Start your Queensland adventure in Brisbane, the capital city. To get to know the city’s history, spend the morning following the City Centre Heritage Trail. This guided walk through the heart of the city stops at the oldest, grandest and most interesting sights. When you tire of walking, cross the river for a relaxing break at Southbank, a sprawling park and lifestyle centre. From here, it’s just a short stroll to the Cultural Centre, home to modern and classical art galleries, performance spaces, the State Library and fascinating museum collections. End the day with some live music at West End or Fortitude Valley, suburbs on either side of the CBD.
Head an hour north from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast. A fantastic first stop is the late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, home to crocodiles, reptiles and countless Australian critters. If you love a challenging hike, take the opportunity to climb to the top of Mount Tibrogargan, the weirdly shaped mountain that’s visible from back in Brisbane.
As you continue your journey north, there are countless fabulous beaches to enjoy; family friendly options at Caloundra and Mooloolaba, surf breaks at Kawana and Alexandra Headlands, and plenty more in between. Before hitting Noosa, the unabashed style capital of the Sunshine Coast, make sure to call in to the sprawling Eumundi Markets for crafts, artisanal goods, fine food and live music.
If you haven’t got enough sun and sand, why not take a trip to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world? It’ll be a jam packed itinerary, but in two days you’ll be able to wind your way through the rainforest to see most of the island’s top attractions; such as the freshwater lakes, the Maheno Shipwreck, the coloured sands of the Pinnacles, the long stretch of 75 Mile Beach and more.
It’s definitely time to get out of the south east of the state, so catch a flight north to Cairns. It’s one of many seaside towns from which you can explore the colour and life of the Great Barrier Reef. While they’re all fabulous, Cairns has the added bonus of being surrounded by some of the most lush rainforests in the state.
You’ll probably want to spend a day snorkelling and scuba diving on the reef, and another exploring the rainforest. The scenic railway to Kuranda is a breathtaking way to take in the lush greenery, or if you’re pressed for time, fly over the forest in the cable car. If you need to burn off some energy, take a hike through Mossman Gorge. Indigenous guides are available for guided hikes through the gorge, and can provide fascinating insights into the lives and customs of the Australians who lived here long before European settlers.
There’s more to Queensland than beaches and waves, so you’ll definitely want to head to the outback for at least one day. There are many fascinating outback towns to explore; Charleville, Birdsville and Longreach, for example. The most accessible option from Cairns would be Chillagoe, a quirky township established during the gold rush. You could spend a few hours chatting with the locals and wandering around the relics of the mining heyday (it’s like something out of Mad Max), or head into the national park to explore the imposing limestone karsts and subterranean caves.