11 Queensland Trip Ideas

It’s a feeling that has been growing, slowly but surely over the past few months. My job has let me discover the best of the Queensland, the state I lived in for my entire life yet have often failed to notice.

Admittedly, my discoveries occur in an office in the city, using the Internet, email and telephone calls to connect with other places and hear stories from other people about this great state. I plan fabulous trips for journalists & bloggers into regions of Queensland and wait enviously for their account of their trip and their photos.

It began to dawn on me that I had a wealth of unforgettable experiences at my fingertips, just waiting for me to let them happen.

Update: Since I wrote this post in May 2013, I’ve been busy exploring Queensland. I’ve updated the post with links to full blog posts about different adventures mentioned.

1. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef

Most people visit the Great Barrier Reef by visiting the outer reef station, but when I visited in 2014 I wanted to snorkel the reef straight off the beach at Green Island, in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.

Read more: Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef from Green Island

Photo of Green Island Great Barrier Reef Queensland-1Green Island

2. Watch baby turtles hatch at Mon Repo

At the right time of year, from Bundaberg I can witness the miracle of baby loggerhead turtles hatching on the beach and scurrying towards the ocean to embark on their journey around the world, before they one day return to the same beach to lay their own eggs. My family and  I had actually planned to do that this year, but unfortunately violent storms wiped out our accommodation, as well as many turtle nests. I’ll be going next year though for sure.

3.  Island hop in the Whitsundays

The idyllic cluster of 74 Islands are what dreams are made of – the stars of the show are Hamilton, Hayman, Daydream Island, and Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven is the best  beach in Australia, which you can visit on a day trip from Airlie or the other islands.

Read more: Postcards from Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island

Airlie Beach is the gorgeous gateway to the Whitsundays and with day trips to Whitehaven and the Great Barrier Reef available, the area gives visitors enough reasons to spend their vacation there instead of one of the islands at a fraction of the price.

Read more: Whitehaven, The Best Beach in Australia

Whitsundays www.thewanderbug.com

Daydream is the most affordable of the “Big 3.” Hayman & Hamilton compete for the crown of being the most exclusive, with qualia resort attracting the likes of Miranda Kerr and Hayman Island Resort consistently topping lists of the world’s best resorts.

4. Surf & sunshine on the Gold Coast

An hour south of Brisbane is the Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise is the most touristy and popular spot on the coast, Broadbeach offers a from the hustle and bustle of Surfers and a short drive down the road is beautiful Burleigh, a neighbourhood for which my love knows no bounds. The relaxed little hub has all the fish, chips, sun, sand and surf you’ll ever need in a day.

Read more: Whale Watching on the Gold Coast’s Humpback Highway

View over Surfers Paradise from Skypoint, Gold Coast | www.thewanderbug.com

5. Bliss out beachside on the Sunshine Coast

couple of hours driving north from Brisbane will take you to the laid-back Sunshine Coast. Lesser-known with international tourists but locally loved, the Sunshine Coast is a mecca for healthy eating, yoga, stand up paddle-boarding and blissing out on the beach. Bold and beautiful Noosa draws in foodies every year to the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, leaving trendy Hastings Street to take care of hungry bellies and fussy tastebuds the rest of the year round.

Mooloolaba | Beach | Sunshine Coast

6. Cosy winter weekend getaways in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

A short drive inland to the hinterland reveals three popular mountain towns: Maleny, Montville & Mapleton.

Montville was the first on my radar, with its reputation for food, particularly sweet treats. Fudgeries, gelato parlours and gourmet pantries all compete for your attention. Maleny sprouts dairies and farms that yield tasty, fresh local produce for the surrounding cafes and restaurants.

Strawberry Fields, Palmview. Sunshine Coast | www.thewanderbug.com

Update: I had my perfect foodie weekend at Montville in 2014. Read about strawberry picking, the best food and our lovely accommodation.

7. Chill out on Magnetic Island

If only I flew a few hours north I could arrive in laid-back Townsville, visit a turtle hospital and the HQ Reef Aquarium and then hop onto a short 25 minute ferry ride to land on the dazzling Magnetic Island, with the largest population of koalas in Northern Australia.

When we visited Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island, we had the beach almost completely to ourselves!

{ Read more } Postcards from Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island | www.thewanderbug.com

Magnetic Island | www.thewanderbug.com

8. Tropical North Queensland: Cairns, Port Douglas & The Great Barrier Reef

If I was feeling really adventures I could reach the shores of Tropical North Queensland. Cairns, Port Douglas, Mission Beach, Palm Cove, Cooktown and Cape Tribulation spoil visitors for choice.

