The 10 Best Ecotourism Experiences in Queensland, Australia

Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef | © Kyle Taylor / Flickr
Photo of Tom Smith
8 April 2018

The sunny northeast corner of Australia is blessed with a bevvy of natural attractions, including miles of untouched beaches, thousands of plant and animal species, acres of ancient rainforest, dozens of tropical islands and the unmissable Great Barrier Reef. Discover the top 10 eco experiences you can have in Queensland, Australia.

Great Barrier Reef

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Clown fish, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
© Melissa Fiene / Getty Images

How could you start an article about ecotourism experiences in Queensland anywhere other than the Great Barrier Reef? The UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef stretches for more than 2000km along the sun-kissed Queensland coast, and includes dozens of highlights, such as Heart Reef, Whitehaven Beach and miles of colourful coral formations. Make sure you visit this World Wonder with an eco-certified operator, such as Reef Magic Cruises in Cairns.

Fraser Island

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Famous two trees at Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island with crystal clear blue water during summer (Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia)
Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island | © Yannik Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

There’s another World Heritage-listed marvel at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef: Fraser Island, the largest sand island on the face of the Earth. What makes the island even more remarkable is that it’s home to ancient rainforests, several serene freshwater pools and a remarkably pure strain of dingo. Again, make sure you pick a tour operator with serious eco credentials, like the locally run Drop Bear Adventures.

Mon Repos Beach

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Baby sea turtles © Skeeze / Pixabay
Baby sea turtles | © Skeeze / Pixabay

This might not be Queensland’s most well-known environmental attraction, but it’s easily one of the most adorable. From November to March, Mon Repos Beach near Bundaberg is home to baby turtles hatching at night, regenerating the most significant loggerhead turtle population in the South Pacific. Learn a little more at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre before seeing the little critters waddling across the sand for yourself.

Australia Zoo

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Australia Zoo © Brian Gratwicke / WikiCommons
Australia Zoo | © Brian Gratwicke / WikiCommons

The ‘Home of the Crocodile Hunter’ was founded by Steve Irwin’s parents in 1970, and his legacy has continued after his untimely death in 2006, thanks to his wife Terri and children Bindi and Bob. As well as feeding crocs, Australia Zoo has conservation front of mind, providing a home to more than 1000 native and international animals across 100 acres, an hour’s drive north of Brisbane.

Daintree Rainforest

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Daintree Rainforest © Master Man / Flickr
Daintree Rainforest | © Master Man / Flickr

Step millions of years back in time through this ancient rainforest just north of Cairns. The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is home to plants that are literally 100 million years old, as well as plenty of other lush vegetation, waterways crawling with a healthy population of saltwater crocodiles, species of bird found hardly anywhere else on earth and picturesque swimming holes to cool off from the sweltering tropical climate (just watch out for crocs).

Bungalow Bay Koala Village

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Koala on Magnetic Island © Tchami / Flickr
Koala on Magnetic Island | © Tchami / Flickr

Introducing the only resort in Australia with its own wildlife park on-site. Situated a half-hour ferry ride from Townsville on the tropical paradise that is Magnetic Island, Bungalow Bay Koala Village offers visitors the chance to have breakfast with a side serving of koala cuddles, plus plenty of other Aussie wildlife to meet, and the opportunity to sleep under the trees in affordable, eco-certified accommodation.

Capricorn Caves

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Entrance to Capricorn Caves © Tim Kossow / Flickr
Entrance to Capricorn Caves | © Tim Kossow / Flickr

Many travellers skip Central Queensland, but those who include Rockhampton on their itinerary are treated to these incredible limestone caves just outside town. Zig-zag through natural passageways on a tour to the Cathedral Chamber, which is often used for weddings and lends its acoustics to opera several times a year. Also, keep an eye out for tiny insectivorous bats.

Reef HQ Aquarium

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Clownfish at Reef HQ, Townsville © Reef HQ
Clownfish at Reef HQ, Townsville | © Reef HQ

You can discover the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef indoors at the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium in the middle of Townsville. Doubling as the government’s national education centre for the Great Barrier Reef, Reef HQ contains a 2.5 million litre exhibition that helps visitors gain an even greater understanding of Queensland’s stunning natural marvel.

Lizard Island Resort

Resort, Eco Hotel
Private plunge pool at Lizard Island Resort
Private plunge pool at Lizard Island Resort | © Delaware North / Lizard Island Resort

Fancy a slice of luxury with your environmentally-friendly getaway? Then book a stay at Lizard Island Resort. This remote island paradise is just a one-hour flight from Cairns, and this resort offers the most glamorous eco-friendly getaway in the state of Queensland. Go snorkelling at the world-renowned Cod Hole dive site or just kick back in your own private plunge pool.

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Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Rainbow lorikeet © Susanne Nilsson / Flickr
Rainbow lorikeet | © Susanne Nilsson / Flickr

There’s more to the Gold Coast than sea, sand and sunshine, and this zoo, surrounded by the region’s pristine hinterland, proves it. The 27 hectares of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary are crawling with dozens of animal species, including all the Aussie favourites, like koalas, kangaroos, dingos, wombats, echidnas and emus, but the place is famous for its population of free-flying rainbow lorikeets.

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