If you were told the world was coming to an end, what would be your top 20 things to do in Queensland? Would it be devouring a juicy Bowen Mango? Seeing the mighty Maroons defeat New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium? Or maybe it would be tasting your way around a festival or counting the stars in the night’s sky in outback Queensland? Here’s our list of 20 places to see and things to do before you die (in Queensland). Oh by the way, we’re a couple short so if you have any suggestions please leave a comment and a photo.
See the Great Barrier Reef
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the Great Barrier Reef. The largest living organism on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef, is also the world’s largest reef system. It stretches along Queensland’s coast from the top of the state to Fraser Island. See the reef from a beach. Snorkel, dive or take a scenic flight for an amazing view of this natural wonder.
Walk on Whitehaven Beach
Voted as one of the best beaches in the world, Whitehaven is a picture-perfect postcard of aqua waters fringed by white silica sandy beach. Voted as South Pacific’s Best Beach in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, Whitehaven stretches over seven kilometres on Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays.
Self-sufficient boaties can anchor off overnight and campsites are available for campers. Daily tours depart from Airlie Beach.
Explore Fraser Island
The largest sand island on planet Earth, Fraser Island deserves a day or two as there’s so much to explore. On a must-do list is 75 Mile Beach, Maheno Shipwreck, Champagne rock pools, Indian Head and Eli Creek. Inland don’t miss, Lake McKenzie, Pile Valley, Central Station and the walk along Wanggoolba Creek.
Stand at the tip of Australia
Standing at ‘The Tip’ of mainland Australia in Queensland, the most northern reaching state in Australia is an experience to remember. It can be accomplished on a tour or you can drive yourself there. Day tours offer insights into the history and culture of Horn and Thursday Islands. Learn about the culture, pearl diving and the war base built as Australia’s first front.
Watch the sun setting over a sand dune in the Simpson Desert
Munga-Thirri National Park, formally known as the Simpson Desert, offers a richly coloured landscape. This is where you can see from horizon to horizon and a truly magical experience. The orange sand dunes contrast to the blue sky and yellow flowing salt bushes. As the sun goes down the sand dunes colour ignites. The park is closed during summer. Best time to visit is April to October.
Sail the Whitsundays
The Whitsundays are 74 islands dotted across the Great Barrier Reef off-shore from Airlie Beach. Only a few have resorts such as Hayman, Hamilton, Daydream and Long. But all have sandy beaches, secluded coves and the opportunity to swim, snorkel or dive on the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
See loggerhead turtles, one of the ancient mariners of the sea, hatch at this world renowned site. Close to Bundaberg, on the Fraser Coast, Mon Repos is the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland. Tours are offered during the laying and hatching season from November to March.
Swim with the Minke Whales
From July to September, you can have a life-changing experience swimming with the Minke whales in far north Queensland. They are the smallest baleen whale, identified by their 50 to 70 throat grooves, and are the most abundant. The world-wide population is estimated to be around 800,000.
See a Crocodile
Salt water crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are the largest of all living reptiles and the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world. If permitted, part of their diet can include humans. Some of the best places to see these prehistoric creatures is at Koorana Crocodile Farm near Rockhampton and Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast
Undara Lava Tubes
The Gulf of Savannah in the north of Queensland is the place to walk in the path of an ancient volcanic flow at Undara. This huge natural wonder is only accessible via a guided tour. A range of accommodation is offered, from cabins to railway carriages, tents and swags plus there is a caravan and campground.
Kuranda Scenic Railway
One of the most unique rail journeys in Australia, Kuranda Scenic Railway winds its way from Cairns to Kuranda past rainforest and waterfalls. There’s plenty to see and do in Kuranda, including souvenir shopping, Aboriginal displays, quaint shops and the butterfly sanctuary.
Discover a dinasaur
Did you know Outback Queensland is one of the richest places on the planet for dinosaur discoveries? In prehistoric times much of the outback was the great inland sea. Today, along the dry, dusty and gibber ridden plains you are almost assured of finding a fossil or two. The best places in outback Queensland for dinosaur hunting are Lark Quarry, The Age of Dinosaurs, Winton, Hughenden and Richmond.
Situated north of Cairns, Barron Falls are just one of the spectacular waterfalls to be found around Queensland. Cascading down 250m, the falls lie within the Wet Tropics World National Heritage Area. There is a viewing platform and camping is not allowed. Keep your eye open for a tree kangaroo or the endangered southern cassowary which are often seen in this area.
Harry Redford Cattle Drive
Steer a mob of cattle in the path of Queensland’s most notorious cattle duffer: Harry Redford, alias Captain Strarlight. The drive itself takes 19 days and covers a distance of 200km. It can be done in sections and you average 10-18kms per day. This is your chance to guide the mob of cattle, sleep under the stars and see those amazing sunrises and sunsets – don’t forget the camera.
Brisbane City at night
The Story Bridge is one of Brisbane’s landmarks. The 1000m cantilever bridge joins the north and south sides of the city. One of the best places to view the city lights and the bridge at night is from Wilson Outlook Reserve. This small, grassy park perched on a river cliff edge offers million-dollar views of Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland. Another good spot is Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
The Daintree and Cape Tribulation
Head along the Captain Cook Highway 140km north of Cairns and you’ll come to Cape Tribulation in the heart of the world heritage listed Daintree Rainforest. This is the only destination in the world where two world heritage listed areas meet. On one side you have the Great Barrier Reef and on the other the rainforest home to some of the oldest rainforest on Earth. Tours also operate to the region.
Mossman Gorge and Port Douglas
Mossman Gorge and Port Douglas are also north of Cairns and deserve a day or two to explore. The Mossman Gorge Centre is a new Indigenous eco-tourism development. Port Douglas is a scenic little town which overlooks the Coral Sea. From the marina you can depart on tours out to the reef.
Minjin Jungle Swing
The world’s fastest jungle swing (see main photo) and only multi-person swing in Australia reaches speeds of over 120km/h. Run by AJ Hackett free return transport is provided from the Cairns CBD and northern beaches. With no minimum age restrictions, it’s worth marking for your bucket list of things to do.
For more ideas on what to see and do in Queensland go to Best of Queensland.
Here’s a peek into the world of bats at Tolga Bat Hospital.
Heading up north? Visit Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas for up close and personal look at Australian wildlife.
Are you after more things to do in Northern Queensland? How bout visiting Paronella Park? The park is a romantic spot.
For a fabulous mountain getaway in the tropics, head to Kuranda.