches, Great Barrier Reef, tropical rainforest and countless animal encounters, there is something for all types of travellers. In this post Melissa, who has lived in Queensland her entire life, shares with us some of her top places to visit in Queensland.
Being Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane is normally the starting point to most visiting Queensland. It is a great gateway to the gorgeous beaches of the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast and of course the famous Gold Coast theme parks and attractions (Dreamward, SeaWorld, Wet and Wild, Movie World and White-Water World and not forgetting the Famous Steve Irwin Zoo).
Brisbane City itself is worth a visit for a few days, as there is a lot to see and do, and many of the main tourist attractions are free which will save on your travelling purse strings. You can visit museums, art galleries, cruise the river, swim, take guided tours as well as get around the city completely free of charge.
One of the most frequently visited attraction in Brisbane is the South Bank Parklands. If you are visiting in the warmer months you will absolutely love the Streets Beach which is a man-made beach. There are also lagoon style swimming pools, rock pools to cool down in and great grassed areas to sunbath and relax with a picnic and a river view backdrop.
In addition, outdoor cinemas pop up in the warmer months which you can bring your own food and drink to. On the streets of Southbank there are many cafes, restaurants and bars all with great atmospheres, decor and food. Another great attraction to Southbank every Friday to Monday are the Collective Markets that are set up in the centre of the Vibrant Southbank streets, showcasing locally handmade, art, crafts, jewellery, candles, clothes and much more.
And of course, as with all cities there are plenty of shops to quench your shopping urges in the CBD, and you never know you may win a small fortune at the Treasury Casino, to finance your shopping spree.
Within walking distance to the CBD are the Botanical Gardens, or you can choose to jump on the free loop bus that stops on Alice street. In these gardens you can relax and unwind and take in the oasis of well-kept plants, lily ponds and wildlife. The lily ponds have their own little family of water dragons sitting nearby and the top lagoon has a variety of birds. There are also many great walking trails, such as the bamboo trail around the perimeter of the gardens or enjoy the sights of the Brisbane River from the mangrove trail.
North of Brisbane, stretching from Caloundra to north of Coolooa is the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Queensland is well known as having some of the best beaches in Australia and I would even argue that we have some of the best beaches in the world- Many of which are on the Sunshine Coast. A variety of little beach suburbs like Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Coolum and Noosa make up the Sunshine Coast.
Whilst you could easily spend your entire holiday without leaving the beach, there are plenty of other places to explore.
Located between Caloundra and Maroochydore are the beautiful calm waters of Currimundi Lake. You could easily spend the entire day here enjoying a picnic having a BBQ or grabbing some fish and chips nearby whilst relaxing and soaking up the rays and having a dip in the shallow calm waters.
The Eumundi Markets 20kms west of Noosa Heads is one of the largest artisan markets in Australia and is held every Wednesday and Saturday. You can get here by car, tour or shuttle busses or you can use public transport. At the markets you can purchase all sorts of goodies including clothes, essential oils, jewellery, plants, tea, sculptures, etc and not to mention some delicious food.
The Great Beach drive is a 380 km beach route, only suitable for 4WD; which starts at the Noosa North Shore and goes all the way up to the world heritage listed Fraser Island. Along the route you will drive along some of the world’s most stunning beaches and through gorgeous National Parks. The area is home to stacks of wildlife including kangaroos, whales, turtles, dingos, dugongs, platypus and birds. If you don’t have your own 4WD drive, there are plenty of tour groups which you can join to experience this beautiful drive. Tour groups usually stop for swimming and wildlife spotting along the way.
Noosa is not only a beautiful part of the Sunshine Coast, but with the Noosa National Park, Main Beach and Noosa River, it is a great place to get out and about in the great outdoors.
The Noosa National Park offers both picturesque coastline as well as a variety of walking tracks from easy to moderate, through the rainforest and along the gorgeous coastline. Walking tracks start from a few hundred metres to 5.4 kilometers. Some of the best Noosa beaches can be found in the Noosa National Park, such as Tea Tree Bay, Winch Cove and Granite Bay. Just outside the park you will find my favourite Noosa beach – Little Cove.
The calm crystal-clear waters of the Noosa River are ideal for getting out and exploring in a kayak or SUP. You can bring your own or hire your own or join a tour group. If you paddle right out to the mouth of the Noosa River, you will find many sand islands where you can hang out on your own deserted island for as long as you like. There are also several pathways around the area perfect for biking, walking and running.
Pristine beaches and natural wonders, fabulous attractions, and events no wonder the Sunshine Coast is the ninth most popular urban area and tourist destination in Australia.