Cape Tribulation is the only site in the world where two World Heritage listed areas collide. The Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef on the beach.

{Read more } Cape Tribulation: The Only Place in the World…

Cape Tribulation | TNQ | www.thewanderbug.com

Port Douglas is a stylish resort town, with the beautiful four-mile beach. It’s an hour north of Cairns, so you can visit overnight or stop in on a day trip on your way to Mossman Gorge, the Daintree or Cape Tribulation.

{ Read more } Postcards from Port Douglas

Port Douglas, Australia | www.thewanderbug.com

{ Read more } Itinerary: One Week from the Whitsundays to Cairns

{ Read more } Budget: One Week in Tropical North Queensland

9. Experience REAL Autumn in Southern QLD Country

Most of Queensland knows only two seasons: Summer and Winter.

This isn’t so for Southern Queensland Country, only a few hours drive from Brisbane.

Not to be confused with “The Outback”, the Queensland countryside beckons for a short winter escape where comfort is king.

Warwick, the roses & rodeo capital of Queensland, is a proud old town with wide streets, colonial-style buildings and citizens with big hearts & creative minds who dress up the trees on the town’s main street in craftily knitted jumpers every winter during the annual Jumpers & Jazz in July festival.

Warwick | www.thewanderbug.com

The area is perfect for a weekend escape or Sunday drive, with beautiful vistas and charming country hospitality around every corner.

{ Read more } One Perfect Day in Southern Queensland Country

Spring Creek Mountain Cafe | www.thewanderbug.com

10. Marvel at The Outback

It’s not all about Alice Springs, Uluru & the Red Centre. Queensland’s own outback is a colourful region bursting with quirky personalities and even quirkier festivals. The Outback Dunny Races, the Windorah Yabby Races and the iconic Birdsville Races draw droves of tourists & locals alike every year.

Redder than red in Outback Queensland. Image courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

Redder than red in Outback Queensland. Image courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

The Outback is full of vast, open plains, sand dunes ( most notably, Big Red – good luck) , friendly locals and endlessly starry skies all creating scenery that has to be seen to be believed. Or, so I think. It looks so amazing in pictures, but I can’t grasp the enormity of these spaces until I experience it myself. So, I’ll add the Outback to the list too.

11. Mini break escapes to Brisbane’s islands

Moreton Island is one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever visited, and it only around an hour by ferry from Brisbane. You can camp or stay in small apartments or resorts on the world’s third-largest sand island. You can see dolphins at Tangalooma Resort, but if you have a 4WD you’ll be able to explore the island at your leisure – just be careful not to get bogged!

{ Read more } Postcards from Moreton Island

Moreton Island

Stradbroke Island is also within arm’s reach, just 20 minutes away from Brisbane by ferry. It is the world’s first Slow Island, beloing to the Slow movement that sparked Slow Cities, Slow Food and many other organisations in favour of the deceleration of time to slow down & enjoy the sweeter things in life. It’s fair to say that Stradbroke is an island that can’t get much more relaxed.

{ Read more } Stunning Stradbroke Island

Stradbroke Island

If you’re still with me, perhaps now you’ll understand why I’m yearning for a Queensland holiday. You might even agree with me, that I just might live in the best state in the world – after all, The Best Job in the World originated here first, and several years later we were still receiving applications.

I’m currently saving like crazy for a five-week adventure overseas, which will take me through France, Italy, Greece & Turkey. I’m incredibly excited, but already I’m itching to come home and start planning a trip in Queensland.

Update: Read my Itinerary & Overview of  5 Weeks in France, Italy & Greece, or read my travel journal for the trip.

Where is your dream holiday in Queensland?

  • Amazing pictures and tips – if you had to recommend one thing, what would it be?

    • Hard to say! This is a wish list, so apart from the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast I haven’t been to the other places.

      My pick though would be tropical North Queensland ( cape tribulation, cairns, port Douglas, daintree), because of the stunning natural environment 🙂 and it’s not far to the Whitsundays from there, so it’s a good area!

      For a bit more city life, I’d recommend Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast 🙂 thanks for stopping by!

      • Thanks! I’m really keen to visit Oz and some stage, and N Queensland definitely sounds worth it 🙂

  • Hey, this makes me miss my adopted home. Back in July and I should plan myself a Queensland trip too. When exactly is this Jumpers & Jazz July festival in Warwick?

    • 18-28 July 2013. Southern Downs (Warwick) and Granite Belt (Stanthorpe) looks to be such a beautiful area!

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