By Lauren Jarvis | December 2016 | 5 minute read
Queensland’s coastline stretches for 4,350 miles and in the Tropical North one UNESCO World Heritage site meets another as the ancient Daintree Rainforest slopes onto the golden beaches fringing the Great Barrier Reef. On-land, Cairns and Brisbane have blossomed into exciting cities and a road trip leads to lush mountains, rainforest, wetlands and savannah, and eventually Australia’s great, wild frontier: the outback.
“For first-time visitors, Queensland is a great place to start, as it ticks so many must-see boxes: beautiful beaches, rugged outback, luxury resorts, great diving and unspoilt tropical islands guarantee guests a truly Australian experience. ”
ANGELA WAITE, UK SALES AND COMMERCIAL MANAGER, APT
Sail the islands: Nothing quite beats a live-aboard cruise around Queensland’s stunning Whitsunday Islands, or a blissful stay at one of the region’s luxury island resorts, including Hamilton and Hayman
Catch some cricket: Beginning in Brisbane in November 2017, the Commonwealth Bank Ashes Series will see England and Australia compete for sport’s tiniest trophy and cricket’s biggest
Snooze under the stars: Spend a night in a portable sleeping bundle on a floating pontoon over the Great Barrier Reef with Cruise Whitsunday’s Reef Sleep experience
Hold tight: Take the kids to ride the roller-coasters at Australia’s biggest and best amusement parks on Queensland’s Gold Coast, or splash down in its wet and wild water parks
Meet a koala: Hop on the SeaLink ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island for a wild, close-up koala encounter, then soak up the sun on one of its 23 beautiful bays and beaches
Join the party: Queensland’s known for its quirky festivals, try melon ‘skating’ at the world’s largest (and messiest) melon fest
Watch the whales: Hervey Bay is one of the world’s best whale-watching spots. Catch the humpback migration from July to November
Dive in: Board a dive boat from Townsville, Cairns, Airlie Beach or Port Douglas to explore the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Explore the rainforest: The world’s oldest tropical rainforest is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree. Take a river cruise and look out for crocodiles, cassowaries, and tree kangaroos
Go off-road: Join a four-wheel-drive adventure on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, and discover freshwater lakes, ancient rainforests and a 75-mile beach
Off-road in Queensland
The Safari Landcruiser rumbles up the hill, titanic tyres gripping the muddy slope pitted with rocks and ravenous potholes. Overhead, ancient trees soar to the sky, while butterflies sidle shotgun beside us and birds perform death-defying displays across our path.
The Bloomfield Track offers a fun-sized, four-wheel-drive adventure, bumping and sliding 20 miles from Queensland’s Cape Tribulation to Cooktown on the Cape York Peninsula, the sleepy refuge of Captain James Cook whose Endeavour ran aground on the offshore reef.
Crossing the track’s Bloomfield River, we reach Wujal Wujal, home to the Aboriginal Kuku Yulangi people, residents of the rainforest for thousands of years before Cook ‘discovered’ Australia in 1770.
We trek to the nearby sacred falls, then splash on through croc-inhabited creeks without glimpsing another car.
Here it’s just the two of us: driving to the end of the world.
What the experts say
“Queensland welcomed 2,481,000 international visitors during the year ending June 2016 – an 11.3% increase – and forward bookings are looking good.
“The state offers all the key experiences a UK traveller wants from an Australian holiday – weather, beaches, islands, nature and outback – it’s like no other place on earth!
“We work alongside Tourism Australia and the Aussie Specialist Program and encourage agents to complete the Queensland module, which helps with selling the destination, and also provides opportunities to join us on fam trips.
“The biennial Corroborree for the international travel trade will take place on the Gold Coast in October 2017, while campaigns and PR activities throughout the year will drive consumers to our trade partners.
“We’re currently promoting Australia’s stunning Nature Coast (incorporating the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast) with multiple retail partners, and we’ve got some exciting activity coming up.”
JANE NICHOLSON, INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR, UK, IRELAND AND NORDIC TOURISM AND EVENTS QUEENSLAND
Accommodation: The boutique Mantra Richmont Hotel has opened in Brisbane.
The five-star Pullman Brisbane Airport and 3.5-star ibis Brisbane Airport development will open in October 2017. BIG4’s Rivershore Resort has opened on the Sunshine Coast featuring 80 glamping, camping and caravan sites.
New Art Series Hotel, The Johnson has opened in Brisbane with 83 guest suites and an Olympic pool.
Attractions: Great Beach Drive 4WD Tours offer escorted trips along the Great Beach Drive on the Sunshine Coast, a 70km stretch of Pacific coastline.
Red Cat Adventures offers a new two-night Ride to Paradise Whitsundays experience in a high-speed catamaran, staying at Paradise Cove Resort.
The Bundaberg Rum Distilling Company has opened a new visitor experience following an $8.5 million upgrade.
Visitors can now enjoy half-day snorkelling on the Outer Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas with Tropical Journeys.
The Sunshine Coast is launching a new online Food Trails itinerary planner to help visitors indulge in the region’s culinary delights which include a variety of seafood (prawns, crabs and mackerel caught fresh off the coast), fruit and nuts .
Where to book it
Apt Touring’s new Premium 17-day East Coast Adventure tour takes travellers from Sydney to Cairns. Included are return international flights, accommodation, meals and the services of a tour director. The deal is from £4,295pp, based on a twin share.
Travel 2 offers three nights in Brisbane, three nights on the Gold Coast and three nights on Moreton Island, plus three days’ car hire and international return flights from £1,049pp, based on two adults and two children sharing.