Queensland’s largest second city and 6th largest city in Australia, stretching 66kms south of Brisbane to the northern border of New South Wales. Comprising of several different suburbs and long sandy beautiful beaches, inland canals / waterways, surfing spots, theme parks, hiking trails and national parks. Not to mention its nightlife, shopping centres, boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and sporting events. You can see why this is such a popular destination for tourists and Australians alike.
There are 17 different beaches to choose from stretching the length of the Gold Coast, from the northern end of The Spit to the southern beach of Rainbow Bay. In between to name only a few are the gentle calm waters of Burleigh Beach in the cool little beach town of Burleigh heads; or the quiet and clean stretch of Coolangatta Beach to the iconic entertainment destination of Surfers paradise with its Highrise buildings and world-renowned skyline. As you can imagine there are certainly enough beaches, beach suburbs, events and nightlife to keep you busy for days even weeks. However, there are plenty of other things to do and explore in this popular region.
If you are looking for some fun and excitement while staying on the Gold Coast, then why not head to one or all the famous Gold Coast theme parks such as Dreamworld, Paradise Country, Sea World, Warner Brothers Movie World, Wet n Wild Water World and Whitewater World. If you would like to visit all of them over a few days, buy a joint pass which will save you money on entry costs.
For the less adrenaline rush activities, why not Plan a trip to see lush rainforest, panoramic views and flowing waterfalls in one of the national parks accessible from the Gold coast, such as:
- Springbrook National Park, with breathtaking views, lush rainforest, and waterfalls. Capture the flowing water stream at the Natural Bridgeor enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Springbrook Plateau. Home to native wildlife and 4 sections of walking trails with stunning lookouts. This is a great day trip not to be missed.
- Lamington National Park, enjoy over 160 kilometres of walking trails scattered with waterfalls, ancient fauna and flora throughout.
Queensland’s star attraction is the stunning region of Far North Queensland considered the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, hence why most people come here to experience the Reef. There are a variety of options here. You can just spend the day snorkelling the reef, some tours will take you to a pontoon stationed out in the reef where you can join in glass bottom boat rides as well as snorkelling. Other options are to join a tour which combines a snorkelling trip with some time on one of the stunning islands.
The City of Cairns itself has an esplanade lined with bars and restaurants and a booming nightlife perfect for the merry traveller that wants to unwind and let loose on a dancefloor. There is also a large man-made lagoon to take a dip and relax in or nurse a hangover or two.
However, this city is so much more than just the reef or a booming nightlife, it is also the perfect place to base yourself to explore all the other wonderful attractions of Far North Queensland has to offer such as the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation.
I recommend you hire a car for at least a day or two to explore the area called the Daintree. The Daintree region covers almost 900,000 hectares of tropical north Queensland and is home to the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park. Here you will find lush dense rainforest, crocodile infested waters, cool fresh water streams, pristine beaches as well as the Great Barrier Reef.
Whilst visiting the Daintree you must visit the Mossman Gorge, take a Daintree River Cruise to see crocodiles and other wildlife, the Daintree Discovery Centre and one of the gorgeous Daintree Rainforest Beaches. Cape Tribulation is the remote headland coastal area of the Daintree National Park offering a combination of beaches and rainforest. The rainforest can be explored by guided walks, horse rides self- guided trails and even a flying fox.
Whilst in Cairns I would also highly recommend taking the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway up to the picturesque mountain village of Kuranda. Once in Kuranda there are a variety of attractions to visit including the Butterfly Sanctuary, the Rain Forestation Nature Park, the Australian Venom Zoo, Kuranda River Cruises as well as simply to explore the quaint little village.
Whilst Bundaberg is not usually on most people’s to do list when visiting Queensland – if you like quiet little beach towns with amazingly friendly people than it should be! I particularly recommend a few days in Bundaberg if you are doing a road trip from Brisbane to Far North Queensland.
Bundaberg is located 4.5 hours drive north of Brisbane and is famous for a few things – Bundaberg Rum, the Mon Repos turtles and being the start of the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit Bundaberg during the turtle season which is from November to March if you can, as you will have the opportunity to witness Loggerhead turtles come to the beach and lay their eggs as well as see the baby turtles hatch and scamper down to the ocean. The area of Mon Repos is in fact the largest Loggerhead turtle conversation rookery in the southern hemisphere!
I also recommend you take a trip out see the Great Barrier Reef. The best way is to take a day trip to Lady Musgrave Island. Here as well as getting up close and personal with the reef, you will get the opportunity to see fish, turtles, dolphins and manta rays.
Bundaberg also has some stunning beaches, the most popular being Bargara Beach and the stunning Elliot Heads. Bargara has plenty of accommodation and cafes, so is the ideal spot to base yourself. Elliott Heads is a little isolated though with no accommodation or shops, so best for a day trip.